Nelson area hockey players who spent a week of their spring break competing for provincial titles came home empty, but with experiences that will last a lifetime.
Nelson Minor Hockey teams and the Wildcats female program sent four teams to provincial championships last week in host communities scattered around the province. Though all teams competed hard, there will be no new blue banners hanging in the Nelson and District Community Complex next season.
In Quesnel, the Nelson Pee Wee Reps had some close games, but came away from the Tier III Pee Wee Provincials without registering a win.
The local 11 and 12 year olds opened the provincial tournament with a 4-2 loss to Kelowna that had Nelson leading until a spirited comeback by their Okanagan foes. In the second game against Creston, the third period comeback worked for Nelson who secured a 3-3 tie with Creston to keep their hopes of a semi-final berth alive.
The third game did not end the way the West Kootenay champions had hoped when Dawson Creek scored a 4-1 win. Kaleb Comishin had the only goal for Nelson.
In the team’s final game of the tournament, Nelson had a two-goal lead in the third period against Whitehorse but watched it slip away as the Yukon team scored a 5-4 win.
The Whistler Winterhawks won the Tier III title with a 1-0 win over Vanderhoof.
At the Pee Wee Female Provincials in Richmond, several Nelson girls were part of the West Kootenay Wildcats squad that turned more than a few heads with their gritty work ethic over the championship week.
The tournament started with the girls taking on the top-ranked North Shore Winterclub. Though the Wildcats — who have Emma Wheeldon, Taylor Harrison and Bryce Winters on the roster — fought hard, they could not contain the Vancouver area team’s attack and ended up losing 8-2.
The Wildcats bounced back with a 4-3 win against Victoria the next day, but then dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to Surrey in the vital third game of the tournament. The Wildcats finished with a 6-2 win over Vernon, a 5-4 loss to Prince George and a 2-1 loss to host Richmond.
Not surprisingly, the North Shore team won the female title with a 1-0 victory over Surrey.
At the Bantam Female Provincials in Victoria, the West Kootenay Wildcats were a win away from a semi-final berth.
Like their pee wee kin, the Bantam Wildcats — who have five Nelson Minor Hockey grads Merissa Dawson, Kali Horner, Jena Wheeldon, Emma Hare and Jesse Cooper on the roster — had to face the powerful North Shore Winterclub in the first game of the tournament. Despite a great effort, the Winterclub came away with a 3-0 win.
Needing to win the second game to keep their hopes alive, the Wildcats played their best game of the tournament against a strong Prince George squad. In what was described by some as the best game of the entire tournament, the northern girls managed to squeak out a 2-1 win.
In the final game of the Wildcats’ week, Hare and Wheeldon scored two goals each to help pace the locals to a 5-4 win over the South Island Royals.
The bantam female final saw Prince George beat Terrace 4-1 for the title.
The combined Kaslo/Nelson Midget Rep team travelled west for the Midget Tier III Provincials in Osoyoos.
The locals started the week off with a 3-2 win over Whitehorse, but in a tight match against Abbotsford in the second game lost 6-5. The second game loss was matched by a 6-2 loss against Quesnel in the third contest of the week.
The midgets got back on track with a 6-6 tie against Kerry Park, but ended up losing their last round robin game 2-0 to host South Okanagan.
The Tier III title was claimed by Kelowna who earned a 4-3 overtime victory against Prince Rupert.
While Nelson area teams were travelling for their shot at glory, the Nakusp Midget Rep team had an opportunity to fight for Tier IV Midget bragging rights at their home arena.
Nakusp finished the tournament with a 3-1-1 record that included round robin wins against Fort St. James and Chetwynd, a loss against Kelowna and a tie against Saanich. In the bronze medal game, the hosts beat Whitehorse 8-4.
Kelowna won the Tier IV banner 5-1 against Fort St. James.