Saturday, March 22, 2008

A banner week for Prince Rupert minor hockey

Prince Rupert Minor Hockey will be celebrating some pretty impressive success when they get around to their season ending banquet.

This week just past has featured a remarkable run of success for Prince Rupert’s minor hockey program, earlier in the week word spread quickly of the Rupert Bantam squad, the Wampler’s Seawolves coming home with a championship banner after knocking off Golden in overtime. Their success marks the first time that a Prince Rupert team has returned home from a provincial tournament with a banner.

And as things turned out there wouldn't be a very long wait for the second; Friday it was time for the midget team to share some of the good news; as the Prince Rupert Seawolves collected Midget honours with a 5-4 victory over the Beaver Valley Hawks on Thursday night.

It makes for a pretty impressive spring break for Prince Rupert’s hockey players and a fairly solid vote of confidence for the minor hockey program for the city.

The Daily News had details on the bantams win in Thursday’s paper, while the Northern View provided some of the details on the Midgets victory, including a picture of the victorious team with an online story posted on Friday.

The Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association website also celebrated the double victories with some pictures posted online.
Rupert hockey players celebrate big win
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Pages one and six

The Prince Rupert bantam A hockey team made history Wednesday night.

For the first time ever, a Rupert hockey team has won a provincial banner, and it was the Rupert bantam A Wamplers Seawolves that performed the deed, defeating Golden 4-3 in overtime in the provincial final in Mackenzie.

Team captain and defenceman Garrett Santurbano launched a shot in from the point 1:39 into the first overtime period, and the puck somehow found the back of the net, setting off one of the wildest Rupert hockey celebrations in the history of this town.

"We got the big goal from the big guy," said coach Dave Feser. "The puck came back to the point, and he just fired it at the net.

"And then everyone just sort of collapsed to the goal."

There was a large crowd in front, and the puck managed to creep behind the goalline. The Golden netminder tried to reach back and pull the puck back out, but it was too late - the red light was on, the referee was pointing at the net signifying goal, and the Rupert players erupted into elation, emptying the bench.

"A player right there said he saw it just cross the line," said Feser. "And then the place just erupted. I've never had a feeling quite like that in my life."

Not surprisingly, the celebration began, and at press time, it's probably still continuing.
"When that (goal) happened, I just saw sticks and gloves flying in the air, and we all went on the ice ... we were hugging, hollering ... and then they brought out that big blue banner, and it was something else."

Rupert went through the round robin a perfect 5-0, including a relatively easy 6-2 victory over Golden, but it was obvious from the drop of the puck that the final wasn't going to be easy.
"It was a very difficult game," said Feser. "And we knew it would be a tough game. They came out really intense."

But unlike earlier in the week when Golden had faded midway through the contest, the Rockies team wasn't going away on this night. After a scoreless draw after one period, Golden opened the scoring early in the second.

Rupert quickly responded, as Braeden Horcoff tied the game two minutes later.

But Golden once again took the lead midway through the second period, and were hanging on to the one-goal margin before Josh Kierce equalized with under three minutes remaining in the second stanza. That meant it was 2-2 heading into the final period.

"We thought that they would wear down like last time, but it didn't happen," said Feser.
Golden then retook the lead with seven minutes left in regulation time. But only 20 seconds later, Bryan Tates responded and the game was once again tied, this time at 3-3.
"It was a nice shot," said Feser.

But the turning point came in the final three minutes.

There had only been two minor penalties all game, but Rupert was called for interference with three minutes remaining. Golden used their timeout to discuss strategy, but it also helped Rupert regroup and prepare for the most important penalty kill of the season.

"It was coming down to the wire," said Feser. "And we killed that penalty. It was a huge kill for us."

Rupert escaped the penalty unscathed, including several saves from goaltender Tremaine Kurtka who according to Feser was excellent all game.

So the game went into overtime, but it was obvious that Rupert had the momentum.
Barely two minutes into the extra frame, and history had been made.

"It was something else," said Feser. "These guys really wanted this."

Rupert had won 7-2 over Fort St. James earlier in the day, so they ended up with a 6-0 record at the provincial tournament, including the all-important provincial banner.

The midget A team has a good chance to be in a provincial final as well tonight - for results on how they fared on Wednesday, see page 7.

Midgets and bantams are provincial champions
By Shaun Thomas - The Northern View - March 21, 2008

Prince Rupert players dominated on the ice this weekend, as both the bantam and midget rep teams took the provincial title in their respective divisions.

After finishing first in the round robin, the midget reps met up with the Beaver Valley Hawks on Thursday evening in the finals. The two teams played a strong game, but it would be the Seawolves who took the 5-4 victory to bring the title back to Prince Rupert.

On Wednesday after going 6-0 in the round robin tournament, the bantam team faced off against Golden in a game that require overtime to determine a winner. A few minutes into overtime, with traffic in front of the net, defenceman Garrett Santurbano put away the winning goal to give Prince Rupert Minor Hockey its very first provincial championship banner.

Look for full details from these games on the March 26 issue of The Northern View.

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