Morning Star Staff
They shed some tears for a friend and teammate and then struck silver in the Smiles for Miles Memorial Bantam Rec Hockey Tournament Sunday at Civic Arena.
Vernon’s Five Star Awards Cougars bowed 5-1 to the Penticton Vees in the final of the 10-team affair, named after popular hockey player Miles Wohlford, who died last summer in a boating accident on Okanagan Lake.
Wohlford, who was 14, wore the Cougar sweater last season. His mom, Randi Lund, received roses and hugs from players on six teams in an emotional ceremony prior to the gold-medal game.
“It was hard to focus on hockey after that, but the kids did their best to gather their emotions and competed as well as we could expect,” said Cougar head coach Paul Wery.
“It was a great tournament and the kids had a ton of fun. We made it to the final because of great team work and unselfish play. I feel fortunate to be coaching such a great group of kids.”
Penticton jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the middle of the second before Elias Wery banged in a rebound off a deflected point shot. Penticton responded quickly making it 4-1 after two.
Vernon pressed for more offence with the line of Emily Wilson-Francois, Reid Lawrence and Kimberly Whitelaw buzzing around the net. Determined forwards Wyatt Gatzke, Jacob Barnett and Nic Hartwig checked hard throughout the game, creating numerous turnovers and scoring chances.
Dynamic d-man Jadon Foster was game MVP for the Cougars, who got solid showings from net detectives Nicholas Maglio and Jordan Foster.
Earlier Sunday, Brayden Beacom supplied four snipes as Five Star Awards doubled the undefeated Chilliwack Bruins 4-2.
It was 2-2 with eight minutes left when Wery stole the puck in the Chilliwack end and hung on to it for what seemed like an eternity, before making a great pass back door to Beacom for the winner.
With four minutes to go and on a power play, Chilliwack pulled their goalie and pressed for the equalizer. Beacom jumped out of the penalty box, grabbed a loose puck and completed the scoring with an empty netter.
Tanner Franje-Gilbert scored four times, while Wery and Dexter Weiten each netted a pair as the Cougars ambushed the Williams Lake Green Hornets 9-0 Saturday night.
Talon Williams (1+2) and Beacom rounded out the offence. Lawrence had two helpers.
Vernon fell 8-5 to Kamloops Blazers early Saturday morning with Beacom (2), Gatzke, Franje-Gilbert and Lawrence getting the goals and swift-skating Aaron Jodoin earning two assists.
Beacom produced 3+1 as Vernon iced the West Kelowna Warriors 8-3 in their opener.
Interior Savings Just Orange finished with two straight wins to go 2-2 and end up seventh in the Smiles for Miles.
Todd Wenger’s team brushed back Williams Lake 3-1 Sunday. Captain Reece Hawthorne’s second goal of the game late in the second period snapped a 1-1 tie with defenceman Dakota Becker adding an unassisted insurance goal late in the contest.
Forward Luca Maric was the player of the game for Just Orange, who capped off the round robin in style Saturday afternoon at the Priest Valley Arena, dumping the previously unbeaten Cloverdale Colts 6-1.
Player of the game Tanner Bueckert had a monster game on the Orange blueline while forward Seb Wenger led the offence with three assists as six different players supplied the goals to support the solid goaltending of Sam Knox and Caedon Bellman.
Chase Batchelor, Mac Gilchrist, Samuel White, Hawthorne, Evan Trottier and Braydie Allen-Webber scored for Interior Savings, who began the tournament Friday night with a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to the Kamloops Petes. The Petes scored the winning goal with two seconds left.
Hawthorne and Michael Pusey each had two goals for the Orange in the see-saw affair which saw both teams rally from two-goal deficits. Batchelor and Wenger also scored for Vernon while player of the game Trottier chipped in two helpers.
Early Saturday morning at Kal Tire Place, the Vees scored three late third period markers for a 7-4 win over the Orange.
Batchelor, Hawthorne, Pusey and Brogan Houston scored for Interior Savings with Callum Leong MVP.