By Breanne Massey
The quest for a provincial title came to a heartbreaking end when the Windermere Valley Bantam Rockies returned to the Columbia Valley with silver.
At the Tier 4 BC Hockey Provincial Playdowns in Fraser Lake, the team made up of 14- and 15-year-old boys from Invermere and Golden lost 9-5 against Whistler during the semi-final game on March 18th.
I knew the final was going to be tough and I am very proud of the effort and compete level of our boys, said coach Darryl Turner. To see how much we improved through the season and how close we came to being a provincial championship team is something the (boys) should feel special about at the end of the day, experiences like the one we just went through will be remembered for the rest of the players lives. After all, arent the memories and friendships what we play for?
The Bantams opened the round robin portion of the tournament against the Okanagan Champions from Revelstoke, which was the only team the Rockies had faced during the year and had lost 8-3 in a lopsided January affair. The boys fell behind 2-1 before fighting back to win 6-4. They then faced the hosting team, Fraser Lake, in front of a large and robust crowd. The Rockies again fell behind 4-2 after one period before storming back and winning 12-6.
On the second day into the tournament, the Rockies went toe-to-toe against Burns Lake, coming out with an 8-3 triumph. The third day put the Rockies up against Houston, which allowed the team to remain undefeated 4-0 and set the tone for the semi-finals.
The provincial title game opened with Whistler scoing on the first shift of the game and the momentum continued for the team when two goals by the Rockies were waved off in the first period. The Columbia Valley boys continued to battle, but timely penalties hurt their chances at winning gold.
At one point, the Rockies were down 5-1 before battling back to make it 7-5.
In the end, the team found themselves on the wrong end of the 9-5 provincial final, despite outshooting Whistler 42-23 during the game.
Ultimately, the bantams came out with a sense of respect for the game and their provincial opponents.
The only thing we knew was that usually the teams representing the Lower Mainland and Okanagan are very strong as they have quite a battle to qualify for provincials, said Mr. Turner. Our coaching staff did our best to make sure the boys realized and understood their accomplishments.
Although the loss may have felt devastating, the Rockies have dubbed the team experience as worth more than the gold.
With files from Darryl Turner