The Vernon Denny’s Ice Rockets bowed 2-1 to the Grand Forks Bruins in Sunday’s final of the Nakusp Atomic Hockey Tournament.
Pumping in a tournament-high 31 goals, the high-flying Rockets breezed through the preliminary round with three wins to finish atop Pool A.
The Rockets brushed back the North Okanagan White Knights 3-1 in the semifinals after bouncing the Bruins 5-2, icing the Salmon Arm Infernos 7-0 and blasting the Nakusp Falcons 15-2 in preliminary play.
The tandem of Nick Foufoulas and Teja Sheldrake allowed only seven goals in the five games, posting a sterling .931 save percentage.
The blueline corps of Robyn Alexis, Derek Pereboom, Quinn Soon, Levi Vanderdeen and the two Liams – Reid and Remple – all chipped in with points. The shutdown pairing of Bailey Alexis and Soon did not surrender a single goal.
The Ice Rockets outshot and out-chanced the hard-working Bruins, who somehow kept Vernon from filling it in the final.
Against the flow, Grand Forks popped the lone goal of the first. After a tense, scoreless second, the Ice Rockets finally broke through in the early stages of the third. Zack Funk pulled a draw back to Remple at the left point, and Remple’s low blast to the far side pulled Vernon even.
With the Rockets surging for the go-ahead goal, Vernon was tagged for too many men, and the Bruins seized the opportunity and netted the winner.
Reilly Teager, Ben Reinhardt, Shaun Huizinga. Reid and Zac Funk scored in the Rockets’ opening win over Grand Forks.
In Game 2 against Infernos, the line packing the most punch was that of Funk (hat trick), Maddex Minard (2+2) and Teager (1A).
Against Nakusp, all three lines produced monster games with the unit of Sapien Joe (hat trick), Huizinga (2+1) and Bradley Halvorson (1A) bombarding the net. The line of Ben Reinhardt (2 goals in 10 seconds), Chris Reinhardt (1A) and Alexis (1A) kept the heat on Nakusp.
In the semifinal, the Rockets knocked off the White Knights, who have dominated Vernon teams in the Super League this season.
Minard finished off a dazzling tic-tac-toe play, assisted by Teager and Funk for the first snipe. The Knights tied it up early in the third, and the game awaited its difference maker.
On the backcheck, Joe gathered the puck and pushed it up the ice. Racing to regain possession, Joe powered his way into the clear, and flipped in the winner on the glove side.
Two minutes later, Funk broke through and fired one in off the post for insurance.
The M&K Ready-Mix Demons also made the semifinals of the Atom Rec tournament, falling 4-3 to Grand Forks.
The Demons’ stellar work ethic and high scoring earned them first place in their pool.
Winger Brody Wright answered a Bruin goal by tucking in a wraparound. Kevin Morgan then went coast to coast shorthanded, putting the Demons up by one. The Bruins quickly answered before Shaelyn Cecchini and Jordyn Morris combined to feed Morgan.
The Demons were ahead by one before running out of gas in the third. Christopher Bond earned the Hear & Hustle award.
The M&K bunch started the tourney by crushing the Kaslo Winterhawks 10-1. Goals came from Ronan Bedard (2), Ryan Vandesande (2), Morris, Brady Horton, Cecchini, Bond, Ty Louis and Dawson Martian, Hustle award went to Cecchini.
In Game 2 the Demons toppled the Kamloops Oilers 6-1 on goals by Bedard (2), Martian, Cecchini, on a beauty from the point, and Louis. D-man Taylor Halloran took the Hustle honour.
The Demons tied the White Knights 2-2 with Morgan, converting a Nick Tilby feed, and Morgan going backhand, top shelf. Martian earned the Hustle award.