The Fraser Valley Thunderbirds are off to Calgary on Dec. 25 for the prestigious Mac’s Midget AAA hockey tournament. Submitted photo

Fraser Valley squad spreading its wings, heading to prestigious Calgary hockey tournament

Thunderbirds major midget hockey team enter elite tournament with just one loss in past 11 games

The Fraser Valley Thunderbirds faced a must-win game.

The Thunderbirds — with a depleted line-up and with just one point in their past five games — were sitting in sixth place in the BC Major Midget Hockey League and the cut-off was approaching to see which five teams from the league would earn invitations to the prestigious Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament in Calgary.

The team responded with a huge 7-2 road victory in Prince George against the Cariboo Cougars, who at that point were sitting in first place. And since then, the Thunderbirds have gone 10-1 to climb into third place in the league at 16-6-1-1.

“That (victory) was a big turning point,” said Fraser Valley first-year head coach Peter Hay.

“At the end of the day, it was one of those things where we went through that adversity and then bounced back.”

This marks the first-time in the Thunderbirds’ 13-year history that the team has been invited to the Mac’s tournament.

This marks the 40th year of the tournament with 33 teams hitting the ice in both the male and female divisions. As well as teams from North America, there are also entries from Belarus and Hungary.

Qualifying for the competition was one of Hay’s pre-season goals for the squad as he knew they had the talent.

“But you never know how it is all going to connect when you have multiple parts, with team chemistry and everything,” he said. “I think our team is really coming into a whole other level right now.”

The Thunderbirds — made up of players from Langley, Aldergrove, Maple Ridge, Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Hope — boast two of the league’s top scorers as Gage Goncalves (Mission) is third with 17 goals and 47 points in 24 games while Justin Plett (Abbotsford) is eighth with 21 goals and 34 points in 22 games.

Fraser Valley boasts strong offensive depth as they average 4.7 goals per game.

In addition to Goncalves and Plett, the team’s offence has been buoyed by recent addition Matthew Konrad (Abbotsford). In eight games, he has nine goals and 19 points.

The goaltending has also been strong, allowing 3.1 goals per game. That’s even more impressive when considering the team is primarily going with Dawson Pelletier (Hope) who has played 17 of the 25 games with his goaltending partner Alex Rolfe (Langley) on the shelf with injury.

Defensively, Will Dow-Kenny (Abbotsford) is averaging a point per game on the blue-line with four goals and 16 assists, and the addition of Travis Halladay (Chilliwack) has helped solidify the position. The six-foot-two, 220-pounder had played in nine games with the Langley Rivermen.

The team is coming off back-to-back victories over the weekend, 6-3 and 6-1 over the Vancouver Northwest Giants, which stretched Fraser Valley’s winning streak to six games. The team resumes league play on Jan. 12.

They fly to Calgary on Christmas Day and the tournament begins Dec. 26.

“For us to have the option to go to a world renowned tournament is a huge, huge step in the right direction for this program and for these kids,” Hay said about playing in such a heavily-scouted event.

“It opens a lot of doors for our kids with the opportunity to be seen by these scouts and maybe get an opportunity to play junior A in Alberta or Saskatchewan if BC Hockey or Western Hockey doesn’t work for them.”

“(And) talking to other teams that have had the experience, they all are saying this Mac’s experience actually gives them that jump start into the next half of the season.”



sports@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Mission’s Gage Goncalves — the BC Major Midget Hockey League player of the month for November — leads the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds with 47 points in 24 games. Trent Rolfe photo

Langley’s Jacob Wright has played 17 games with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds an an affiliate player, registering four goals and eight points. Trent Rolfe photo

Langley’s Matthew Tyszka mans the blue-line for the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds. Trent Rolfe photo

In 21 games this season, Langley’s Carter Anderson sits third on the team with nine goals in 21 games. Trent Rolfe photo

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

John Morrow photo
Barn catches fire near Abbotsford airport

Fire closes Mt. Lehman Road between Marshall Road and Abbotsford International Airport

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Most Read