The Plateau Plumbing and Heating Bantam Flyers showed that in sports, timing is everything. Heading into the Bantam League Playoffs with a less than stellar 9-14 record through the regular season, there was no reason to expect anything more than some fun and an early exit from the competition.
However, it appeared the Flyers had saved something up for the end of the season because as the playoffs began, so did the winning. Some games were very close and had the parents on their feet screaming for the clock to go faster, but the Flyers prevailed with a miraculous run through the playoffs, finishing with a 5-1 record and the league championship.
Next up for the Flyers was the 12-team Bantam C Tournament with squads visiting from up and down the Island. Most parents were probably thinking that the team should enjoy their recent success, but it was unlikely to continue.
Apparently the players felt differently, because a strong and balanced team from Victoria was the first to meet the suddenly clicking Flyers, and an 11-1 victory for the home team was only a sign of things to come. Next was a Port Hardy team that fell 6-3 to the boys and girls in orange. Early Sunday morning the Flyers met a determined Nanaimo team that fought hard but became the next victim of the Flyers juggernaut, losing by three goals.
A 3-0 record at this point of the tournament meant a chance at playing for the championship, but first the Flyers had to go through a Port McNeill team that they had lost to earlier in the year.
Port McNeill had size, speed, and good goaltending on their side, but the air-tight defence of the Flyers led by Nick Oyakawa, Ben Coats and Katie Shultz limited their chances, and whatever shots did squeak through were quickly smothered by goalie Quinn Fogtmann. Timely goals by Manny Donovan, Brendan Adey, Bryce Berg-Stromquist and Liam Janzen put the Flyers ahead for good. Final score: 6-3 for the Flyers.
The next stop was the tournament final where the Flyers met crosstown rivals, the Courtenay Motorsport Rednecks. This final game of the tournament was also the final game of the season for both local teams. The Flyers had reason be worried. Although they had defeated the Rednecks in their last meeting, it had been by a razor’s edge, and everyone knew the Rednecks had been the league’s best team, losing only four games all year. Furthermore, this would be the Flyers third game of the day, while as the top team in the tournament, the Rednecks had a bye into the finals and had played only once.
However, in a classic Cinderella finish, the Flyers reached deep down and found they had a little more to give. The speedy line of Grayson Scott and James Turner kept the Rednecks on the defensive, and hard-nosed work along the boards by Cam Downey and Brendan Russell kept puck out of the Flyer’s end.
Three goals from team captain Liam Janzen, two from Manny Donovan, and one from Bryce Berg-Stromquist, along with clutch goaltending from Damon Wilson were enough for a storybook ending for the Flyers. However, the best part was that two local teams played a fun and clean game with plenty of good friends on both sides of the ice.
“Thanks to our sponsor Plateau Plumbing and Heating, coaches Wayne Downey, Jamie Oyakawa, and Ron Shultz, and team manager Rae Lynn Downey, for all their hard work and a great season of hockey,” a team spokesperson said.
– Plateau Plumbing and Heating Bantam Flyers