Hosting the Williams Lake Bantam Tier 2 Hockey Tournament over the weekend, the locals came up big.
With the championship on the line Sunday, locked in a 2-2 tie with the Quesnel Thunder with just 17.7 seconds left in the third period, Williams Lake Bantam Tier 2 Timberwolves forward Owen Powers, off a setup from teammate Justin Bond, lit the lamp to help lift his team to the title.
The fans at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex, along with the Timberwolves players, went nuts in celebration of the game-winning goal.
“The kids are doing really well,” said Timberwolves head coach Steve Carpenter. “They’re really starting to buy into some of the systems that the coaching staff are doing.
“But the one thing I really like about this team is they’re a real gutsy bunch of kids.”
Those guts showed Sunday as the team was playing in its fifth game in three days.
“We were missing three key guys going into the championship game, it was our fifth game in three days, and they just worked really hard against a big, strong, fast team and kept it close to the end,” Carpenter said. “And what a great way to win a championship, in the last 17 seconds.”
The final was a back-and-forth affair throughout, with Williams Lake’s Justin Hansen opening the scoring just three minutes into the first period.
The Thunder, however, would pot two goals in the second period to take a one-goal lead into the third.
There, the Timberwolves’ Darien Grace, with around 15 minutes left to play, banked a shot off the Quesnel netminder’s pads to score the tying goal.
Timberwolves’ netminder Jaxon Nohr also made a key stop on a penalty shot late in the third to keep the game deadlocked at two, prior to Powers’ game winner.
“We have a cowboy hat we pass around the dressing room to the kid we think was kind of the game star,” Carpenter said. “I said at the end of that game there were probably four or five that deserved it.”
Carpenter said this is the first time this team has won a tournament as a rep club.
“Most of the kids have never won a tournament [at this level] and for them to see what it took to win and now understand that, I think it’s a real big step for us,” he said.
Joining Williams Lake and Quesnel in the tournament were Fort St. John, Salmon Arm and Prince George.
Williams Lake’s path to the final consisted of an 8-4 win over Quesnel, a 4-3 edging of Prince George, an 8-7 setback against Fort St. John and a 4-3 triumph over Salmon Arm.
Next up, this Saturday, Williams Lake is back at it with a pair of league games against Quesnel. The first goes at 11 a.m., with the second to follow at 5 p.m.
After that, the club heads to Penticton for a tournament from Nov. 11-13.
“We would like to thank all our sponsors for the support, and all the fans and peers who came out to support the team,” Carpenter said.
“The kids really appreciate it.”