Bantams earn provincial spot

From the start of the season, Nelson’s talented bantam rep squad seemed destined for a berth in the B.C. Tier III Provincial Championships in Smithers. This past weekend the Castlegar Reps tried to spoil the party.

The Nelson Pee Wee Reps are also battling it out for a berth in the provincials. On Saturday the team lost 6-5 to Rossland/Trail. Here Matthew Brind’Amour scores Nelson’s fourth goal. Game two of the series moves to Trail on Saturday where the Nelson club needs to win to stay alive.

The Nelson Pee Wee Reps are also battling it out for a berth in the provincials. On Saturday the team lost 6-5 to Rossland/Trail. Here Matthew Brind’Amour scores Nelson’s fourth goal. Game two of the series moves to Trail on Saturday where the Nelson club needs to win to stay alive.

From the start of the season, Nelson’s talented bantam rep squad seemed destined for a berth in the B.C. Tier III Provincial Championships in Smithers. This past weekend the Castlegar Reps tried to spoil the party.

With a 10-2 record in regular season West Kootenay play, Nelson held a distinct edge over the 3-7-2 club from the west. But when the puck dropped Friday night on the first-to-four-points series at the NDCC it was a battle the locals didn’t expect.

In a rough and tumble affair that featured three rowdy Castlegar parents getting ejected from the arena, it was the visitors who came out flying. By the end of the first 20 minutes, Nelson held a 3-2 advantage.

“The kids were kind of nervous, but they settled down after the first period,” said Nelson coach Jeff Hunt.

Regrouping after the first, Nelson managed to escape game one with a 9-3 win.

The scene switched to Castlegar for game two where Nelson carried the momentum from the opener and built a 5-1 lead by midway through the second period. But Castlegar wasn’t going to go away and mounted a comeback.

“We folded our tent,” Hunt said of the game that ended in a 7-7 tie. “We were hanging on by the end of the second period and it just unraveled.”

Needing one more point to earn a ticket to Smithers, game three returned to the NDCC on Sunday.

“We talked about some of the technical side of the game,” Hunt said of the coaching staff’s chat after game two.

“We failed everywhere, but told the kids that they needed to put it behind them and show a little more passion for game three.

“Castlegar is fired up every time they head to the ice, they always give everything they have. Our team is a little more conservative, but in the second and third period of Sunday’s game we were outstanding.”

It didn’t start that way as Castlegar built a 3-0 lead after the first period. But in the second Nelson woke up with goals from Sam Weber, Nolan Percival, Colton Daschwitz and Brandon Sookro.

In the third period Sawyer Hunt clinched the 5-4 win and Nelson secured the berth into the provincials.

Despite fighting more of a battle than anticipated, Coach Hunt said facing adversity was perfect preparation for the provincials at the end of March.

“The kids need to understand before they go to Smithers that playoffs and provincials are totally different than league games,” he told the Star.

“They bring out a new level of spirit from most of the competitors. Our team needed to realize that in order to be successful you have to play with enormous intensity because sometimes it’s not always the best teams that win the playoffs, it’s the teams that work the hardest.”