Wildcats compete at home tournament

The C1 atom hockey team skated to a 5-and-0 record to take first place

Hope atom C1 forward Cole Kennedy scoots his shot under the stick of Chilliwack C2 goalie

Short rosters meant plenty of ice time for both Hope atom house teams — but one of them prevailed to take first place at Hope Minor Hockey’s first tournament of the season.

With the C1 and C2 Wildcats having only 10 or 11 skaters each, compared to the typical 14 or 15 of their opponents, the hosts barely had enough time to sit down before they were back on the ice.

“We had too may kids for just one team,” said tournament coordinator Lindsay Druet, “so they made two small teams.”

The two squads share the ice at practices, so they’re skating three or four times a week, including games. The cumulative rink time could pay off in strong skating and hockey skills in the post-Christmas stretch to the playoffs.

Druet said the visiting parents from the lower Fraser Valley were envious of the evening practice times available in Hope.

“They’re practicing at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning down there,” she said.

Hope C1 kicked off the tournament at 5 p.m. on Friday with an 8-1 win over Chilliwack C2. Mateo Nickel of Agassiz led the way with three goals and two assists, while netminder Caleb O’Handley shut the door after Chilliwack’s lone goal, late in the first period.

Hope C2 kept up the pace in the following game against Mission. Carter Anderson netted five of his 12 tournament goals in the 6-1 win. Goalie Nicholas Riemersma lost his shutout bid midway through the third frame.

Anderson netted another five in Saturday morning’s game versus Chilliwack C2 but they needed the extra goal by Garrett High to secure the 6-5 win.

C2 almost pulled off a late tie in their final game against Langley C8 but finished the tournament with a 2-and-2 record.

Nickel matched Anderson with a five-goal effort against North Delta and Josiah Tiessen’s two goals helped secure the 9-6 win.

Before a 5-2 win over Semiahmoo in their final round-robin game, Hope C1 had a tight match against Langley on Saturday afternoon. Nickel added another four goals to his total but it was fellow teammate Cole Kennedy who got the late goal to break the 5-5 tie.

“Logan had a nice goal in the last minute of the game,” said coach Roy O’Handley. “We beat Langley and met them again in the finals.

“That’s two years in a row that we made it the finals at the Hope tournament,” he added. “Last year, we lost to the other Hope team.”

Semiahmoo beat North Delta 4-2 in the consolation final.

In the championship match, neither team scored in the first period — then midway through the second, Cam Fossum passed to Nickel for his first of four goals. Langley could only muster two in the third period, giving Hope the win.

Druet said all of the visiting teams except Chilliwack chose to stay overnight — with some using the Coquihalla Campsite. She acknowledged the help of the atom parents in hosting the tournament, including the help from Bonnie Nickel in coordinating the weekend.

“We had 80 spots to fill, for the 50-50 draws, time-keeper, score sheet, food  and raffle table. Overall, we’ve got lots of supportive parents, who are very giving of their time.

“The program draw for the dirt scooter was a real hit,” she added. “Kids were going crazy, hoping to win it. Seth Prawdzik bought three programs at two bucks each just to make sure he won it. “

Hope Minor Hockey’s tournament director Paula Fossum is in charge of attracting teams to the local tournaments, then she hands off the hosting duties to the parents of the different age levels.

Fossum said she has three more eight-team tournaments totally booked, with the peewees next up, on the Nov. 29 weekend. The midgets follow on the Jan. 10 weekend and the bantams host theirs at the end of January.

“We’re planning a Hockey 2 tournament for the end of February and a Hockey 3 in the beginning of March,” she added.