Chilliwack’s 57th annual Peewee Jamboree tournament starts Boxing Day.
Find a full round-robin schedule in the Dec. 24 Chilliwack Progress sports section or online at chilliwackminorhockey.com
Chilliwack’s peewee A1 Bruins started their journey to the 57th annual Peewee Jamboree tournament like any other local rep team.
Tryouts and selections in September.
Practices, exhibition games and tournaments in October and November.
Wins and losses.
Heartbreak and elation.
But the most memorable moment on their path to the Jamboree has very little to do with hockey.
It involves a cloudy day in Penticton in mid-November and the search for a gigantic peach.
The Bruins travelled to the Okanagan for a tournament in mid-November, and coaches Jason Hay, Bryan Gourlie and Clarke Wismer saw a chance to do a team-building exercise.
The boys gathered at Doc’s Golf Center to hit a bucket of balls, then took off around town on an epic scavenger hunt.
The giant peach does exist on the Okanagan Lake waterfront, as does an old paddle-wheeler boat (the S.S. Sicamous) that’s been turned into a restaurant.
They were on the 28 item list along with some other items. Here is a random sampling of what the boys had to find or do.
– Take a picture of someone from your team helping someone pump their gas.
– One point for every business card collected.
– Take a group photo on a couch.
– 10 points if you get a photo with a police officer in uniform.
– Collect coasters from restaurants (one point for every different coaster collected).
“All the credit goes to Krista Christiuk,” said Hay. “She worked countless hours and called businesses prior to arriving in Penticton to make sure it was a successful event.”
Seventeen players, separated into smaller groups, ran all over Penticton that day. Derek Priest and Greye Rampton were part of one four-man team that dominated.
“Our team got the most points and we won mini hockey sticks,” Rampton said proudly.
“We got to go to Tim Hortons and get free donuts!” Priest added.
One of the items suggested going to the Buick GMC dealership to get a shot of a car in the showroom.
“We walked in and I asked the guy if we could take a picture beside the red Corvette, and he said, ‘Yeah,”” Rampton grinned. “That was pretty cool!”
“The giant peach and the paddle-wheel boat were cool, but that red car was my favourite part of the scavenger hunt,” Priest said. “That was sick!”
It is these boys who carry the hopes of the city into this year’s Peewee Jamboree. A Chilliwack team hasn’t won gold at the top level of its own tournament in nearly three decades.
If Rampton and Priest and their Bruin teammates prevail this year, they may look to the scavenger hunt as the moment where 17 kids turned into a team.
“You have to work together to find all the stuff and it makes your team better as a group,” Rampton said.
“I think the coaches did it to bring us closer together and have some fun as a team before the games,” Priest noted. “Just hanging out, not at the rink and not playing hockey. I think that’s why the coach did it.”
Talking to Priest and Rampton before a Wednesday night practice at Twin Rinks, it’s clear this Bruins crew is a tight-knit group.
The boys describe each of their teammates as friendly and hard working.
Some of them are quiet and some are loud.
Some are funny and some are intense, but they all seem to fit together as pieces of a puzzle.
Goalies Cole Mayes and Brayden Melynk are the backbone of the Bruins and their teammates feel comfortable with either between the pipes. They are protected by a defensive corps led by captain Dylan Brooks.
He skates alongside fellow blueliners Carter Anderson, Lucas Bourdon, Finn Longhurst, Mitchell Metcalfe and Luke Wismer.
Owen Hopcott leads the team in goals and assistant captain Clay Kurtz also racks up a lot of points.
“I don’t think he’ll like me saying this, but he misses the net a lot on breakaways,” Rampton laughed. “But he is fast and really skilled and I like him because he’s nice to everyone.”
Christian Clease, the team’s fastest skater, flies up and down the wing and battling on the boards.
He’s joined up front by centerman and faceoff specialist Lyndon ‘Shredder’ Schroeder and forwards Ryder O’Brien, KC Cosgrove, Landen Gourlie, Rampton and Priest.
If the team has a flaw to overcome heading into the Jamboree, it is finish. The team generates lots of chances, but often fails to capitalize.
“I’d say we need to score a few more goals,” Priest observed.
“We play hard as a team but we don’t bury all of our chances,” Rampton echoed.
From the very start of the year, head coach Hay made it the team’s goal to win the Jamboree.
Most of the players have heard about this tournament from fathers and grandfathers, uncles and brothers.
It is a BIG deal to all of them.
“My brother plays higher-up hockey, so I heard about it for the first time two or three years ago when he played in it,” Rampton said. “Our coach said a Chilliwack team hasn’t won it in 25 years or something, so we really want to win it.”
“We think we’ve got a really good shot!” Priest said.
The Jamboree is one of Canada’s longest-running peewee tournaments, dating back to 1957.
This year, 32 teams will compete in four bronze, silver, gold and platinum divisions. Over 550 players will play over 90 games at Prospera Centre and Twin Rinks.
See page 32 for a full round-robin schedule. Find more info online at chilliwackminorhockey.com or search Chilliwack Peewee Jamboree on Facebook.