In 2014, the Waterloo Wolves were cast aside in the final of the BDO Kelowna International Elite Midget Tournament by Tyson Jost and the B.C. Major Midget League’s Okanagan Rockets.
Two years later, the Wolves were more than happy to be the bearer of bad news to an another Okanagan opponent.
Zack Cameron scored a hat-trick and Max Wright stopped 22 shots for the shutout as Waterloo drubbed Okanagan Hockey Academy Red 7-0 Sunday in the championship game of the 37th annual tournament at Rutland Arena.
“It means a lot to our program,” Wolves’ head coach Jeff Brick said of his team’s win on Sunday. “Two years ago we lost to a very strong Okanagan Rockets team, it showed us what it takes to be an elite triple-A team, so that helped us figure out what we needed to do to get to that level.
“We’ve been working on it ever since then and it’s nice to see the boys respond the way they did.”
For OHA Red, it was a tough pill to swallow for the second time in five years. Robert Dirk’s team also came up short in the 2011 final against the Notre Dame Argos.
“It’s an accomplishment to get here to the final, but once you do, you just want to win it,” said Dirk, the head coach of the Penticton-based academy. “You’ve got to give Waterloo credit, they’re a helluva team. They executed better, they won more races and more battles, and they just wanted it a little more than my guys did.”
The Okanagan Rockets, who won the tournament in 2010 and 2014, failed to reach the championship round for the second year in a row. A 2-1 overtime loss to the Moose Jaw Generals on Saturday ended the hopes of the Rockets who finished at 2-1-1-1.
The host Kelowna Fripp Warehousing Rockets—the three-time defending tier 1 B.C. champs—more than held their own against stiff competition, finishing with a 2-3 record.
Coached by Lee Hamilton, the Rockets recorded wins over Pacific Coast Academy and OHA White.
“Playing against some of the best midget teams, they did very well and they’ll go back to their league with all the confidence in the world,” said tournament chairman, Greg Stark. “They get themselves in shape to play in this tournament and it really showed.”
Forward Jeremy Hite of the Fripp Rockets was named to the first all-star team, while Okanagan Rockets blue liner Spencer Hora was named to the second team.
Among changes next year for the 38th edition of the tournament, Stark expects most of the games will be played at Rutland Arena, with the Capital News Centre to likely replace Memorial Arena as the second host venue.
Stark said the organizing committee would also like to see more B.C. Major Midget League teams—as many as four—entered on 2017’s tournament roster.