While many students were away enjoying spring break, rep hockey players from Williams Lake were working their tails off at their respective BC Hockey Championships.
The Williams Lake Midget Female Timberwolves, the Williams Lake Midget Men’s Timberwolves and the Williams Lake Bantam Female Timberwolves all competed against the best teams in the province at the championships, which all wrapped up last week.
And no team could be more excited with the results than the female T-wolves, who captured a bronze medal after defeating Terrace in a 3-2 overtime thriller.
Williams Lake opened the tournament, hosted in Penticton, with a 3-1 setback against Surrey, before following up with a 2-1 win over the North Island Impact and a 4-1 victory over Kamloops. Taking on Richmond for a chance to advance to the gold-medal match, the T-wolves were edged, 1-0, placing them in the bronze-medal contest.
There, Caitlyn Ray provided the heroics, boosting the team to the 3-2 come-from-behind overtime win. Callissa Broomfield and Eli Davies notched the other markers in the winning effort.
Midget Female Timberwolves head coach Pete Montana said for him the season was an interesting journey, and in some ways an experiment.
“Even though some of the players had been to provincials before the vast majority had never been to an event like that,” Montana said. “In the semifinal crossover game against Richmond we did not have our best game, but we played hard and lost 1-0.
“That sends a huge message to us. Their coach said at the end of the game we were the toughest team they played all year, and they were headed to their seventh straight final, so to walk away from that game going, hey, we were right there.
“[Assistant coach] Roy Call said you couldn’t have scripted it better other than us winning gold, which was highly attainable.”
Montana noted just three players are graduating from this year’s squad, sending a strong message to the rest of the province the team will be a force to be reckoned with next year.
“We know where we fit in,” he said. “It’s going to be tough for teams to beat us next year.”
Of the bronze medal game, Montana said it was a gutsy effort to turn the tide.
“At the end of the first, down 2-0, I said about 10 words. Basically, we did not work this hard all season to come home and not bring home a medal,” he said. “They went out and did it.”
Richmond, meanwhile, shutout the North Island Impact, 3-0, to win the gold.
Montana said the parent and fan support his team had during the tournament was a huge boost to the players’ morale.
“We had almost all the parents down there and you should have heard that rink,” he said. “For the last two games Ruthie Jackson’s dad [Aubrey Jackson] pulled out the bagpipes in the warmup and the tournament officials didn’t play any music — they let him play. Cecil Grinder had one of his drums out — they were yelling ‘T’ and ‘Wolves’ as loud as they could.”
For the Midget Men’s Timberwolves head coach Steve Carpenter it was a tale of two teams.
The club narrowly missed the playoff rounds after their fate was decided by the tournament host, Trail, who knocked the T-wolves out of contention by scoring in the final 12 seconds of their game against North Delta.
“The first two games we didn’t play nearly up to our abilities, then our last two we played really well,” Carpenter said. “It was unfortunate we put ourselves in that position. They did the same thing to us two years ago in bantam. The hockey gods weren’t smiling on us this week.”
In its first game Williams Lake lost 8-5 to Trail, before next falling to North Delta, 6-4.
The Timberwolves rebounded with a 3-2 win over Saanich, the No.3 ranked team, then a 4-2 triumph over Kelowna, the No. 1 ranked team.
“We knew losing the first two put us behind the eight ball but the kids came out and worked hard and finished the year off with a couple wins which is a nice way to go into the summer,” Carpenter said. “We just came up a bit short with regards to the luck of the draw.”
The following are the team’s provincial statistics:
Trey Thomas (2 goals, 4 assists); William Paynton (4 goals, 2 assists); Mitch LaBossiere (2 goals, four assists); Jacob Chamberlin (1 goal, 3 assists); Daine Dubois (2 goals, 1 assist); Nick Berkelaar (2 assists); Corey Loring (2 goals); Zach Herrick (2 assists); Cody Swan (2 goals); Brett Hare (1 assist); Owen Powers (1 assist); Dylan Sellars (1 goal); Landon Fuller (1 assist).
For the Bantam Female Timberwolves, their tournament ended with no wins versus tough teams from Castlegar, Surrey, Kelowna, Richmond and South Island.
The team’s season, however, was highlighted last month after defeating the Prince George Bantam Female Cougars in a best-of-three series to win the Cariboo Amateur Hockey Association championship.
The team had been the underdogs all season with just five wins under their belts prior to the CAHA championships.
“We beat the odds,” Pierce told the Tribune. “Nobody expected us to be here.”