The first-place St. Albert Merchants ring in the new year at home Friday against the North Edmonton Red Wings in the Capital Junior B Hockey League.

Puck drop is 8 p.m. at Akinsdale Arena.

The Merchants (23-2-1) and Red Wings (15-8-2) are the top two teams in the west division.

The Merchants closed out 2013 with their 12th straight win, 7-1 over the Beverly Warriors (14-11) last weekend in St. Albert.

Taylor Wiebe’s hat-trick and a pair by Jordan MacPhee sparked the attack for the Money Men, who were missing several players because of the holidays.

Thomas Rotundo and Blair Macuch also scored and Jared Kwasney and Casey Reid added two assists apiece.

It was 4-0 when the Red Wings capitalized on the power play late in period two.

Shots were 42-39 for the Merchants and Justin Pawlenchuk (16-1, 2.47 GAA) was the winning goalie.

The Merchants are 12-1-1 at home this season.

Josh Jewell is tied for fifth in league scoring with 41 points in 22 games and his 18 goals ranks seventh overall.

Max Cathcart (7-2, 2.20 GAA) and Pawlenchuk are first and second, respectively, among goaltenders. Cathcart’s three shutouts are also a league high.

Metro Edmonton high school basketball resumes league play Jan. 7 after the Christmas break.

The first St. Albert tournament of 2014 will be hosted by the Paul Kane Blues. The varsity men’s and women’s competition runs Jan. 9 to 11.

Last week the Blues were hooping it up in Hawaii.

The St. Albert Raiders are back on the ice Jan. 8 after winning their last game in 2013 in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League.

The Raiders (12-8-3) play the Southside Athletic Club (12-9-3) at 7:45 p.m. at Akinsdale Arena.

The second win in three games for the Raiders was 6-4 against the north division-leading Sherwood Park Kings (15-3-6) last weekend in Sherwood Park.

Matt McNeil potted the winner with 13:56 to play and Taylor Lotoski scored into an empty net to nail down the victory.

Parker AuCoin, Thomas Friesen, Jason Miller and Ethan Lazaro also lit the lamp. AuCoin and Miller finished with three points apiece.

The Raiders killed off a rash of penalties and were outshot 43-14. In net was Pat Dea (8-3-2, 2.05 GAA).

The Raiders are the No. 1 defensive team in the north and second overall in the AMHL with 52 against.

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St. Albert Gazette

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