It came down to the last goal scored in the final game, but for the first time in four years, the Tumbler Ridge Raptors won a hockey tournament.
“Now they know what it feels like to win,” grinned coach Jason Collison.
The peewee team, comprised of 11 and 12 year old boys and two girls, went 3 – 1 in the tournament, which was played in Tumbler Ridge two weekends ago (February 12 and 13).
The action got underway on Saturday morning at 9 a.m., with the Raptors facing the Fort St. John Oil West Electric. The home team got off to a great start, winning 8 – 0 and outshooting their opposition by about 30 – 15. George Michael Taylor led the way with a stellar 4-goal effort, earning the hustler award for the game.
The next game was at 2 p.m., and the Raptors again had a great game, beating the Clearview team 5 – 0. Jordan Salewski was named the hustler, and Tumbler Ridge held about a 25 – 20 edge in shots. Goalie Jadien Slingerland played strong games throughout the tournament.
Sunday's game kicked off at 7 a.m., with Tumbler Ridge losing to the Fort Nelson Fury by a score of 7 – 4.
“No Tumbler Ridge team ever plays exceptionally well in the morning,” noted Collison wryly. Tumbler Ridge made it interesting, coming back to within one goal after being down 4 – 1 at the end of the second period. Fort Nelson held the edge in shots with a mragin of about 35 – 30, and Brooklyn Collison was named the team's hustler.
The final game, on Sunday at 12:15 p.m., pitted the Raptors against the Mackenzie Knights in a “very rough, physical contest,” said Collison. Mackenzie was assessed 41 penalty minutes in the game. Due to goals scored being the key differential in the tournament, Tumbler Ridge won the tournament on the final goal, scored by George Michael Taylor, in the 5 – 1 victory. Goalie Jadien Slingerland was named the team's hustler.
Collison described the tournament win as a result of “hard work, passing the puck, and having fun.” He's coached the same group of kids for the last four years, and has seen steady progress throughout the seasons. In the tournament, he also highlighted the play of Seth Treit and Adam Walsh. Walsh was moved to forward from defence, and responded with two goals in the tournament.
Kurt Render took the role of co-coach in the tournament. The team's record on the season, while not officially tracked, is about 15 – 6, said Collison.