The Penticton Atom Development No.1 Vees tossed their gloves to the air after winning the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association championship.
Vees coach Jamie Materi said that was a highlight for the players after defeating Kelowna No. 3, 4-1 for the Atom Development Koteles Conference Strachan/Jamieson Division B title on March 12. Simon Bowland and Dexter Materi scored, while Braxton Becker and Connor Klappa shared the goaltending duties.
The Vees ranked fifth heading into playoffs taking on the third-ranked Kelowna squad.
“They played with a lot of confidence. They just left it all on the ice,” said Vees coach Jamie Materi. “They just played really hard. The team bought into what we had taught them all year.”
Materi said it was a pretty good way to cap off a season in which they won six games, lost seven and tied one. Materi said the players felt “ecstatic” about their win.
“We really didn’t have a goal in place. We just wanted to go work hard every game and have a lot of fun,” he said. “that’s what the kids did.”
Bantam Vees advance to provincials
The Penticton Murray GM bantam Tier 2 Vees advanced to the provincials championships in Powell River with a 5-3 win over Kamloops on March 4.
It’s the third time in four seasons that coach Greg Berkholtz and his staff got teams to the B.C. championships.
“I’m sure it felt good. We’ve been working on that all season and at the start of the year our coach said he wants three banners,” said Vees co-captain Matt Olsen, making his first trip to provincials after playing house hockey, where he played in two district championships. “That was our goal. We have two, and we have one left to go.”
The bantam Vees will be among nine teams competing from March 19 to 22, but assistant coach Chad Deleeuw said they have seen some of the teams in tournament action before. The other teams competing are the hosts, Powell River, Greater Trail, Cranbrook, Fort St. John, Campbell River, Quesnel, Burnaby Winter Club and Port Moody.
“It will be tough over there,” said Deleeuw. “The competition will be very strong. We will have to play mistake-free hockey. It will be a good challenge for the boys.”
The Vees swept Kamloops in a best-of-three series with Brennan Nelson scoring twice, and Jacob Obuck, Levi Carter and Kieran Simpson also scoring. The Vees trailed 2-0 after the first period, while adjusting to a larger ice surface, but got a goal from Obuck before the opening half of the game ended. That play had an unfortunate consequence, as their goaltender was injured from his teammate backchecking Obuck. They were forced to use an affiliate goalie to complete the game.
“We just kept pressure on them. Used our speed to advantage,” said Deleeuw.
Deleeuw said the Vees, who finished first in the Okanangan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association with 13 wins in 18 games, have all three lines going. The team is also benefitting from the players buying into the defensive system.
“Once you take care of your own zone, then the offence will come,” he said. “definitely everyone is chipping in and doing their part. (They) have confidence in each other to do their own job.”
Atom Vees win championship
The Penticton Atom 1 recreation junior Vees Punishers defeated the South Okanagan in three games to clinch the OMAHA playoff championship. The Vees clinched with a 5-1 win at the South Okanagan Events Centre on March 12.
“The kids just played well. Our philosophy was just roll’em, shoot the puck, drive the net,” said Vees assistant coach Minas Portalaki. “The kids were ecstatic. We did a little visualization exercise prior to the game. They were so pumped. It was good to see. It was good to see the emotion on the kids faces.”
The Vees also received phenomenal goaltending from Jorja Moore. The Punishers are coached by Ron Egilson, who was also assisted by Darren Bitzer and Carl Peters.
“It was an honour to work with such a great group of kids these last six months,” said Egilson. “They have so much to be proud of. A great way to end an exciting and fun season of hockey.”
The Punishers philosophy is fair and equal play for the players with balanced development. The Punishers led the regular season with the most goals (146), while allowing the least (57). The Punishers went 10-1-3 during the season.
Next for the Punishers are the district championships in Ashcroft, March 17 to 19.
Ice chips: B.C. Hockey announced on March 6 that the Okanagan will be among three zones participating in the Regional Zone Pilot program. The other zones are North West and Yukon. The Okanagan, who are participating for a second straight season, will have teams in the Bantam and Midget divisions. According to B.C. Hockey, the Okanagan has been very successful, allowing players in the region the opportunity to participate in Tier One (1) and Tier Two (2) hockey. The program was developed to allow players to play at the highest level, with districts to providing regional teams and pulling from a greater draw zone. There were five teams in the Midget Tier One Division and four teams in the Bantam Tier One Division.