The Hope midget C Wildcats got off to a booming start at their home tournament last weekend — but the parade to the penalty box kept them from being in the final four of the eight-team tourney.
In Friday’s opening game against the Aldergrove Bruins, Zach Fletcher turned aside all but one Aldergrove shot, helping Hope to a 6-1 victory.
Branden Ottesen led the way with two goals, while Steven Misumi and Tommy Hrynkiw each contributed two assists, in the rough-and-tumble match that foreshadowed the Vancouver Canucks versus the Boston Bruins collision that would follow on Saturday.
On-ice officials may have been conservative in their assessing 46 minutes in penalties to the Wildcats and 58 to the Bruins – most of them in the final period, where a Bruin cross-check from behind precipitated a couple of fights.
Two players from each team were given a one-game suspension for the late-game tussles, as per Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association guidelines.
To encourage clean play, Hope Minor Hockey slaps a 2-for-1 on any PCMHA rulings, so the Hope pugilists had to miss the next two games.
“The kids from the Aldergrove team only had to sit out one game,” said Wildcats head coach Barry Leon, “but those are our rules and our kids know that.”
Leon has been coaching in Hope since his son Brayden was five years old, and this is Brayden’s final year in minor hockey.
Speaking of his team’s 1-2-1 record at the tournament, Leon said, “The boys were just too excited and couldn’t stay out of the penalty box.
“It was a well-run tournament, though. It’s a lot of work hosting a tournament and I thought the volunteers did a great job.”
The local boys cut their penalty time in half in the second game, versus North Delta. The Wildcats were behind in the score for most of the game but they kept North Delta in their sights and clawed back to a 5-6 loss. Misumi had a goal and an assist and Steven Hudson had a goal and two assists.
Game three had a much gentler tone, with Semiahmoo only collecting six minutes in penalties, to Hope’s 14. The visitors got a goal in the first period, then it stayed 1-0 until five minutes into the final frame, when Semiahmoo opened up for three mores goals and Hope had no response.
In their final match, Hope let the Langley Jets take the lead – then worked their way back to a 6-6 tie. Japanese exchange student Ryosuke Kobiashi exploded for three goals for Hope, while Misumi added a goal and three helpers to his total.
Surrey Penguins took home top honours, followed by the Woodland Critters, Langley and Semiahmoo.
Wildcats’ manager Rina Piovesan said, “Although Hope did not make it to the finals, the tournament went well. A big thank you to the guys at the Hope Arena for keeping it looking so good. We had many compliments on our new change rooms and the excellent food at the concession.
“Being the manager of this team, I personally want to thank every player, coach, official, parent and participant for a great weekend.”
The puck doesn’t stop there. This coming weekend, the atom rep team is hosting an eight-team international tourney, with one team flying in from Whitehorse, Yukon.
“They’ll be flying into Vancouver,” said tournament director Terri Pennell. “Their coach said they’ve gone to Alberta before and they wanted to try something new.
“We’ve also got the Tri-City Squirts coming [from Kennewick, Washington] and the Seattle Junior Admirals, Chase, North Delta, the Vancouver T-Birds and the North Vancouver Storm.”
Team manager Jesse James said, “We play Whitehorse in the opening game at 5 p.m. on Friday, then the Seattle team on Saturday morning at 8:30. We played them in the Abbotsford tournament at Christmas but we haven’t played any of the other teams in our round-robin. We play the T-Birds on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 and the North Vancouver Storm at seven in the morning on Sunday.
“The top four teams get a play-off game,” added James. “The consolation final is at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday and the championship is at 2:45.”
Local hockey fans are encouraged to come out and cheer on the Wildcats.
Hope’s only rep team has tiered at the fourth flight and they have a record of three wins, five losses and four ties in league play.