Anyone who says “defense wins championships” hasn’t met the Nelson Selects U16 Boys whose d-line was perhaps the best of the weekend, but a notable lack of offense resulted in a second placed finish at the Sam Steele Days tournament at Moir Park in Cranbrook. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. Nelson just couldn’t find the net.
On Saturday afternoon, Nelson opened with a 2-0 win over Canmore in a physical contest.
Nelson opened the scoring two minutes into the second half when James Miller followed up on a Spencer Szabo shot that the goalie couldn’t hang on to. The ball twisted out of his hands and onto the feet of the rapidly approaching Miller who made no mistake with the one-timer.
With the play still tight in the first half, Andrew Knapik would get an important second goal for the team midway through the frame on a fine individual effort as he twisted and turned through three defenders on the edge of the 18-yard box before unleashing a sharp shot that would beat the Canmore keeper.
Game two that afternoon saw the first rematch with arch rival Columbia Valley, the Invermere-based team Nelson dispatched from the Kootenay playdowns a week previous to advance to the Provincial B Cup.
This time it would be Columbia Valley victorious as they held on for a 1-0 win over the Selects after Nelson inadvertently scored an own-goal two minutes into the second half following some pressure in their own end.
Needing a tie or a win to advance to the final, Nelson would get the former Sunday as they played to a 0-0 draw with Creston. Nelson was dominant in possession play and had many chances on goal but couldn’t find the back of the net. With the likes of Nick Wethal, Amit Bhabra and Theo Bakas among others the team was superb defensively allowing only one scoring chance for Creston the entire match.
The final match would end up exactly as the two teams met before with a 1-0 Columbia Valley win over Nelson and it was again the Selects scoring an own-goal in the first minute of the second half, this time in a frantic scramble in front of the Nelson keeper. Otherwise, it was another defensive battle that again saw Nelson miss on many chances against a very worthy goalkeeper.
In the four games, Nelson would only allow two goals, both own goals. Conversely, they only managed two goals all tournament, both in the first game. Liam Guenther was keeper for the Selects in all matches.