Fraser Valley Thunderbirds hockey team is off to Kelowna to play the Okanagan Rockets in the B.C. Minor Midget League finals.
A mix of players from Langley, Aldergrove, Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack and Hope, the team won the right to make the trip by beating the Cariboo Cougars in a hard-fought series over the weekend that saw the second-seeded Thunderbirds prevail over the third-seeded Cougars, with two of the games decided in overtime.
Head coach Travis Oddy anticipated a hard fight based on the two previous encounters with the Cariboo team this season, and the rival players did not disappoint.
Game one on Friday (March 8) went to the Cougars, but they had to work for it, claiming a 5-4 victory in overtime.
Game two went into double overtime before the Thunderbirds took their 3-2 win.
“Literally, one goal can end our season [in that situation],” Oddy said.
“Luckily, we were the ones to score that goal.”
By game three, Thunderbird players could sense victory was near, the coach said.
“There was a different energy in the room,” Oddy said.
“Our guys felt like they were in control.
They were indeed, winning 4-1.
— Minor Midget Thunderbirds (@mmThunderbirds) March 11, 2019
Oddy believes the series against number one seeded Okanagan Rockets is going to be a close one, but the Kelowna players can be beaten.
Thunderbirds have already proven it this season, he said.
“We’ve met them (Kelowna) once before in a three game series and we took the series. Both games that we won were one-goal games.
“Basically, what we’re expecting is a tight series and games. It could be a goal either way [that make a difference].”
All the championship games will be played in Kelowna, the top seed in the league.
On Saturday (March 16), game one goes at the Rutland East arena at 1 p.m., game two is Sunday (March 17) at Rutland, 3:15 p.m. and, if needed, game three will be Monday (March 18) at the Capital News Centre at 1:15 p.m.