The Whistler Winterhawks were downright offensive at the Bantam Tier 4 provincial finals.
The bantam rep squad won five of six games, including a 9-5 victory over Windermere Valley in the March 18 final, to claim the crown in Fraser Lake. The Winterhawks provided a boost for red light manufacturers, outscoring opponents 50-21 in the process.
Captain Cody Flann described a "chill" celebration, though head coach Bob Andrea recalled a good level of excitement among the teens.
"Imagine 13 and 14 year olds and what they've been thinking about," Andrea said. "They had gloves off, helmets off, swarming the goalie.
"We enjoyed watching our kids out there celebrating. This really brought them together as a team and I don't think any of the kids will ever forget that. It's a great feeling."
The road wasn't entirely smooth for Whistler, which was returning several players from a peewee championship team in 2012. A bump came in the second game of the tournament after opening with a 10-2 thumping of Houston. A slow start saw them trailing less than six minutes into the game, and it ultimately sunk the Winterhawks in a 4-3 loss to Revelstoke. In their remaining four games, though, they never won by fewer than four goals.
"After that game, we weren't really down, because we played almost our best game," Andrea said. "We started really slow, got in a little penalty trouble, but otherwise, we were very strong. Their goalie probably had the game of his life."
Andrea added in addition to being stymied in the offensive zone, the Winterhawks also had numerous shots clank off the post and out. Whistler had a chance for redemption that evening, facing off with host Fraser Lake, and it started like a sequel to the morning action as they found themselves trailing 2-0 seven minutes in. The Winterhawks got themselves together and cruised to a 13-4 victory on the strength of a five-goal second period. They then got past Burns Lake 7-2 and wrapped the round-robin by defeating Windermere Valley 8-4, setting up a rematch later that day for the championship.
"We just kept on working at it and it worked out for us," Flann said. "We knew we could beat every team, we just had a bad game in that one game (against Revelstoke).
"After that, the goals started to come."
In the final, Whistler bookended the first period with goals, tallying just 13 seconds into the contest and plugging one home in the frame's final second. It was a costly stanza, though as defenceman Noah Malthaner was lost to injury in the first minute of the game.
Andrea credited the Fraser Lake community for embracing the tournament, noting each school class had picked a team to support and learned more about that town in the process. Even though the hometown team wasn't playing for first, the Winterhawks would never have known.
"In the final game, it seemed like half the town was there," Andrea said. "It was packed. And loud."
"When they're cheering the whole game, it's kind of a different atmosphere," Flann added.
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