The host Kelowna bantam Rockets celebrate their bronze medal at the Western Canada AAA championship

Kelowna bantams bronzed at Westerns

Host Rockets defeat Manitoba in third place game at AAA championship Sunday at Rutland Arena

On Saturday, the host Kelowna Rockets were just over a minute away from missing out on the playoffs entirely.

A day later, the Rockets were celebrating a bronze medal win at the Western Canada Bantam AAA Hockey Championship.

The Rockets downed the Manitoba champion Winnipeg Monarchs 2-1 Sunday afternoon at Rutland Arena to finish third at the five-team bantam showcase.

Competing against the four champions from the Western provinces, the Rockets were considered the underdogs at the championship, but head coach Tom Watters said his club’s resolve, work ethic and commitment to team play made the difference.

“I think the boys realized that hard work pays off,” said Watters. “Because that’s really what it was, and it was a total team effort. There were some boys that didn’t see quite as much ice as they would have liked, but I’m sure they’re happy with the result.”

With the Rockets clinging to a 2-1 lead late in the game, Manitoba pulled their goaltender and very nearly scored the equalizer. But the puck bounced off the goal post and stayed out, a sign that perhaps the bronze was in the stars.

“We’ve been snake-bitten a few times this year and more often that not we’ve had good luck in the last five minutes of our hockey games,” Watters said. “It was a gutsy win, the boys played hard. Not much offence in the third, but we sure looked after our end of the ice.”

The Rockets lost their first three games of the tournament and came up against Yorkton, Sask., another winless team, in their final round robin game on Saturday morning.

Kelowna trailed 2-1 with time winding down and needed to earn a tie to move onto the playoffs. With just over a minute remaining and their net empty for an extra attacker, Kelowna evened the count on a goal by Jeremy Hite and the Rockets were on their way to the bronze medal game.

“That play that got us into this game was executed perfectly, the boys did a great job on that,” Watters said.

In the end, Watters said his team competed and did Kelowna proud with its effort against  Western Canada’s elite bantam talent.

“We were only really out of one hockey game out of the five that we played,” he said. “It was our 70th game of hockey this year, so we’re ecstatic with the result.”

The Rockets are: Jordan Wilde, Justin Bradley, Mitchell Prowse, Wyatt Head, Spencer Hora, Zach Whitehead, Matt Alcorn, Seth Barton, Connor Marritt, Ryan Moon, Lucas Cullen, Michael McCready, Daman Kraeleman, Eli Zummack, Hayden Courtney, Keltie Jeri-Leon, Jeffrey Karpowoch, Jeremy Hite, Scott Freeman and James Fischer. The coaches are Tom Watters, Brian Cullen and Sean Mulcahy, the manager is Dave Alcorn, while David Marritt looks after safety for the Rockets.

Meanwhile, in a thrilling championship final, North Shore Winter Club defeated the Alberta champion Lloydminster Heat 4-3 in double overtime to claim the gold medal.


Just Posted

Reel Reviews: Fear or love

We say, “Once again, one worth seeing, one not.”

Two people safe after falling through ice

Kelowna Fire Department urges caution around icy waters during warm weather

Missing Kelowna woman sought

RCMP are asking for assistance in locating Christine Olsen-Meissnitzer

Plane lands safely after takeoff issue

An airplane departing Kelowna International Airport had an issue with a landing gear, landed safely

KSS rocks and rolls for 37th straight year

Kelowna secondary students let loose with annual Air Bank competition

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Captain Cal Foote is Rockets’ MVP

The Rockets hand out their annual team awards Sunday at Kelowna Community Theatre

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

Cancer fundraiser takes to Okanagan Lake

Penticton and Naramata joining growing fundraising event

Elke’s Garden Tips: Good time to prepare

Lake Country garden columnist talks about what to do at this time of the year

Letter: Crying fowl over goose cull witness

Kelowna letter-writer says Canada geese come with many issues

Letter: I was born in Kelowna in 1930…

Kelowna letter-writer has some ideas on how things should run nowadays

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read