A pair of Nelson Minor Hockey teams narrowly missed bringing home two more West Kootenay banners to hang in the Nelson and District Community Complex. Last weekend both the Pee Wee House Stingrays and Atom A Leafs went to shootout in the playoff finals of their respective leagues. Both came away second best.
In Nakusp, the Nelson pee wees (aged 11 and 12) started their road to the finals slowly, falling behind 3-0 to an upstart Boundary squad. The locals bounced back to win the first round robin game 8-5. The Stingrays then secured their spot in the top four on Saturday by beating the Pee Wee Wildcats 4-1 and then crushing the Nelson Pee Wee Leafs 12-2.
In the semi-finals the Stingrays again started slow, falling behind to Castlegar. In the second half of the game, the Stingrays’ Quin Hall took over, scoring all of his team’s five goals as the locals earned a berth in the final with a 5-2 win.
In the final the Stingrays were matched up against a powerhouse Nakusp team who had not lost a game all season long.
Nelson came out strong with captain Brady Sookro scoring the game’s first goal in the second period. Shortly after Alex McMillian made the score 2-0 for the Stingrays.
Penalty trouble then gripped Nelson as they allowed four unanswered goals which held until late in the game. First Hall made the game 4-3 and with 17 seconds remaining in regulation time Sookro tied it up.
Overtime solved nothing with great saves by Nelson goalie Connor Comishin to give his team a chance. The game was forced into shootout where Nakusp came away with the title.
Meanwhile in Fruitvale another dramatic weekend was unfolding for the Nelson Atom A Leafs.
In round robin play the Nelson atoms (aged nine and ten), compiled a 2-1 record with wins over host Beaver Valley and Castlegar. The only loss came in a 5-3 contest with Rossland-Trail.
In the semi-final, Nelson was again matched against their rivals from the south, Rossland-Trail. The game went the distance in regulation and ended 3-3 which forced overtime. Two minutes into the overtime frame, Reece Hunt scored the winner to send the Leafs into the final.
In the final, Nelson was up against regular season champion Spokane who did not win a lose a game all season. Late in the game Nelson held a 6-5 advantage, but with just over a minute left to play the American squad tied the game to send it into overtime. The extra frame solved nothing and the locals lost a heartbreaker in the shootout.
The two Nelson midget house teams were also in West Kootenay playoff action last weekend, hosting the tournament.
Nelson 1 midgets (aged 15 to 18) came into the playoffs ranked fifth out of eight teams and had to play all their games on Saturday. The locals came away with a 2-1 round robin record after wins against Nelson 2 (5-1) and Kaslo (8-1), and a 3-1 loss against Rossland-Trail.
By the time the semi-final game came around against Rossland-Trail the locals had run out of gas and lost 7-1.
The team was backstopped by superb goaltending from Jordan Bachinski, who travelled back from his new home of Invermere to help his team get to the semi-finals.
The playoffs also helped usher the end to minor hockey careers for Cam Olson, James Greer, Jake Kindred, Rowan Weber and Sean Bow, all who will be too old next season.
The West Kootenay minor hockey house season will end this weekend with two more divisions taking part in the playoffs. A pair of Nelson bantam house teams will host the playoffs at the NDCC and Civic Centre, while the Atom B team is heading to Trail for their playoffs.