It was a tough, but encouraging weekend for Nelson’s Bantam hockey squad.
The local kids, aged 13-14, played host to a 10-team tournament last week and in four games, only managed to come away with one tie.
“In my opinion we did very well,” said Tim Mushumanski, head coach of the Nelson bantam squad.
“We ended up with one tie and three losses but we are a very young team. We only have one second-year player and one over-age player. Every one else is a first-year bantam player.”
The team also started the season with a small line up.
“We started with just 10 skaters and one goalie at the beginning of the season. We are now up to 14 skaters and one goalie, which is better for us,” said Mushumanski.
A lack of depth means the Nelson goalie, Connor Comishin, plays every game for the local team.
“We need him to not get hurt,” said the coach.
Comishin was one of the stronger players for Nelson on the weekend.
“Our goalie was spectacular, especially in a couple of games that he really kept us in it.”
Mushumanski said Comishin is one of the main reasons his squad earned a point during the event, a 5-5 tie with Trail.
“He made some outstanding saves and kept us in the game.”
Another standout was team captain Blake Markin-Hellekson, who provided great play and leadership.
Defenceman Brady Sookero was also strong on the back end as was recently turned defenceman Keanu Tromans.
“He’s played well for us and he’s new to that position. I know last year he didn’t play defence because I coached him last year.”
One big positive that the coach has taken from the tournament is the strong offensive showing.
“Our team has not scored a lot of goals this year. So for us to score five goals in that game and in another game we ended up scoring four in a 5-4 loss to Penticton, that’s good to see.”
While Nelson did not qualify for the playoff round, Mushumanski is still pleased with the progress his team has made.
In the tournament final, it was the Penticton Vees taking on the Trail Warriors. Trail took the title 4-1.
Overall, Mushumanski called the tournament a success.
“Organizationally it went very well. It was challenging to find a schedule that worked for a tournament with 10 teams,” he explained.
Normally tournaments feature 12, or eight squads.
Because of the unusual number of teams, the tournament was broken into two divisions of five.
“That forced some squads to play three games in one day which is kind tough.”
With the tournament complete, the Nelson team will return to its regular season play.
“We’ve got a couple more games before the Christmas break.”
But in January the locals head to Spokane for another tournament.
“This is a pretty nice group of kids. They respond really well to what we ask them to do. They are really positive,” said Mushumanski.