The Hope peewee Wildcats started off with an exciting win at their home tournament last weekend.
The opening game at 5 p.m. on Friday, versus Cloverdale, was a seesaw battle, tied at 1-1 after the first period.
The visitors got the lone goal in the second frame, “Then we opened the floodgates,” said head coach Lui Talarico.
Jarren Payant converted a Brady Loring pass to tie it with about nine minutes to go in the game, then Jake Meijer popped in another shortly after.
“As soon as we scored that third goal, Cloverdale really got down on themselves,” said Talarico, a coach and referee for most of the past 20 years.
The visitors were allowing way too much time and free space in their defensive end and the Wildcats took full advantage.
James Connor knocked in the next two and Bogdan Kostebelov closed out the scoring, with his second of the match — capping off a five-goal run for the Wildcats.
Unfortunately, they picked up their fifth penalty in the dying seconds, which negated their sportsmanship point.
“We were in trouble with dumb penalties through the whole tournament,” said the coach. “You’re allowed eight minutes in penalties. After that, you lose your sportsmanship point. We only got the extra point in two of our four games.
Even in a loss, a team that stays out of the penalty box can gain an extra point — and that could be crucial in tie-breakers to determine the teams that go on to the finals.
“We usually only get two or three penalties a game,” added Talarico.
James Connor and Blake Visser led the way with two goals each in a crazy game versus Surrey C6 on Saturday morning. In total, 19 shots got past the goalies.
“We got up 6-2 in the second period, then Surrey came back and won 11-8,” said Talarico, whose son Mike is an assistant coach on the team.
Saturday afternoon, Payant produced two goals and an assist against Semiahmoo C2 but the Wildcats let their 3-2 lead slip away with only five minutes left in the game.
The tie and too many penalties meant they had no chance of making the final four match-ups and their last game was a 6-1 loss to the eventual tournament winners, Richmond C2. Tyson Goglin scored the lone Hope goal in the first period.
“The other teams said it was a great tournament,” said coordinator, Joanne Biltzan. “We had some returning coaches from last year, who said they like coming to Hope for our tournaments because we put on a good one. There were lots of compliments about the raffle baskets and how great they looked.
“Everything ran smoothly. All played hard and had fun,” said Biltzan.
Next up for Hope and District Minor Hockey is the midget tournament on the Jan. 10 weekend.