Kelowna Minor Hockey teams claimed two provincial championships this week as the midget tier 1 Rockets and the midget tier 4 Rockets both won provincial championship banners with exciting victories in their respective tournaments.
In Abbotsford, the Kelowna Fripp Warehousing midget tier 1 team had a 4-and-1 record through the round robin portion of the tournament before coming up against Langley in what turned out to be a tight championship game on Wednesday night.
Langley went up 1-0 on a power play goal in the second period and would hold onto its 1-0 lead into the third. But Austin Lindsay fired home the game tying goal on a Kelowna power play in the third period and the back and forth game would eventually go to overtime.
With just 10 seconds remaining in overtime, Kelowna’s Ryan Lawson jumped on a rebound in front of the Langley net and back-handed home the winning goal.
“I didn’t think the hockey gods were going to be with us,” said head coach Eric Blais. “We were controlling the play but we were hitting posts and couldn’t score. But the guys played very well. They just never stopped working and we found a way to win.”
Blais credited the group of Kelowna players as being one of the easiest to coach in his long run as a minor hockey coach and said it was an amazing year that included four tournament wins and a solid effort at the Kelowna elite midget tournament.
“It would have been very disappointing not to win provincials because of the year we had,” he said. “We had an incredible year. It was a pretty special feeling to win.”
The Kelowna midget tier 4 Jr. Rockets are also provincial champions after an undefeated trip to Lilloet.
Kelowna earned three wins a tie to advance to the championship game of the tier 4 provincials in the Fraser Canyon, before coming up against Burns Lake in the final, a team that was 4-0 entering the championship game.
The final featured great hockey, great goaltending and superb action as Lilloet fans packed into its arena to close out the eight team event.
Mitchell Cobbett opened the scoring in the first period for Kelowna on an assist by Markus Glowacki before Parker Armstrong scored unassisted in second period to give Kelowna a 2-0 lead.
From there it was Kelowna netminder Kevin Makasoff who shut the door as Burns Lake pushed to get back into the game but couldn’t get the puck past the Kelowna goaltender. Both teams played a well disciplined game which was enjoyed by the spectators.
In other provincial hockey results…
The West Kelowna Warriors bantam tier 2 team came close to winning the tier 2 provincials, hosted by Kelowna at the Capital News Centre.
After beating Trail 4-3 in a nail-biter in the semi-final, West Kelowna and Juan de Fuca battled into double-overtime in an excellent, back and forth and intense championship game.
Phil Isreal and Riley Thorpe scored for West Kelowna but it was Juan de Fuca’s Tyler Preziuso, who scored his hat trick goal in double OT, who played the hero.
West Kelowna earned the silver medal after a 3-1-1 tournament while the host Kelowna Jr. Rockets struggled to a 1-3 record.
•Kelowna was 2-2-1 and tied for third at the bantam tier 4 provincials in Houston with one its losses coming to eventual tournament champion Vanderhoof.
In its final tournament game against host Houston, Kelowna exploded for a 9-0 win to end the event on a positive note.
•In West Kelowna, the midget tier 2 Warriors were 3-2 overall but lost its last two games, including the bronze medal game 9-6 to Aldergrove on Wednesday, dropping a fast-paced and end to end game to close out their provincials. Penticton defeated Vancouver 4-2 in the championship final.
•At the peewee tier 4 provincials in Grand Forks, Kelowna was 3-1-1 through the round robin portion of the event, the third best record in the seven team tournament.
Results from the final day of competition were unavailable at the Capital News press deadline.