North Shore, Burnaby dominate the competition
The two pre-tournament favourites will meet in Wednesday night’s final of the B.C. Tier 1 Bantam provincial hockey championships at Cowichan Arena.
Burnaby Winter Club, the two-time defending Western Canadian champions, and North Shore Winter Club are familiar foes and dominated the competition through the first two days.
The host Cowichan Valley Capitals played both teams in their first three games, holding their own against North Shore in a 5-1 loss Sunday and suffering an 8-1 defeat to Burnaby Monday night.
Burnaby and North Shore were both 3-0 going into a round robin meeting against each other Tuesday afternoon. Burnaby had scored 24 goals and allowed five to that point while North Shore matched Burnaby’s offense with 24 goals but with just two against.
Burnaby won the battle of the giants 4-3 in the expected barnburner and the teams will do it over again Wednesday at 8 p.m. for all the marbles.
The teams tied each other twice, with a win apiece, during regular-season meetings.
“We both match up,’’ said Burnaby coach John Batchelor after his team trounced Kamloops 7-1 Monday.
“They might have a bit of offense up-front on us. We have better defence.’’
Batchelor has the luxury of returning players with experience from the Western Canadian title last year.
“It’s always nice, especially guys who’ve been through it,’’ he said.
“We’re a pretty explosive team,’’ added Batchelor. “We really try to tell them you’ve got to play without the puck. It’s what you do without the puck that’s going to make the difference in the long run.’’
North Shore coach Jim Dinwoodie didn’t want to look too far ahead, but the battle with Burnaby for B.C. supremacy seemed inevitable.
“The rivalry is very intense,’’ he said. “We had some success and they’ve had some success against us.
“We have a healthy respect for each other.’’
North Shore has been building toward playing its best hockey at this time of the year since the middle of August with 60+ games, including an Alberta tournament.
“In every conceivable scenario, the type of teams we’ve played, we’ve stuck them in the fire,’’ said Dinwoodie. “You need to test yourself that way.’’
He gave Cowichan credit for a great effort in the tournament opener, even though his team held a wide 40-12 margin in shots-on-goal.
“I think the first 10 (minutes) they played with a ton of emotion,’’ said Dinwoodie. “We had to stem that tide. We knew that was coming.
“They came at us hard,’’ he added, but “you can’t play a whole game like that.’’
Cowichan did indeed run short of gas in the second period and managed just one shot on goal while being hemmed in its own end most of the period.
The Caps came back a bit in the third period and Dawson Haines broke Cole Demers’ shutout bid with 3:19 left on a shorthanded effort.
Jordy Bellerive (2), Justin Almeida, Keyvan Mokhtari and Tak Anholt scored goals in the game for North Shore.
“Obviously, we haven’t had a chance to play a team with that kind of talent,’’ said Caps’ coach Derek Topping.
“Our focus going in against a team like that was keep it simple and work hard.’’
The kids did that and were especially effective in holding the North Shore power play to one goal.
“Our penalty kill’s been real good,’’ said Topping. “I thought the kids were aggressive.’’
Goalie John Hawthorne was clearly the story of the game with numerous big saves to keep the score relatively close.
“I felt good,’’ said Hawthorne.
“They’re a good team. They move the puck well.’’
Hawthorne knew he’d be under intense pressure, but was unfazed.
“We need to play our system,’’ he said. “We’re a fast team. When we did that, we had success.
“We knew it was going to take a pretty strong effort. Sometimes it’s sort of nice starting off when you don’t have anything to lose.’’
In a complete turnaround, Cowichan outshot Victoria Racquet Club 65-13 and won 6-3 Sunday night. Tanner Tiel (2), Haines, Trey Watson, Ben Berard and James Cummings were the goal-scorers.
Ryan Hogg had the lone marker in the loss to Burnaby.
In other Sunday games, Kamloops downed Racquet Club 9-1 and Burnaby overpowered Prince George 9-3.
Other results from Monday included a 9-0 shutout for North Shore over Prince George and a 10-1 North Shore victory against Racquet Club.