The North Zone Kings took three of four points from the league-leading Thompson Blazers of Kamloops as the Okanagan Tier 1 Bantam Hockey League regular season came to an end.
In the first game on Saturday, the Kings, backstopped by Mandi Feist stormed out to a 3-1 lead on goals by Matthew Johnston (assists by Jace Weir, Nolan Matthews), Caleb Dehood (assists by Nolan Thomas, Weir) and Austin Roest (assists by Deagan McMillan, Derek Teare) and were looking to be in control of the game with a dominating edge in play.
But the Blazers are in first for a reason.
A laser shot from Jordon Keller brought them back within one at 6:08 of the second period. A fluttering shot by Ezra Chan (assists by Layton Feist and McMillan) from the blue line hit the Blazers goalie in the mask and bounced into the goal. The breaks seemed to be going the Kings way in re-establishing a two goal lead at 17:40 of the third period, but a win wasn’t in the cards as Kamloops responded with two goals in the final 20 minutes as the game ended in a 4-4 tie. For the Kings, it felt like a loss after a dominating performance that saw only a few minor breakdowns leading to goals by the Blazers.
Riding these emotions into the second game of the weekend, the Kings were determined not to let it happen again – you could just see and feel the determination in the Kings in the pre-game warm up. It was a sign of things to come.
Backstopped by Kristi Vassberg, the Kings stormed out to a 6-1 lead halfway through the second period. Goal scorers were Roest, McMillan (3), Grayson Williamson and Teare. Assists were provided by Adam Bourgeois (3), Devon Jameson, Weir (2), Thomas, McMillan (2), Cosmo Wilson (2) and Teare.
Unfortunately, the ice clean dampened the Kings momentum.
After the break, and with a five-goal lead the intensity was lacking in the second half of the game. This lead to the Blazers scoring three unanswered goals and got Kings’ fans starting to squirm a bit in their seats. But the comeback was not to be as Williamson scored unassisted into the empty net to make the final 7-4.
While the win was a total team effort, special mention must be made of McMillan’s 5-point game. Clearly this ‘05 forward is going to be a special player in his second year of Bantam next season. His size, strength and determination should make him a top-round WHL draft next year.
Going into the playoffs, the Kings have been moving in the right direction, going 4-0-1 in their last five games. They take on the Central Zone Rockets of Kelowna in the first round of the playoffs. The best of three series starts next Friday.
TIER 2 BANTAM
The Sun Valley Source For Sports Vernon Vipers edged the visiting West Kelowna Warriors 5-4 Saturday evening at Kal Tire Place.
Ben Ramsey opened the scoring early in the first on pass from Erik Pastro. The Warriors pulled even midway through the first frame before Cash Anderson buried a power play tally from Nick Noren and Pastro to put the Vipers up 2-1 late in the first.
Brayden Schwaerzle added to the lead on a feed from Max Stewart early in the second, and it was Bennett Kuhnlein firing from close in from Schwaerzle for a 4-2 lead going into the third.
The Warriors pulled to within one early in the period before Pastro restored the two-goal lead with Ramsey and Tyler Burke picking up the assists. The Warriors responded with 10 minutes left making it 5-4 but Austin Seibel, who was strong in net throughout, shut the door and was crucial to the win, making several key stops including a couple of razor-sharp glove saves to seal the win.
TIER 3 PEE WEE
The Collard Financial Vipers had a great weekend with two big wins.
On Saturday, the Snakes knocked off the Kamloops Blazers 7-1. Kohen Molde was in net for the Vipers, facing 32 shots with Vernon firing 38 on the Kamloops netminder. Kohen Pounder led the team with two goals. The Vipers were 2-11 on the powerplay with Tage Nanji helping his cause with a powerplay marker and one assist. Logan Andrew had the other PP goal. Single goals came from Sam Levesque, Maddy Fick and Kai Maleniza. Assists went to Mark Johnson, Dylan Salling and Maleniza.
The Sunday matinee game was a big one as the current second place Kelowna Pee Wee A Female Rockets have yet to be shut down by the Vipers.
Riding high from their big win on Saturday, the Vipers beat the Rockets 3-1 in a very exciting game. Brayden Rypkema got the win, facing 25 shots from the Rockets. Vernon opened the scoring by Johnson, assisted by Maleniza. Oliver Murray scored in the second to make it 2-0 for the Snakes. The Rockets finally scored one in the latter parts of the second, before they got into some penalty trouble and Nanji pocketed a powerplay goal late in the second to seal the deal. Sam Levesque, Cole Gartner and Johnson picked up assists.
The Vipers have one more regular season game to go next weekend before playoffs start. They sit in fourth place but are only two points out of second in a very tight Tier 3 loop.
ATOM DEVELOPMENT C
Cohen Bailey stopped every Kamloops shot and his teammates backed him up with seven goals over the final two periods as the Vernon Valley Wood Remanufacturing Vipers blanked the Blazers 8-0 in Okanagan Hockey League action at the Priest Valley Arena.
Ryan Frick led the offence with two goals and two assists. Hudson Podollan and Asher Kuiken added two goals apiece while singles went to Tylen Lewis and Aaron Teichroeb.