Penticton team plays hard while battling flu
Neither Penticton atom development team went deep into their Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association playoff run.
The Speedway Vees finished with a tie and three losses, while the Game Time Action Vees placed fourth. That didn’t diminish how both teams felt about the weekend in which their association held the 21-team tournament in collaboration with OMAHA.
It was a tough go for the Speedway Vees. Coach Brad Heintz was impressed with his group of nine and 10 year olds, who midway through the tournament got hit with the flu bug. Twelve of 17 players became ill.
“They fought hard, especially the last two games when it really hit us,” said Heintz. “The kids were quite resilient and their attitude was fantastic in terms of playing. We talked a lot about facing adversity even though they are only young kids. It was a good lesson learned in terms of fighting through challenges.”
Heintz said he doesn’t put much emphasis on winning at this age. His focus is on the players having fun and developing.
“I just wanted to end the season on a high note,” he said. “Have lots of fun with the kids.”
There was no doubt to Heintz that they did have fun.
“Actually when the kids were sick that was the comical part of the weekend,” said Heintz, who had a garbage can on the bench that was used. “The kids were just playing really well against a lot of good teams. The thing people will remember about this season is just the playoffs this weekend, in terms of the cards being stacked against us.”
Their counterparts, the Game Time Sports Vees lost to Kamloops 5-3.
After finishing fourth overall in regular season play, the Game Time Sports Vees played through a tough round robin playoff schedule in the Platinum division and missed the semifinal round.
“We were very pleased with our season overall, our standings and particularly the skill development achieved by our group of both 2002 and 2003 players,” said coach Imre Togyi by email. “We were able to utilize our overall team speed and team first approach to our advantage and were consistently competitive in all our game play across the year.”
Togyi added their season result is an excellent achievement reflecting the effort and commitment of our players. This is something they can take forward with them and build on as they continue their growth in the sport. Vernon team 1 defeated Vernon team 2 5-0 to win the Platinum Division. Merritt defeated Salmon Arm 6-5 in the gold division and Revelstoke defeated the Kelowna peewee girls 3-2 in the Michie Division. There were three division titles up for grabs; Michie - Tier 3, Gold - Tier 2 (lower ranked six teams) and Platinum - Tier 2 (top eight ranked teams.)
The Penticton atom Rockets continued to play well after a 16-0 season to win the league title and won the South Central Atom Rec playoffs going 6-0. During that stretch they had good tight games with both South Okanagan (Oliver) and second place league finisher Penticton Venom. In the first round, the Rockets easily defeated Westside by scores of 4-0 and 10-2. They faced South Okanagan in round 2 winning 7-1 and 8-2.
“Both games were close, one-goal games at the end of the second period, at which time the Rockets fitness level and depth took control and dominated the final periods,” said coach Tony Orioli in an email.
In the finals, the Rockets beat an improved Venom team. In Game 1, trailing 2-1 entering the third, the Rockets dug deep and scored five straight goals to win 6-2. Game 2 saw the Rockets win 6-1. Orioli praised the Venom team.
“Hats off to a Venom team, coached by Rene Spence, who made great strides in skill development throughout the year to keep both games very close and gave the Rockets two of their toughest games played all year,” said Orioli.
Next up is the OMAHA District Championships March 9 and 10 in Lumby.