The 790 km drive to Fraser Lake, B.C. was well worth it for the Winterhawks Bantam hockey team who lost just one of their six games at the tournament last week (March 15-19) to walk away as provincial champions.
“It was really exciting trip,” said Bob Andrea, the Winterhawks bantam coach. “We had a lot of fun and I’m really proud of the kids.”
The final game pitted the Winterhawks against Windermere Valley, with the Whistler team scoring their first goal within 20 seconds of the puck dropping. By the end of the first period it Whistler was ahead 3-1, keeping their lead for the rest of the game with Windermere Valley trailing by just two goals for stretches of the game. The final period saw a flurry of goals — three from Whistler and two from Windermere valley to finish 9-5 in favour of the Winterhawks.
“In the last four minutes one of our players took a double-minor penalty,” said Andrea. “But we killed off the four-minute powerplay no problem. We shut them down pretty handily.”
For the lead up games Whistler had steady victories by at least four goals, but despite out-shooting Revelstoke by 60 shots to 20, they succumbed to their only loss 4-3.
“I’d say the (Revestoke) goalie stole the game from (us),” said Andrea. “That was probably the best way to describe it. He really did play great. Our fans gave him a big cheer at the end of the game. I asked him how he felt afterwards and he said, ‘I think that was the best game of my life.’”
Andrea thanked the sponsors of the Winterhawks that helped the team through the season and getting to Fraser Lake for the provincials, including Gibbons Life, RDC Fine Homes, Sea to Sky Gondola and Whistler Real Estate Company, but also showed appreciation to the host town of Fraser Lake.
“We really have to give credit to the local community in Fraser Lake because they attended a lot of the games in big numbers,” said Andrea. “It was definitely like a playoff atmosphere in the rink. It was full and it was loud.”
Strong season for peewees, bad luck in playoffs for Midgets
The Winterhawks Pee Wee Rep division finished their season with an impressive record of victories, but fell short of qualifying for provincials in the last handful of games of the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association league.
“We happened to run into a couple of hot teams with hot goalies in the final four,” said peewee coach Cam McIvor. “But the team gave an incredible effort and almost made it to provincials.”
The peewees played in the fifth flight this season, finishing just two points short of taking the league banner in that flight and lost just three of the last 22 games, including the final four games of the Tier 4 designation.
The midgets came close to making it through the final four, but an unfortunate line brawl instigated by the opposing team led to several suspensions and the Winterhawk Midgets playing their final games with a reduced bench.
A handful of injuries on the team further weakened the midget’s line up.
The atoms also made it to the last round leading up to provincials, with every Winterhawks team making it to playoffs.
“It’s a great accomplishment on behalf of all our coaches and players,” said Whistler Minor Hockey Association president Steve Legge of the entire Winterhawks club. “They played with great pride and integrity. We continue to get better and stronger.”