Hope Minor Hockey teams had great success last weekend, with the bantam C1 squad winning their eight-team home tournament and the midget Cs winning a 12-team event in Kamloops.
Hope had two entries in the bantam tournament, with the C2 team finishing fifth. The C1s went 5-and-0 on the weekend — but they didn’t choose an easy path in the opening game versus Langley on Friday.
Penalty troubles helped them get behind 5-3, late in the game. Goalie Matt Irwin stood tall against a barrage of Langley shots, knowing that one more goal for the visitors could have made a deficit too big overcome.
Then the tide turned.
Hope got it to 5-4 with about three minutes to go, then tied it up — and Langley started a parade to the penalty box.
A Langley player then rushed in and scored just as the whistle blew… but the referee had called a holding infraction against Langley, so the goal did not count.
With 34 seconds left, Hayden Simon completed a hat-trick, putting the Wildcats ahead 6-5.
Langley then pulled their goalie for an extra attacker — though they were short-handed because of a penalty — and they pounded a few desperate shots at Irwin, who found a way to stop them.
When time elapsed, the Wildcats stormed their netminder, who was given the player-of-the-game honours.
Darryl Inancsi, who has been co-coaching the team for the last 10 years, was unable to be behind the bench due to recent knee surgery. He was in the stands, though, and he liked what he saw over the weekend.
“It was good to see the players coming together as a team,” he said on Monday. “There’s a core group of about six that we’ve been coaching for the last ten years — but we’ve had some new players join this year, who have never skated or played hockey before.
“We’ve been working on getting the players to think and move the puck and all of a sudden, it just clicked this weekend. We’ve never won the Hope tournament before.
“In that first game, when we got behind: in the past, that team would have crumbled when they got down like that. This year, though, they’ve been able to come back.”
The team had a tight first period in their second game, against Aldergrove. Ahead 3-2 after the first frame, Hope took it 7-4, with two-goal efforts by Simon and Jarek Inancsi.
Surrey was ahead 2-1 after one frame in game 3 but Inancsi’s two goals helped pace the Wildcats to a 4-2 win.
With a 3-and-0 record going in to game 4, coach Rick Simon said goaltender Irwin had to come up with another big effort in a tight game. Zane Elliot scored twice for Hope and the defensive core of Jacob Lucki, Millar Fredrickson, Jarek Inancsi and Dimitri John helped seal the 3-1 win.
Surrey was the next-best team in the tournament standings, so they got to face Hope again in the championship final on Sunday afternoon.
Surrey was awarded the most sportsmanlike team trophy.
“They had only 22 penalty minutes after four games,” said Michelle Inancsi, who helped run the event. “Teams were given a sportsmanship point if they got 10 penalty minutes or less in a game.”
Irwin allowed only one goal against in the final, while Zane Elliott, Hayden Simon, Chase Bestwick, Jacob Lucki, Jarek Inancsi helped make it 5-1 for Hope.
“The team played great this weekend, with games as early as 7 a.m.,” said coach Simon. “We were well-deserving of the first place title. They really came together and played as a team to win in their home town.”
Teams chose player-of-the-game and most-sportsmanlike player for each game. A complete list was not available for the C1s but the C2’s players-of-the-games were: Brett Mayr, Warren McIntyre, Brandon Price and Tyler Krossenger. Their most sportsmanlike players were Demay Nickel, Tyrone Giroux, Shawn Larson and Mackenzie Peters.
The final two minor hockey tournaments at the Hope rink are Hockey 2 on Feb. 22-24 and Hockey 4 on March 8-10.