Williams Lake Stampeders won a double-header on home ice last weekend.
On Friday, Feb. 11 the team won 4-3 in overtime against the Nechako North Stars, in a game that was postponed from Feb. 4 due to players getting COVID-19 after travelling from Williams Lake to Prince Rupert and Kitimat for games.
The Stampeders then beat the Terrace River Kings 5-3 on Saturday, Feb. 12.
It was the first defeat for the River Kings this season.
Before the game got started Friday, there was a ceremony to honour and acknowledge the recent discoveries on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School.
Williams Lake First Nation Chief and Stampeders goalie Willie Sellars said First Nations can feel the support from people in the region and beyond holding them up in a ‘very powerful way.’
“As we start to uncover the truth from the legacy and history of residential schools across this country what we are starting to see is this really cool movement and it makes me proud to not only to be Canadian but to be proud of where I come from which is Williams Lake,” Sellars said. “That is a massive thing for me, and for our community to see the support because it helps us in our healing journey.”
Cultural coordinator Cecil Sheena from Merritt said a prayer during the ceremony in which he lifted up all residential school survivors present and not in attendance at the game.
“I pray that the children who were hurt are out there again in the spirit world looking after their families,” Sheena said. “I pray that you continue to look after all these families.”
He also told the hockey players they were playing for the children who never came home.
His prayer was followed by a traditional drumming song as he was joined by Sellars, residential school survivors Francis Johnson Sr., Frankie Robbins, Esk’etemc Chief Fred Robbins and Stampeder Wilfred Robbins. After the song, Francis Johnson Sr. dropped the puck on a red carpet at centre ice, with Nechako North Stars player Piers Egan standing by his right and Stampeders captain Kurtis Bond to his left.
Friday night’s goals were scored by Ryan Yaworski assisted by Dayton Long, Kaleb Boyle assisted by Bond and Cam Flinton, Cory Loring assisted by Andrew Hadder, Cam Flinton assisted by Brendan Pigeon and in overtime during a four-on-four, Jaxon Passerie assisted by Pigeon.
During Saturday night’s game goals came from Mark Bouchard assisted by Bond and Boyle, Long from Robbins and Cam Flinton, Cole Zimmerman from Pigeon, Zimmerman again from Pigeon and Bouchard, and Danny Merth from Nic Flinton.
Stampeders Coach Cody Tent said it felt good to come away with two wins making it six wins in a row for the team.
“Our dressing room is a fun place to be these days,” he said Tuesday.
Cameron Reid was standing in as coach for the Nechako North Stars Friday and said like the Stampeders it was the first overtime the team had gone into all season.
“It was a little nerve-wracking when the score was three-nothing, but the boys fought back hard and didn’t quit. It was good.”
There was a big cheering section for the North Stars in the stands and Reid said they had travelled down for the game.
Reid said the season has been fun and the team’s been playing hard and fighting every game.
In the first round of playoff games, the Stampeders will travel this Friday, Feb. 18, to Fort St. James to play against the Nechako North Stars.
They will head back home to play the North Stars in Williams Lake on Saturday, Feb. 19.
“It’s definitely a team that will be fun to play in this first round of playoffs,” Tent said of the Nechako North Stars. ”They are hardworking so we will have to be on our game. They have lots of talent. If we stick with our game the way we want to play it I think we’ve got a pretty good shot to win.”
Game time in Williams Lake Saturday is 7:30 p.m.