The Whistler Secondary School boys’ hockey team is heading into playoffs in the top spot.
Thanks to a strong performance throughout the short preliminary season, the Storm is ranked first in the B.C. High School Hockey League’s tier 3 - West division with their 3-0-1 record.
They’ll take to the ice at the North Shore Rink on Monday (May 8), facing off against the winner of the Churchill/West Vancouver match for their shot at advancing to division finals.
“The team is very confident in their ability, but the next round will be a single-game elimination round, so the games are just going to get increasingly tighter,” said coach Scott Patterson. “The objective is to win the pennant and bring home the trophy. The most important part is that we need to continue playing as a team and make sure that we’re able to do the things we already have planned, and work as a unit as opposed to individuals. When it does come to performance, a lot of our success will also depend on our best players having great games, as well.”
Earning the division championship is an exciting possibility for the team, especially considering the unique nature of most high school hockey leagues in Canada.
“It’s kind of a tricky spot, because hockey isn’t really a part of the high school curriculum, so there’s a bit of a gray area there,” Patterson explained.
While athletes typically grow up playing alongside teammates of similar age and skill levels, high school rosters are usually made up of a wide-range of grades, skill and experience levels. While this diversity can prove challenging when attempting to develop a cohesive playing style, it also adds to the fun, Patterson said.
“That’s the cool thing. You have Grades 10, 11 and 12s that may not necessarily bump into each other or be part of the same groups at school in the hallways, but they have to pull together as a team,” he said. “The other thing is that you have players that are midget C, midget house and midget A — which is rep. These guys are friends that may not necessarily get to play with each other on the same team throughout their minor hockey years, but now they have the opportunity to be on the same team and move in the same direction.”
Despite the challenges that arise when organizing a high school hockey team — one of which is obtaining ice time, an issue Patterson credits Steve Legge and Jennifer Sopp from the Whistler Minor Hockey Association for helping sort out — the coach said there’s something special about pulling on your school’s jersey.
“The reason I got involved was because when I was a kid, some of the most fun and exciting time I had playing hockey was playing for my high school,” he said. “You’re not just playing for your mom and dad; you’re playing for your buddies and your girlfriend and everybody else cheering in the stands. I just wanted to play my part, and hopefully give these kids the opportunity to experience that for themselves.”
To that end, Patterson said he’s noticed the boys enjoying the chance to share the team’s successes with their friends and classmates this year. “Watching them play and looking forward to going to school the next day and hearing their name or the success of their team on the announcements has been fun to watch,” he said.