By Greg Skinner

Pioneer staff

Winning one out of six hockey games on the ice is still a victory for U13 hockey in the valley. The kids got to compete at a high level for the first time and do it on home ice in front of their community. The bonus is that maybe some will stay with the club and at home throughout their  junior hockey ‘A’ level development years.

The Windermere Valley Minor Hockey Association (WVMHA) hosted the U13 Tier 4 championships March 19-23 at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena in Invermere. For this tournament, the Rockies posted a 23-player roster, which includes some players from Golden, B.C.

The Kitimat Winterhawks finished the week as undefeated champions with six wins and one tie. Of the seven teams posted for the tournament, the Rockies finished sixth with five losses and one win, which came on the opening night of the tourney. That night, the Rockies managed two hat tricks by the end of the second period against 100 Mile House. 

It was quite a learning experience for the players and the coaches and the parents, said coach,  Brad Cable. For most of his 23 players it was their first go at a high level of competition. Fun and skills building has been their primary focus, but now it’s going more into the competitive nature of the game. They’re learning about responsible competition and a growing sense of their own actions in relation to others. Sportsmanship and civility on and off the ice are up there with fun and games.

Rural areas and mountain towns are used to their kids going away for opportunity. Growing the junior level hockey program in the valley is part of the program that Cable is focused on in his second year with WVMHA. 

The best young players in the valley would traditionally be drawn to development teams and host families. Half the team will rise to the next level in the coming year. They age out, said Cable. 

“Let’s keep them here as long as possible.”