The Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association’s Atom Development Program team won gold at the Pacific Rim Invitational Tournament held Jan. 17 to 19 in Powell River, B.C.
Things started well for Whitehorse, opening the tournament with an 8-3 win against the Powell River Kings on Jan. 17 and dispatching the Oceanside Generals 4-1 and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-2 on Jan. 18. The win against the Bulldogs marked the end of Alberni Valley’s undefeated streak, having won three tournaments to date with a 12-0 record.
With a 3-0 record, Whitehorse was the top seed heading into the semifinals against Oceanside. Whitehorse wore down the Generals, winning 7-0 despite the opening two periods being very close.
The final was a rematch with the Bulldogs, giving Alberni Valley the chance to avenge their earlier round-robin defeat.
Whitehorse struck first, taking a 1-0 lead on the back of a powerplay goal early. The Bulldogs stormed back with three goals in 45 seconds, however, and took the lead into the second period.
In the second frame, Whitehorse scored two goals in 12 seconds to tie things up late in the period.
Alberni Valley scored near the halfway mark of the third to take a 4-3 lead, but Whitehorse responded a few minutes later to tie the game again at 4-4 with seven minutes left.
Despite a late powerplay for Whitehorse, the two teams remained tied after regulation.
That powerplay, however, did carry over into overtime and the 4-3 man advantage was the opportunity Whitehorse needed as the team scored 43 seconds into overtime to win the game and the tournament.
Three Whitehorse players were selected for the tournament all-star team. Goaltender Harrison Dolding and defencemen Ollie Halowaty and Nathan Neunherz were all named to the team, a well-deserved recognition of a team that allowed just 10 goals in five games.
Head coach Jordan Moore said he was impressed with his team’s performance on and off the ice.
“We ask a lot of these players despite being only nine and 10 years old,” said Moore. “I feel that they did a great job of exercising discipline with respect to everything from their diet to physical preparation, resting appropriately and even participating in visualization exercises before our games.”
This was the team’s second tournament and Moore said the progress from earlier this season in Salmon Arm, B.C., was notable.
“That was our first tournament and for a lot of these kids, it was their first away tournament,” said Moore. “Some of the team, our first year players, this is their first season playing full-ice hockey. … I was pretty happy with the progress from the first to the second tournament.”
Moore said that although half the all-star was from Whitehorse, the victory was really a team effort.
“We had five games that spanned less than 60 hours,” said Moore. “So we had contributions from every player to make this a success.”
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