The TR Smokee Blue Atoms hosted four teams at their annual tournament on February 4/5. Game one saw TR play the Chetwynd Chiefs at 9 am, Saturday morning. The Chiefs opened the tournament scoring at the 7-minute mark. Big Jay Kelly responded with his first goal of the weekend to knot the score at one. Chetwynd scored two more in the second. Jay cut the lead to 3-2 at the start of the third, but that was it. The Chiefs rolled on to a 5-2 victory to open the tournament. ?They are going to need more than one guy supplying the offense?, noted spectator Wayne Inman. ?This sure is fun to watch though?, added Oldtimer utility forward Scott Trim. ?This is the root of our hockey system. This is where the road to the Olympic begins?.
Teams came from Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Ft St John, and the team with the longest drive (old golf joke) was Ft Nelson. The visitors were impressed with the facility and the hospitality they received during their visit, something we all, as a community, can be proud of.
The next game the Atoms played was against the Dawson Creek Vipers. TR jumped out to a quick 3 ? 0 lead on a pair of goals by Kelly, and a single by Matthew Schribar. Assists were handed out to Nick McKay and Amanda Kruse. The Vipers made a comeback by scoring one in the first, then another in the second. Kelly got the hat trick to push the score to 4-2, but Dawson Creek narrowed the lead to one, scoring with 12 seconds left in the second period. ?Any goals against in the last minute of play are an ominous sign of things to come? observed the game?s official timer volunteer Shelley Leach.
Well the Vipers scored two more in the third to take the lead 5-4. Jay Kelly scored goal #4 with 10 minutes to go to tie it at 5. The Vipers remained strong and made it 6-5 with 8 minutes left to play, and held on the rest of the way for a 6-5 win. ?We lost 2 games today to teams that we know we can beat?, lamented Coach Dan Golob. ?Jay is doing a great job. We are definitely a better team than what was seen today.? After a short thoughtful pause, he added ?6 to 5 was the score of the final game of the Summit series in 1972. Test your friends with that one. And who scored with 34 seconds to play? These are key numbers and facts in Canadian hockey history?.
TR got the Sunday 8 am draw against Ft St John. By the end of the second period, the team was up 6-0. Goal scorers were Chris McKay with a pair, Eric Golob with a hat trick, and Jay Kelly had a single. We scored 3 more in the third, Jay had 2 and Eric had another. Ft St John replied with 4 of their own for a 9-4 finish. ?That is a good confidence builder, and that is what this team is capable of when they want to?, noted coach Brian Wylie.
The Ft Nelson squad lined up against TR in the 11 am match. After a scoreless first period, Kelly kept on his roll at the 9:30 mark for a 1-0 lead. The game was tied up, then Kelly potted another to close the period at 2-1. Whatever went on in the dressing room after the period made a difference, as Ft Nelson came out and took a 4-2 lead. Kelly cut the lead to one with 5 minutes to go. Then Eric Golob tied it with 3 ½ minutes left. It was 4-4 until Ft Nelson scored on a breakaway with 28 seconds left to get the win.
Due to the loss, TR had a 30-minute break before they played against Dawson Creek in the playoff game for 3rd place. The first two periods were tied scoreless at zero. With 7:32 left in the game, DC broke TR goaltender Dakota Kesick?s shutout to take the 1-0 lead. With time running out, Eric Golob scored to tie the game at one. The last 90 seconds ran out, and the game went into a 5-minute sudden death overtime. It was end to end with the crowd on the edge of its seat, but it resolved nothing. So each team selected 3 players for the shootout. Both goalies were giving nothing away for free, as they came up with big saves to stop all 6 shots. The coaches then selected different players to take the next shots. No goals were scored until the 8th shooter for TR, who happened to be one of the players borrowed from the Clearview Atoms. Sharissa Born simply skated in and drilled a wrist shot that bulged the back of the net, bringing the TR fans screaming to their feet. TR goalie Kesick had one more shooter to foil, and did so for the 2-1 home team win. The crowd was electric, screaming on every shot and save. ?This was definitely the place to be to witness the most exciting event of the day in Tumbler Ridge?, noted referee-in-chief Jason Collison.
The playoff for first was between Ft Nelson and the Chetwynd Chiefs. Chetwynd scored first before the Ft Nelson crew fought back to take a 3-1 lead. In an exciting come from behind effort, Chetwynd won the game 5-3 to take the crown.
?It?s been a great weekend at the rink, made possible by a good group of volunteers sharing a big workload?, noted volunteer and hockey mom Sherri Golob. ?Thanks to everybody.?