Home ice triumph for juvenile champs

An underdog Chilliwack squad rolled through six provincial games with just one loss to claim provincial gold last weekend.

Brookland Pyne sniped the overtime winner Sunday night as Chilliwack claimed a provincial title.

O’Hara’s Chilliwack Minor Hockey juvenile A1 squad faced Langley in the title game, rallying from two goals down to win 4-3.

Chilliwack trailed 3-1 in the final minute of the second period when Zach Campbell scored to give them life.

Shane Penner and Kevin Werner also scored regulation time goals as Chilliwack forced the game to OT, setting the stage for Pyne’s heroics.

Joey O’Hara fed a pass to Pyne on the right wing wall, and he hammered the puck past the Langley keeper for the win.

“This is the best thing they could do, ending their minor hockey career as champions,” said coach Jason Rhodes, referring to his graduating 1994-born players. “Taking a bunch of (1994 to 1997 born) house and rep players, mixing them up and winning, that’s what it’s all about.”

Chilliwack was ranked as a tier-two squad heading into the year-end tournament, facing a field of tier-one teams.

They had extra motivation of a tragic sort.

“Morgan Peters was a friend to a lot of kids on this team,” Rhodes said of the 18 year old hockey player who died last week in a car accident in Hope. “We had patches on our jerseys and all the guys were saying, ‘We need to win this. We need to win this.’”

They started strong, doubling Langley 6-3 in  the opener.

They beat Coquitlam 7-5 and North Delta 5-3 before hitting their only stumbling block. A 6-4 loss to Coquitlam threatened to derail the locals, but they quickly got back on track with a 3-1 win over Juan de Fuca.

Veteran goalie Cole Rose got the start in the gold medal game and struggled early, giving up two quick goals.

Rhodes briefly considered pulling him, but opted to leave him in.

Rose thanked him by locking things down, making key stops to keep his team alive.

Chilliwack had injuries to overcome, with two regulars sidelined, replaced by affiliate players Chris Kooyman and Arron Burchart.

Brandon Gibbard required stitches after hurting his elbow in the first game against Langley.

The elbow was too inflamed for him to play in the gold medal match.

Marshall Anderson was also sidelined (dislocated shoulder), and several of his teammates played through pain.

“We told them before the game that it was their turn to shine, and they went out and battled hard,” Rhodes said. “There was just a good attitude on and off the ice with this group, and that’s what makes a hockey team. I’m very proud of them.”

Others on the team include; Kevin Kooyman, Dustin Adamson, Brandon D’Angelo, John Golubic, Macaulay Mowbray, Austin Prest, Brawnson Pyne, Austin Rhodes, Andrew Unruh, Michael Younie and Shaemus Wickham.