The Williams Lake Midget Rep Home Tournament started well for the hosts but ended in heartbreak.
Opening with a game against tournament runners-up in Prince George and their own tournament, Williams Lake crushed Quesnel, 10-3, led by four goals from Justin Bond and a hat trick by Ezra Oosting.
The exuberant response to Sandy Thompson’s first goal of the season was the beginning of a team supporting each other through a gruelling six-game tournament.
Facing Fort St. John next, Williams Lake carried their momentum to beat the Flyers to the tune of 13-3. Bond added another five goals and Oosting, Darien Grace, and Jacob Chamberlin all added pairs in their second rout.
The next morning, Williams Lake was outplayed, and fell 6-2 to a strong Terrace team.
Needing a win to advance to the semifinals, Williams Lake exploded against Salmon Arm.
Five regular players were scratched in this game and their replacements brought a physical presence that put Salmon Arm on their heels.
After conceding the first goal, Bond equalized and the home team never looked back.
Bond completed the hat trick and Oosting added his own hat trick with Cory Sterritt chipping in for a 7-1 blowout.
The path to finals would be hard for Williams Lake because their semifinal opponent was the Terrace team that blew them out just 24 hours earlier.
The teams were locked in a scoreless draw through to the midway ice clean. Then, after a scramble in front of the net, Bond buried the first goal of the game.
Just 56 seconds later, Zach Herrick beat the Terrace netminder five-hole.
Bond would add another three, and Josh Novakowski would round out the scoring to repay the favour in the 6-2 thrashing of Terrace.
Facing the Prince George team that defeated them twice in league play recently, Williams Lake started strong.
A shot fake on a breakaway from Darien Grace put the Wolves up by one in the second, but a backdoor tap-in on the tail end of a power play equalized the score for Prince George.
Prince George opened the third with a pair of goals, but, after a flurry of action in front of the Prince George net, Jacob Chamberlin popped the puck in the open goal to cut the lead in half.
On the man advantage with just under nine minutes remaining, Eric Nickel tipped in Cory Sterritt’s point shot to tie the game.
With just two-and-a-half minutes remaining, Bond got a penalty for holding, and Prince George squeezed in a shot short side to take a 4-3 lead with little time remaining.
Bond would equalize the game once again with just 1:38 left on the clock to send the game to a shootout.
Bond scored his shot in the shootout and Prince George capitalized on their first two attempts.
However, the next four Williams Lake shooters couldn’t solve Alex Hinsche, ending their title run in heartbreaking fashion.
Strong performances by goaltenders Cody Call, Riley Lawryk and Jaxon Nohr gave the team confidence in every game and the confidence to reach the final.
The Wolves are at home again next weekend, with two games against the Tier 3 team from Prince George.
They will close out their December schedule with road games in 100 Mile and Quesnel the following weekend.
Darien Grace is a player with the Williams Lake Midget Timberwolves.