Kelowna midgets wins Lethbridge tourney
Faced with a tougher, more physical style of play than back home in B.C., the Kelowna Fripp Warehousing responded to the challenge by winning the Lethbridge Athletic Association midget hockey tournament.
The Rockets went unbeaten in five games (4-0-1) over the course of the three-day tourney, securing the title with a 6-1 win over Rossland/Trail tier 2 team.
"A very good T2 team from B.C.," Rockets coach Eric Blais said of the Rossland/Trail team,"but they were unable to match our skill and speed. This was definitely our best effort of the weekend, as we were firing on all cylinders."
Kelowna opened the tournament with a 3-3 tie against Sherwood Park and discovered very quickly the difference in the way the midget game is played in Alberta.
"We were introduced to Alberta hockey, very physical and the reffing was very liberal with players finishing their checks, " added Blais. "But the reffing was balanced both ways, and once we got used to the way it was being called we actually thrived. I was very happy with the way our team responded to the physical play as we answered the bell every time, playing physical and then taking over games with our speed and skill."
Kelowna also defeated Lethbridge 9-5, downed Whitehorse 11-4, and then edged Olds 5-4 in the tournament semifinal.
Forward Carter Hikichi led the Rockets offensively during the tournament with five goals and nine points. Riley Stewart had 10 points on three goals and seven assists, Adam Beatty had four goals and three assists, defenceman Kevin Roth had three goals and eight points, while Josh Blanchard and Braeden Cyra added seven points each.
Game MVPs were Hikichi, Blanchard, Beatty, Roth and Andrew MacLeod.
"All in all a good trip and gets us ready for the next five weeks leading up to the provincials in March," added Blais.
The Okanagan Mainline playoffs begin later this month. Kelowna will host the B.C. midget tier 1 championship during spring break.
The Kelowna Rockets midget tier 1 girls team will open the Okanagan Mainline playoffs this weekend.
On Saturday, the Rockets will visit Kamloops in the opener of the best-of-three series.
Game 2 will go Sunday in Kamloops, with a third game if needed, to be played in Kelowna on Saturday, Feb. 18. The series winner will battle Salmon Arm in the league final.
Kelowna closed out the regular season last weekend with two games against the Kelowna bantam A girls.
On Saturday, the bantams scorded with just over four minutes to play to upset the midget Rockets 4-3.
On Sunday, the Kelowna midgets got even with a 4-0 win. Kirsten Wiltshire posted the shutout.