Wildcats faced tough competition at home tournament

Midget hockey team is battling through several injuries

Midget C forward Hayden Simon (right) is leaned on by a Surrey player in Sunday morning action during last weekend’s eight-team midget house tournament. The local team had its best result in the opening game

Well, at least their guests went home happy… with all of the hardware.

Hope’s midget C1 Wildcats hockey club started off with a 4-4 tie in the opening game of their home tournament last weekend but they ran up against some tough clubs — and a hot goalie — in their following three games.

Head coach, Rick Simon, said his team was up 2-0 after the first period against New Westminster on Friday night and they led 4-2 after two.

“Then the other team came back to tie us at 4-4 and we couldn’t break it,” said Simon. His son Hayden was chosen as the Wildcats’ player-of-the-game and Jacob Lucki (pronounced “Loose-key”) was the most-sportsmanlike.

“In our second game, against Langley, we came up against a really hot goalie,” said the coach. We out-played them and out-shot them but couldn’t score.”

Hope’s player-of-the-game honours in the 3-0 loss went to Seth Point and most-sportsmanlike, to Brandon Baboth.

Lucki was player-of-the-game for the Wildcats in a 6-3 loss to Kamloops in the third game and coach Simon was particularly impressed with Myron Peters, who was named as the most-sportsmanlike player.

“Myron was getting some extra attention from some of their players and he composed himself and did not retaliate.”

Peters continued on his roll in the final match, being named player-of-the-game in the Wildcats’ 8-2 loss to Surrey on Sunday morning. Chase Bestwick was the most-sporting of the Wildcats’ line-up.

Bestwick led the Wildcats with three goals on the weekend, while Simon and Peters each had two goals and two assists. Marshall Pennier contributed a goal and two helpers.

Delta took first place with a 7-1 win over Langley in Sunday’s championship match.

“We’re probably about a 500 team in league play,” said coach Simon. “We started the season pretty well but it’s gone down since then. We had two or three injuries and when you’ve already got a short bench, that doesn’t help.

“Our goalie, Alex Schwichtenberg, just came back from a broken collar bone. Chase Bestwick stepped in as his replacement and did a good job.”

Hope readers may have noted a number of unfamiliar names in this story. That’s because most of the team lives out of town.

“I’d say we’re probably two-thirds Agassiz-Harrison and one third Hope,” figured Simon, a Harrison Hot Springs resident who works as unit chief of the BC Ambulance station in Hope.

This is the third year of no body-checking in all levels of house or “C” hockey, said Simon. Leaning on a player or angling them against the boards in a low-impact way is still allowed.

“I think it’s a more coachable game now,” he contended. “It keeps them out of the penalty box and focuses more on speed and skill. It’s a game for all sizes and abilities. I know kids who have carried on into midget hockey who probably wouldn’t have if there was body-checking.”

Hope’s bantam C1 Wildcats host their eight-team tournament on the Jan. 21-23 weekend. The bantams are second out of 15 teams in the Fraser Valley East league, with one game (Wednesday after press time) to go before playoffs begin. They had a record of 18 wins, 2 losses and 3 ties before Wednesday’s game, said team manager Jesse James.