The 2011West Coast Elite Hockey Team went undefeated through six games to grab the gold medal at the prestigious 20th annual Challenge Cup hockey tournament in Vancouver on the May long weekend.
The team featured four Courtenay players – Logan Nijhoff, Jackson Dyke, Gabe Schovanek, and Mattias Smith – along with other talented 10- and 11-year-olds from Port McNeill, Powell River and Campbell River.
The round robin play proved to be no match for the West Coast team. Game one on Friday ended in a 9-1 win over the Vancouver Jets. On Saturday the West Coast team came out very strong and physical winning 5-1 against the Ravens and 11-0 against the Riggers from Calgary. They then continued their winning streak by defeating the Northshore Vipers 5-0 on Sunday.
After the round robin the West Coast Elite finished with an incredible 30 goals for and only two against. The team advanced to the semifinals first overall. It was very evident that all the hours of practice and training the boys and coaches had put in over the past few months had paid off, a team spokesperson noted.
The West Coast Elite finally met their match in the gold medal game when they faced off against the Seafair Icebreakers from Richmond. The West Coast starting the scoring halfway through the first perio. Not to be denied, the Icebreakers scored two minutes later to tie the game.
Both teams came out strong in the second, with the Icebreakers scoring again with only two minutes left in the period. After an ice clean and some firing up from the coaches, the West Coast Elite put the pressure on the Icebreakers, scoring nine minutes into the third.
Only 20 seconds later the battle-tested Icebreakers scored to regain their lead. Playing with heart and pure determination, the West Coast team battled hard to score with only two minutes left in the game to force overtime. The extra session did not last long as the West Coast Elite team forced a neutral zone turnover leading to the game-winning goal only 37 seconds into OT.
“These boys were successful because of their tireless work ethic,” said head coach Greg Fox. “We asked a lot of this team, and they gave everything, I am very proud of them.”
The West Coast Elite Hockey Team would like to thank their sponsors, Strategic and Schnitzer Steel Pacific.
– 2011 West Coast Elite Hockey Team