The Williams Lake Midget Tier 2 Timberwolves are provincial bronze medalists.
The T-wolves clawed back from a 3-1 deficit in the bronze-medal game to stun the Peninsula Eagles of Saanich in regulation at the championships, held March 17-20 in Vernon.
“The kids were absolutely ecstatic,” said Timberwolves head coach Jason Flett, who coached the team alongside assistant coaches Chad Enns, Gino D’Appolonia and Ryan Bailey.
“Our goal this year was to make provincials but the expectation to place in the medals is pretty tough. You’re competing against the whole province and a lot of these teams have paid coaches and huge money programs.
“To go in and place in the medals was unbelievable for the kids after all their hard work.”
Williams Lake opened its round robin March 17 with a 5-1 loss to eventual gold medalists, Hollyburn, before bouncing back with a 4-3 win over the Kamloops Tier 2 Blazers the following morning.
They then tied Greater Trail 4-4, before falling 7-3 to Fort St. John in the semifinal to put them in the bronze-medal game.
There, Raeyden Beauchamp put the Timberwolves on the board first with four minutes remaining in the first period, before Peninsula tied it up 1-1 with just over a minute to play in the opening frame.
The Eagles then rattled off two consecutive goals to go up 3-1 — one near the end of the second period and another just prior to the midway mark of the third — before Williams Lake mounted is incredible comeback.
“When we were down 2-1 going into the third and then tied it up it was just a huge, huge reaction on our bench,” D’Appolonia said. “The kids were super positive in between the second and third. They were pumped, ready to play, and going into that third they were ready to go and when they got that tying goal they just kept their foot on the gas.”
Jaedyn Shortreed lit the lamp for the T-wolves second of the game on an unassisted marker, before Nolan Nicol found the twine for the tying goal, assisted by Cody Bailey and Finley Enns.
“It was just sheer drive to get that tying goal,” Jason said.
“When we got that tying goal, just the way the momentum was going, you kind of got a sense the go-ahead goal was coming,” Chad added.
Burke did just that, notching his first of the afternoon to provide the game winner, on a setup from Raeyden Beauchamp and Cade Enns.
“There was still seven and a half minutes left in the game when we went up 4-3 and everyone really had to buckle down and play defence and we did that — right from the goalie [Kai Flett] to the defence, to the forwards. Everyone played solid defence and we held on.”
Splitting the netminding duties throughout the tournament were Kai and Wyatt Jacobson, with Jacobson amassing a one-win, one-loss record and Kai earning a win, a tie and a loss, including the win in the final.
“Thanks to the kids and their great effort all year and accomplishing their goals,” Jason said. “What a fantastic way to end the season with a bronze medal at provincials, to place third in the province out of all the tier 2 midget teams is unbelievable.”
Coaches, meanwhile, thanked the efforts of Cade Enns, Raeyden Beauchamp, Thomas Burke and Nolan Nicol, who capped off their third and final years of minor hockey with the bronze medal at the tournament.
“All four of them gave us huge contributions at provincials, and were a big part of our success all year long, so just very proud of those boys and how they finished off their minor hockey careers on such a high,” Chad said.
“We’re super proud of all the kids,” D’Appolonia added. “They did an awesome job, and it’s a big achievement.”