Two Hope and District Minor Hockey products have cracked the line-up on Chilliwack’s top peewee rep team, where they have helped them to a 7-4-2 win-loss-tie record in the first half of their AAA tier 2 season.
Defenseman Brandon Pennell and goaltender Dawson Pelletier put their skills up against a deep pool of hopefuls at the pre-season rep tryouts and were chosen for the top squad.
“This year we had somewhere around 80 players try out for the three rep teams,” said head coach Sean Wicker on Tuesday. “Each team carries nine forwards, six defense and two goalies, so competition for the spots on all three teams is fierce.
“It’s quite a compliment for a player and a family to make the top team within their association. Many of these players have put in countless hours away from the rink and during the spring and summer months to give themselves the best chance possible.
“I would like to thank the Hope Minor Hockey Association for doing a great job in developing their young players and then allowing them the opportunity to travel to Chilliwack to participate in the competitive stream,” added Wicker.
In addition to the first team placements, three HDMHA players made the third rep team. In fact, Sam Reynen and Connor Douglas of Agassiz/Harrison and Hope’s Seth Prawdzik got to show-up the top team at the Chilliwack Peewee Jamboree over the Christmas break.
While Pennell and Pelletier finished out of the medals, the third team won gold, with a perfect five wins and no losses in their division.
“It was the first win for a Chilliwack rep team at their own tournament since 1995,” said Brad Pelletier, Dawson’s dad.
Twelve-year-old Dawson had played for coach Wicker on Chilliwack’s second rep team last year.
“Dawson progressed well during the spring and summer and has formed a good goaltender tandem with Cory Richardson,” said Wicker. “He has good size and a good glove hand.”
Physical strength, size and skills improve so much in a year that first-year peewees are hard-pressed to make the top team. Wicker said 15 of the 17 players are second-year. That made it all the more impressive that Pennell was chosen as a first-year player last season.
“Brandon is a solid all around d-man, who brings his experience and leadership from last year to this year’s team,” said the coach. “He has been progressing very well this season and will be ready to make the big jump to bantam next year.”
Hockey Canada ruled out body checking in all levels from peewee and below, starting this season — but Pennell will be back into it in bantam.
This year, without the ability to body check, he says his biggest challenge is “probably stopping the guys when they’re rushing the net.
“I’m pretty good at passing and I’ve got a pretty good shot,” said Pennell, who turns 13 later this month. “I’ve played defense my whole life but last year I got to play forward for the last part of the season and I scored two goals.”
Pelletier has been a goalie since his Hockey 3 year, at age seven, encouraged by his coach Ric Hampton.
Since then, spring hockey and training in Abbotsford with Andy Nielson’s Next Level Goal Tending school has helped accelerate his development.
Home games for the Hope duo are usually on Mondays, 7:30 p.m. at Prospera Centre. Their schedule can be found under the peewee A1 tab on the CMHA website at cmha.goalline.ca