The Penticton Ironman Canada midget tier 2 Vees never lost faith.
Playing against the Vancouver Spirit on Wednesday for the provincial championship at West Kelowna’s Royal LePage Place, the Vees found themselves behind 2-0 midway through the first period after quick tallies, but when the clock struck zero, it was the Vees, the not Spirit, spilling onto the ice in celebration. Penticton won 4-2.
Tyler Ehlers, who filled in as captain for Eythan Brown, said it felt unreal to become a champion.
“Never felt this way before,” said Ehlers, who had a golden BC Hockey medallion resting along side his jersey. “Great experience.”
The Vees had to work for it against a Spirit team that didn’t shy from the physical play and had speed to burn. Ehlers said it was tough to be trailing, but they just had to fight back. Throughout the game the Vees used every inch of ice. They worked the puck along the boards and battled through checks to get it to the net. Michael Crawford got them on the scoresheet as his shot from near the crease found it’s way past goalie Sergio Del-Linz. In the second period, Jackson Dematos evened it at two when he blazed down the ice and beat Del-Linz with a backhand move. His goal came immediately after Lawrence Langan denied the Spirit. In the third period, Blake Holowaty buried the winner, while the insurance marker was potted by Ehlers high on the goalie’s glove side.
“We went to the spots you had to to get it in,” said Ehlers. “It’s a great group of guys throughout the whole season. Good coaching staff.”
The key to winning, said the captain, was making the simple plays.
Coach Geoff Goodman was happy for his players because they had worked for this all year.
“Proud of what they have done,” said Goodman. “This team has got a lot of heart. We just knew it was a matter of time. We controlled the game for most of the time. It was just a matter of time before we broke their goalie and got going.”
Even while trailing, the Vees didn’t play like a team afraid to lose. Not giving up, said Goodman, is their trademark.
“They have a good team,” he said of the Spirit. “They didn’t stop working. They are a very respectful team. They don’t play dirty. That is all you can ask for from an opponent.”
Brown played in the first game of the provincials then flew out the next day on a church mission to Nicaragua. He had informed the team of this at the start of the season. Goodman held his jersey in the team photo to show they were thinking of him.
Peewee tier 2
The Sherwood Trophy Vees placed third at the provincial championship in Salmon Arm. The Vees defeated Cranbrook 3-2 in overtime seven minutes in as Tyler Pisiak and Ethan McLaughlin did great work, according to coach Rob McLaughlin, to set up Ben Olsen. The other Vees goals were scored by Bailey Tamminga and Liam McLaren. Bryn Carter made 17 saves for the win.
While McLaughlin said he felt his team could have played in the final, he said his players should be proud of each other.
“The boys played well,” said McLaughlin. “Lot of emotions for Cranbrook and ourselves.”
The Vees played for third after having their 4-1 lead against Vancouver the game before erased. Vancouver defeated them 5-4. McLaughlin said his players got complacent, which was the wrong thing to do. Against Cranbrook, McLaughlin said his players did a good job of containing their opponent.
“We controlled more of the play and outshot them two to one,” he said. “We were in their zone more. The defence did well pinching in and keeping it in.”
It’s the second year in a row that McLaughlin’s team has finished third. He stressed that he wants his players to be proud of what they did.
“They have come such a long way and grew as a team,” said McLaughlin, adding that other teams commented on how they behaved off the ice and represented their city well. “Hopefully they will always remember it. Not everyone gets the opportunity to go to provincials and place.”