The Whistler Wolves have captured their first championship.
On May 27, the Sea to Sky's own rugby league club put together a 22-10 victory over the Point Grey Thunder in the Grand Final of this year's Rugby League British Columbia (RLBC) Nines Tournament. Newcomer Alec Reid earned MVP honours at Whistler Secondary School (WSS), and the Wolves finally have some hardware to put in their trophy case.
With distant thunderclaps setting a tone for the afternoon, the Wolves avenged last year's 26-24 setback to Point Grey.
"I think all of us just came together really well," said team captain Josh Michalik after the game. "At the start [of the day], we'd never played with each other before. We came from other clubs, different places, and it all meshed."
The Thunder, a capable squad with athletes from BC Rugby's Premier and Premier Reserve divisions, got off to the fast start with a try in the contest's opening moments. Whistler responded not five minutes later, as Michalik and veteran Blake Mahovic set up Zachary Jamison for a try of his own.
Midway through the first half, a Point Grey ball carrier was shaken up in a bone-jarring one-on-one collision with a Wolves defender, resulting in a brief stoppage. The home team seized command of the game from there, as Reid and Michalik both gashed their opponents down the middle of the field to score.
Attempting to wrest momentum back, the Thunder used an early second-half turnover to make inroads upon Wolves territory. Michalik, however, snuffed out that offensive with a physical tackle and Whistler poured it on.
Reid stole the ball from a Point Grey player and broke a long run, nearly going all the way. His heroics ended up placing Mahovic in position to invade the end zone. Not long afterwards, Reid punched in his second try of the game.
"Without [my teammates'] support, I can't score tries," said Reid, who is originally from New South Wales, Australia. "We play nine-minute halves [in nines rugby]. You have limited time to possess the ball, so you do have to make the most of it."
The Thunder finally scored again in the match's waning seconds, but it was too little, too late.
Overall, it was an excellent Saturday for the Wolves. They dropped their first round-robin match 10-8 against Point Grey, with Mahovic narrowly missing a kick, but ran the table from there with wins against the Vancouver Dragons (16-8), Valley Warriors (20-8) and Vancouver Valley Vipers (12-4).
The Dragons ended up in third place after the Vipers forfeited the small final.
Gibbons and Tapley's Pub were on hand throughout the day, providing hot food and beverages to players and fans.