The Nelson/Castlegar Tier 3 PeeWee Rep hockey team travelled to Cranbrook last weekend to participate in a 10-team tournament featuring teams from Trail, Kimberley, Invermere, Fernie, Lethbridge, West Country, Okotoks, Spokane and the host Cranbrook.
The Nelson/Castlegar Leafs consist of Benjamin Haydu and Bryce Anderson in net, Chase MacKinnon, Connor Stainer, Mason Ouchi, and Simon Forrester on defense with wingers Dylan Moynes, Nathan Medeiros, Jackson Cousins, Devan Andrusak, Gavin Margerison, and Koby Upper centered by Dylan Watts and Reid Gerrand. Not participating in the tournament due to injury were centre Pax Arrowsmith and winger Alexander Andersen.
The Leafs went 2-1 in the round robin portion of the tournament and ended up with a goal differential which qualified them in third overall, enough to advance to the semi-final game early Sunday morning with the second place team from Trail. The Leafs started the game well, but were scored on twice in the first period.
The Leafs rallied and scored the next four goals, but couldn’t hold the lead as Trail scored two more in the third period. Forty seconds into the four-on-four overtime, the puck was pushed behind the Trail goaltender, on a rebound from a point shot, sending the Leafs to the final against the host Cranbrook Kings.
The Kings finished the round robin with five out of a possible six points, placed first overall, and defeated the fourth place Spokane chiefs in the other semi-final game that morning. In a spirited final game, the Leafs scored two goals to take an early lead but allowed a Cranbrook goal late in the first period.
Defending the meagre one-goal lead proved too difficult, and Cranbrook evened the score early in the third. The Leafs regained momentum but couldn’t score in regulation resulting in a 2-2 tie. The Leafs started the overtime four-on-three due to a residual Cranbrook penalty taken late in the third period.
Off the opening face off, Leafs left winger Nathan Medeiros picked up the loose puck, deked the Cranbrook defenceman, and scored off the crossbar to make the Nelson/Castlegar Leafs tournament champions. The success of the Leafs this past weekend was due to a good work ethic, commitment to team systems, and a dedication to team play.