This past Mother’s day weekend the Abbotsford Golden Knights hosted the 2019 Golden Cup Tournament featuring teams from in and around the lower mainland.
The West Coast Wolves had hosted the Knights on the Island in Mid April along with a number of other mainland teams. Although the games were competitive the Wolves came up short in both matches and blowing a 3 goal lead in the second game.
The 05 West Coast Wolves are made up from players from all over the Island, the players all range from Tier 1 to Tier 4 including the teams heart and soul, female player Keaira Hall and even a pair of 06 born players.
The formula is simple, provide a place for players interested in learning and competing in a place where mistakes are encouraged, creativity is fostered and fun and comradery are first and foremost. We don’t focus on wins and loses, we run 100% equal ice and opportunity and we ask our players to drive themselves to be better not only on the ice but off as well.
This tournament is the first of 2 the Wolves will attend this season plus a handful of exhibition games around the Island. The first game of the tournament was Friday night vs the host Knights, the Wolves and Knights battled hard and in the the Wolves fell to the Knights again in a 5-3 loss, Keaira hall took a massive elbow in the first shift of the game suffering a deep cut to the bridge of her nose that required some repairs but once she was patched up she returned to the game. The Wolves starting goalie Cooper Douglas was credited with well over 40 saves in the game, but the slick and excellent puck moving Golden Knights just wouldn’t be stopped.
Game 2 the Wolves faced the Krypto-Knights, a team made up from kids from all over the Lower mainland that travels through out Canada and the US.The Krypto-knights had won their first game 10-2 vs The lower mainland Monarchs. The game was played at the Abbotsford Recreation Center on Olympic sized ice. Again Cooper Douglas stood on his head making 20 or more saves in the first half of the first period as the Krypto-knights swarmed the Wolves early, but then the Wolves came alive. 06 born superstar Keane Taylor buried 2 chances on the same shift to stun the Kryto-knights and the Wolves never looked back, the Wolves pursed the puck and dominated the play with speed and power crushing the Tournament favorite 7-2 with goals from through the line up including 2 beautiful silky break away goals by Mathieu Ouellette assisted by Robert Christenson and Riley Steer. The Krypto-Knights had hit a few posts in the game and they were amendment that they had been robbed a few goals in the game.
Game 3 the Wolves faced the lower mainland Monarchs. The Monarchs had been beat badly the night before by the Krypto-knights and they were coming for revenge, the Wolves meanwhile had just dominated the tournament favorites and were feeling pretty confident going into Game 3. Predictably the Monarchs scored first ,setting the tone with some big hits and crashing the net with authority.The Wolves were rattled and struggled to catch up to the pace and power of the larger and stronger Monarchs, slowly however the Wolves managed to break down the Monarchs and keep the game with in striking distance however the couldn’t find their legs in the second half of the game and dropped the match 5-4 in the end. However in the loss there were a few silver linings, the team battled through tired legs, they used team work and moved the puck well to get themselves back within a goal it was a hard fought game from the onset and it seemed to bring the team closer together in the end.
The following day was the semi finals.
With the loss the Golden knights and the Monarchs , Wolves found themselves in 4th place, whitch pitted them against the 1st place Krypto-knights for a rematch to determine who would play for Gold or Bronze in the Finals.
The Krypto-knights still believed they had been robbed in the first match up and wanted to prove they deserved a better fate, while the Wolves who had been in tight games almost all year long knew they could go all in and be the upset team. It was a complete war, the two teams went back and fourth on the scoreboard and to the penalty box, big hits, highlight reel goals and tempers flying. The Wolves opened the scoring but each time the Krypto-knights answered back in spite of brilliant goal tending at both ends, finally on a power play goal the Krypto-knights took their first lead and added another to make the game 4-2.
The Wolves managed to squeek in their 3rd goal only to have the K-knights score again on the PP. However late in the 3rd, Keaira Hall took a pass at the point and walked in to make it 5-4 k-knights, with 58 seconds to go the Wolves called time out. The message was clear, this is why we play the game. For these moments, this is what makes Hockey great.. this is what every kid wants to do.
Enjoy the moment, 33 second to go the Wolves crash the net, Rees Aebischer lets go a blazing wrist shot that’s stopped by the goalie, Ty Barrie picks up the rebound and slides it over to Ben Stocks who is stopped by an amazing acrobatic save by the K-knights tender but Rees would not be denied a second time tying the game with seconds to go to send the game to a five minute 3 on 3.
The 3 on 3 was a blistering pace of hockey each team putting on a display of speed and control and each teams goalie showing their skill and determination,nothing being solved in the 3 on 3 the game went to a shoot-out.
Shooting for the Wolves in order was Mathieu Ouellette , Ty Barrie, Rees Aebischer, Dayton Vanderpeear.
Mathieu is a true and pure goal scorer in close and deeked the k-knights goalie right out of his net only to hit the base of the post.
The first shooter for the k-knights also came down and hit the crossbar but it stayed out.
Ty Barrie who is also a gem when it comes to patience and hands around the net also pulled the goalie out of his shorts but the goalie made a tremendous paddle save.
The next shooter for the k-knights came down was stopped handily by Cooper Douglas,
Rees Aebischer was up next and snipped a goal stick side to take the lead in the shoot out and the k-knights shooter answered right back with a snipe of his own on the Wolves net to knot things up yet again, but then Dayton Vanderpeear streaked into the k-knights zone and fired an absolute laser beam under the arm of the goalie to give lead back to the Wolves and the pressure was all on Cooper once again.
This time Cooper made a terrific save to send the Wolves to the Gold medal final.
Amazing team work, a game that every player on the team played a roll in and had a hand in, a game that will not be forgotten for many in this lifetime.
The 4th place Wolves were playing against the Host Golden Knights, the undefeated host for Gold that afternoon. The Gold medal game was the icing on the cake after the battle with the K-knights. The team went back for a team lunch, regrouped at the rink for the game and settled down. They were told we didn’t come here to win a medal, we came here to succeed, as a team and now we had the chance to make it happen.
The mood was tense, these 2 teams had played 3 times this season and there was a score to settle or many of them. The Wolves opened the scoring with tip by Carter Banman of Campbell River and then scoring again with some great forechecking by Ben Stocks who dug out a back down low and skated around the back of the net to dish the puck to a wide open Aebischer in front.
The Wolves never looked back, crushing the the Golden knights 7-2, with dominating performances by every single Wolves player. They overcame injuries, they overcame penalties and they came together to put on a game that will go down in the journals of youth sports for many years to come.
They did it as a team, with fair play, equal ice time, no coaches yelling and ego’s, just an excellent group of kids playing together for the right reason.
Simply…They Played For The Love Of The Game.