“We did it.”
That was the sentiment of Todd Isnardy, proud head coach of the Williams Lake Peewee Timberwolves after they picked up back-to-back home-ice wins over the Prince George Peewee Cougars Saturday to punch their ticket to the upcoming provincial championships March 16-20 in West Vancouver.
The wins, however, didn’t come easy for the T-wolves, as the team clawed its way back from a two-goal deficit in game one Saturday morning to win 3-2, then turned up the offence in what was a 3-3 stalemate late that afternoon to win 8-3 in the second and deciding game of the best-of-three series at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.
“They were really good games,” Isnardy said. “Game one was just a tight, tight game.”
With 11 minutes to play in game one of the series and down 2-0, Aiden Fulton lit the lamp shorthanded for Williams Lake to put his team within one, before Ajay Virk tied it up and Carter Boomer potted the game-winner all within seven minutes in the third period.
“The boys were nervous,” Isnardy said. “You could see it in them, but as a coach we’ve been trying to prepare them up to now and say everything we’ve done, all the work we’ve put in, is for these two games, but these are 11-, 12-, 13-year-old kids.
“After the first period, though, they got their legs under them and we just kept coming, and really took it to them.”
In game two Williams Lake jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, however, Prince George cut into the lead with a goal just prior to the 10-minute mark and ice clean during the second period.
“Then they tied it up on us right after, we got a penalty, then took another one, and they had a five on three for a minute 45 seconds and we killed it off, and then we just went on a run to win 8-3,” Isnardy said.
Scoring in the triumph for the T-wolves were Virk, Carter Boomer (2), Blake Pigeon (2), Tristan Reid, Boston Levens and Fulton.
Isnardy also credited the play of goaltender Darian Louie between the pipes for keeping Williams Lake in both contests.
“Prince George has a real cannon of a shot on their point and Darian took one off the thigh and it stung him, but he stepped right back in there and they were unloading one-timers from the point on him but he just stood his ground,” Isnardy said.
“He didn’t back down and it was great. He was a rock star in net for us.”
After the final buzzer sounded, Isnardy said the players, fans and coaches, went nuts.
“The players were elated, the coaches were elated and the parents were elated,” he said. “I think the kids were a little bit shocked, too, that they did it, and it took a while to sink in after, but that was the goal from day one, as soon as the team was made, was to make the provincial championships.”
The team has come a long way since it was formed, Isnardy said, as early on in the year the team faced some tough results.
“We started the year at a tournament in West Kelowna and went down there and lost all four of our games right off the bat, then we came back and lost two to Prince George, so we started out 0-6,” he said.
“But the kids bought into the system we were teaching them … it took some time to get into place but it worked, and as a coaching staff right from day one we told the kids we expect a lot out of them, and practice is key, and we’re going to push a lot but having said that, that was to prepare them for those championship games and the players bought in and it was absolutely amazing to see.
“You look around the room at the start of the year and it wasn’t the same as it is now. Now it’s a tight, tight group of players. We’re a family and it’s amazing.”