The Nelson Leafs under-13 travel team embarked together on a trip to Richmond for the Richmond Jets Spring Break Tournament that ran March 11 to 13.
Represented were all of Nelson’s U13 teams and three U11 Leafs rounded out the bunch, mostly 11-year-olds with a few senior 12-year-olds and a brave nine-year-old. What these young Leafs lacked in size, they made up for in heart, facing much larger squads from Richmond, Surrey, and Chilliwack.
The Leafs skated to a 2-2 draw to start the tournament against Richmond. Solid goaltending on both sides earned Kaidance Mackay the MVP.
The next game against a much larger Surrey team (and eventual gold-medal winners), whose fledgling moustaches struck terror into the hearts of our young Leafs, ended in a 8-1 drubbing. A shining moment through this adversity saw Casey Ogle setting up his nine-year-old brother Fletcher for a beauty one-timer for Nelson’s lone tally. Elliot Kim was Nelson’s MVP.
The next game was a must win for Nelson if they still wanted a shot at a medal. They were facing another Richmond team and after one period were down 2-0. Our Leafs struck in the second for three goals but still trailed at the buzzer 4-3. Then just 17 seconds into the third period the Leafs knotted the score at 4-4 and with only three minutes left took a 5-4 lead that carried them into the semifinals with their first win. Casey Ogle scored the game winner and got the MVP.
Saturday night saw the team celebrate the 11th birthday (at the Vancouver Canucks Game) and all-star play of stay-at-home defenceman Seth Lowe.
Onward to the semis where Nelson had to face an undefeated Richmond squad. The Leafs lost 10-3 as the two undefeated teams would play for gold. Tjaz Zumpano-Intihar got Nelson’s MVP.
This meant that Nelson would have a chance to face the much larger farm boys representing Chilliwack in the bronze-medal game.
Our Leafs had the medal on their minds as they skated circles around their frustrated opponents shocking the Chilliwack Chiefs with an 11-0 offensive explosion. Ericson Smith found the net five times, Kaidance Mackay got the shutout between the pipes, and Noah Rawles picked up the MVP.
The team, coaching staff and parents were all elated to see the kids awarded their much deserved bronze medals for the little team that could from Nelson.