Chiefs win district championship with heart

Already South Central Super League champs, the Penticton bantam rec Chiefs added district champions to their resume.

DISTRICT CHAMPION PENTICTON Chiefs are as follows: back row from left is Rod Stephens (coach)

DISTRICT CHAMPION PENTICTON Chiefs are as follows: back row from left is Rod Stephens (coach)

Already South Central Super League champs, the Penticton bantam rec Chiefs added district champions to their resume.

The Chiefs travelled to Lumby for the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association championship March 9 and 10 and won with a 4-2 victory against the Vernon Five Star Bull Dogs. The Chiefs were a perfect 3-0 in round robin action, then faced the Bull Dogs for a second time.

Chiefs coach Russel Schwabe said his team played the best hockey of the year.

“Every single player on the team stepped up their game,” said Schwabe in an email. “They passed, moved the puck and never stopped skating no matter how tired they were.”

Schwabe said he’s sure winning the district championship was on his players’ minds and he noticed they were nervous to the point their stomachs bothered them. The approach they took was just focusing on doing what they needed to win and having trust.

“We know that the one thing we can control is our effort on every shift,” he said. “We felt we had worked hard all season to prepare for this and we deserved it, but knew it wasn’t going to be handed to us so we were going to have to take it.”

What stood out for Schwabe about his teams’ play was their hard work, but especially their heart.

“The kids never quit,” he said. “Just a remarkable group of kids, great support from the parents.”

Top scorers were captain Nolan Aubie, Connor Graham and Jake McHale. The Chiefs received strong goaltending by Travis Stephens and Jace Canada.

Also playing were Lillooet bantam representing the Thompson/Cariboo, Vernon Interior Savings representing the North Okanagan and Vernon Five Star Bull Dogs bantam representing Lumby.

The Chiefs wrapped up their season by winning their local 12-team tournament last weekend.