The Vernon DCT Chambers Marauders rolled out of Kelowna with the bronze medal from the 14-team Christmas Classic Bantam house hockey tournament.
George Agar’s trucking crew went 3-1 in the round-robin, then defeated the Kelowna Blackhawks 4-2 Sunday afternoon at the Rutland Arena in the battle for third place.
Landon Currie scored twice in the opening period, including a goal with 40 seconds left in the frame, to give the Marauders a 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks replied early in the second before Cole Martin restored the two-goal edge with a breakaway marker.
Cam MacKenzie added the other goal for the truckers, who watched goalies Sam Knox and Noah Foufoulas – each coming off back-to-back game MVP performances – combine to make 34 saves as the Blackhawks outshot the Marauders 36-28.
Defenceman Gaman Nijjar, who was a force on the blueline all weekend, was named the Marauders’ game MVP.
“Everybody played great this weekend,” said Agar, helped out on the bench by assistant Clint Nyberg and the nifty general managing of Tammy Martin and Dan Currie. “We had to move some kids around into different positions and everybody responded. Our goaltending was very good, we did well taking care of things in our own end and our big scorers came through with a lot of clutch goals.”
After opening with victories over the Kelowna Canucks and Kelowna Stars, the Marauders faced a third consecutive Kelowna house league opponent, falling 5-4 to the Bruins Saturday afternoon at Rutland Arena.
Martin gave Vernon a 1-0 first-period lead less than two minutes in, and the goal stood up until midway through the second period, when the Bruins erupted for three goals 46 seconds apart.
Kelowna added one more to take a 4-1 lead into the final period, where the truckers came alive.
Sam Frisby and Currie scored 20 seconds apart to pull Vernon to within one, and Finn O’Keefe tied it with an electrifying shorthanded breakaway goal with 3:34 left. O’Keefe intercepted a pass at his own blueline and went in all alone on the goalie, deking him out brilliantly before depositing the puck into the open net.
The Bruins, however, got the winner on a scramble in front of Foufoulas with 2:16 remaining.
Foufoulas was outstanding all game and was chosen MVP.
Vernon wrapped up the round-robin at 7 a.m. Sunday at Kelowna Memorial Arena by blanking the Langley Warriors 5-0 behind the shutout goaltending of Knox, who collected MVP honours.
Currie had two goals in the second period, and O’Keefe added a deuce in the third after Martin opened the scoring in the first period.