With playoffs and a potential berth at provincials on the horizon, the Williams Lake Midget Tier 2 Timberwolves appear to be firing on all cylinders at the right time, said head coach Roy Call.
The team is coming off a first-place championship result at this past weekend’s Kamloops Minor Hockey Association Midget Tier 2 Tournament after knocking off Castlegar 5-2 in the gold-medal match.
“The kids are having a lot of fun and we’re really improving at the right time of the year,” Call said. “We’ve won a lot of games and done well but we’ve had some challenges along the way, like we’ve missed over 100 man games with injuries, and it’s been challenging to field our best roster, so it’s nice to be healthy and it’s really helping.”
At the eight-team tournament in the River City, Williams Lake squared off with Prince George, Calgary and Vernon in pool play, beating Prince George 7-1, losing to Calgary 4-1 and then hammering Vernon 8-2, placing them second heading into the playoff semifinals.
There, they faced Salmon Arm, winning 5-2.
“We actually got a bit of a break against Salmon Arm,” Call said. “They came out Sunday morning and were not ready to go and we were up 5-0 early in the second period, so that gave us a real chance to look forward to the finals already and cut back some minutes and play all our players.”
After Castlegar knocked off Calgary in the other semifinal to setup the championship, Williams Lake came out ready, Call said, but had a bit of a slow start
“We got off to an OK start, went up 1-0, then we gave up a goal to make it 2-1 and they were up now and starting to play really hard,” he said. “We took a little dip but once we found our legs we tied it up early in the second and after that the guys hammered them and cruised to a 5-2 win.”
Call said he was pleased with the effort up and down the entire roster.
“We scored a lot of goals on the weekend, and a lot of guys contributed,” he said.
“Our whole team is playing really well, and with playoffs coming up at the end of the month against either Prince George or Quesnel it’ll be the first time since September we’ve had our full roster.
“All of a sudden we’re starting to get healthy and we’ve got some real depth.”
In the Timberwolves’ last 11 games the team has put together a nine-win, one-loss and one tie record.
“We’re getting better at the right time and getting some big wins,” he said. “The kids are figuring it out. Our coaching staff, me and my son, Cody, Scott Cross and Jason Flett — we’re completely new to this group of kids and when we started this year I didn’t know a kid by name, so it’s taken a little while to get what we want the team to look like structure-wise, pace-wise and intensity-wise.
“It’s been a challenging year, but since Christmas time you can see the first 120 days have really started to pay off and we have some very good talent.”
The Timberwolves hold home-ice advantage for playoffs and will take on the winner of either Quesnel or Prince George Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, Feb. 29 at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.
If needed the third game in the series would take place Sunday, March 1 in either Quesnel or Prince George, depending on who they play.
The BC Hockey Tier 2 Provincial Championships, meanwhile, are slated for March 14 on Vancouver Island in Sidney, B.C.