The Williams Lake Bantam Rep Timberwolves came within a hair of reaching the semifinals at the B.C. Tier 2 Provincial Hockey Championships in Kelowna.
The T-wolves, after opening their tournament with two wins and one tie, fell to Langley, 4-2, last Wednesday, eliminating them from the tournament.
Williams Lake dug themselves a hole early, falling behind 3-0, before mountain a comeback to close the distance to 3-2 after goals from Colton Thomas and Will Paynton.
Needing at least a tie to advance to the semifinal Williams Lake pulled netminder Griffen Outhouse for the extra man, but an empty-net goal late in the third from Langley put the contest on ice.
Outhouse was outstanding between the pipes for Williams Lake, keeping the game close throughout.
“It’s one of those things where it just seemed like it wasn’t meant to be,” said T-wolves head coach Steve Carpenter.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys. They worked hard all year and it’s a phenomenal team.”
In Williams Lake’s opening game they beat host Kelowna handily, 9-2, scoring early and often in the winning effort.
Next, Williams Lake battled to a 5-2 victory over Trail. Chase Dubois potted a hat trick and, again, Outhouse was solid in net.
The Timberwolves then skated to a 4-4 tie Tuesday against Cranbrook to reach the quarterfinal. Williams Lake battled back from an early 3-0 deficit after allowing two power play goals and one penalty shot, scoring the equalizer with less than 10 seconds left in the game.
The tie, Carpenter said, was what ended up costing them a spot in the semifinal.
“That game against Cranbrook we came out a bit flat, but in the second and third we totally dominated them,” he said.
“Chase hit three posts, Brendan Lane had a breakaway and hit the butt end of the goalie’s stick after he’d beat the goalie … any other time of the year I’d bet we win that game 10-4 — we had that many good, quality scoring chances.”
Despite the tie, however, Williams Lake still had a chance to advance to Thursday’s semifinal if Kelowna could manage a win or a tie over Trail.
“It was 1-1, Trail had pulled their goalie because they had to win, and Kelowna got a two on one but the player didn’t look up and notice the empty net and he instead dumped it in,” Carpenter said.
“With less than a minute left Trail picked up the puck, went down, and scored with 35 seconds left to knock us out.
“You see that and sometimes you just wonder if certain things are meant to be and certain things aren’t.”
Juan de Fuca ended up the provincial champions after defeating Westside in the final.
“Everybody was tight and competitive [in the tournament],” Carpenter said. “We were right there and it was just one of those unfortunate things. You don’t make excuses, it’s part of the game, but we just seemed to have a bit of bad luck at the wrong time.”
The lakecity squad finished at provincials with two wins, one loss and one tie, and were 43-8-1 overall to cap off an impressive season.