The Phoenix did not fall prey to the Vultures.
The Penticton Minor Hockey Association’s peewee recreation hockey tournament finale Sunday featured the Penticton Phoenix and Vultures. The Phoenix won 6-4, but not before Vulture Richter Heintz picked the top corner on a breakaway on a buzzer beater.
“I think they played really well. They played well all weekend,” said Phoenix coach Tony Orioli. “Forechecking, back checking, that’s their game. They really worked together as a team.”
Phoenix right winger Lucca Peever said it was exciting to win, though it was intense to play against some of his friends.
“I think they played good. They were pretty rough,” he said. “I enjoyed how we worked hard and we didn’t give up.”
Orioli said the championship game was their best, but also noticed improvement from the other Penticton team. While the two squads have played each other only twice before, Orioli said there is a rivalry.
“It’s good, the kids like it,” he said. “They like playing against their classmates. It’s nice to see a Penticton-Penticton final.”
The Phoenix opened with a 11-5 win over West Kelowna, then defeated Kamloops 11-1, Grand Forks 8-6 and Kelowna 7-1 to advance to the final. Their most valuable players through the tournament were Dante Big Eagle, Taya Kampe, Carson Drobe, Devon Byer and Nathan Chandler in the final.
Rene Spence, coach of the Vultures, said it was a tough loss to swallow since they played so well. It’s the third straight silver medal they have picked up this season, in three tournaments.
“It’s pretty tough, but I’m still proud that the kids made it to the final,” he said. “They played very, very well. They played as a team and really worked hard. They never give up.”
The Vultures opened the tournament with a 3-1 win over Merritt, then defeated Langley 5-3 and 4-0 over Kamloops. The Vultures defeated Coquitlam 6-3 to advance to the finals.
The Penticton Wolverines won two of four games. They opened with a 9-3 loss to Langley and an 11-2 loss to Coquitlam. They defeated West Kelowna 3 9-0 and West Kelowna 2, 5-4. The Penticton Hurricanes won one of four games. They opened with a 5-1 loss Grand Forks. They earned a 3-3 tie against West Kelowna and lost 6-3 to Kelowna and finished with a 6-3 win over Merritt.
Peerless wins banner
The Penticton Peerless midget Tier 2 Vees won the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association regular season banner with a convincing 7-0 win over Kamloops on Jan.23.
Sammy Gabriel scored a hat trick to seal the title. Reid Newson added a goal and four assists, while Liam McLaren scored twice and Manny Bahniwal added a single. Bobby Milligan picked up the shutout.
On Sunday, the Vees closed out their regular season with a 9-1 exhibition win over Trail. Nick Graham, Carson Erhardt and Bahniwal had two goals each with singles coming from Gabriel, Linden Gove and Morey Babakaiff. Strong defensive play from Steve Sauer, Aiden Hutcheson, Dane Bateman, Dawson Jenner and Billy Beecroft helped Alyck Coombes seal the win with a 22-save performance.
The Vees will open up the OMAHA playoffs this coming weekend with a best of series against Kamloops.