The Prince George-based Cariboo Cougars, with Williams Lake’s Trey Thomas and Daine Dubois, fell just shy of capturing the team’s second prestigious Mac’s AAA Hockey Tournament championship in Calgary during the holidays.
The team fell 5-4 in overtime to the Belarus Under 17 National Team at the tournament, which ran from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.
After rallying from a two-goal deficit after 40 minutes to force the extra session, the Cougars found themselves unable to find the go-ahead goal. Demtri Savritski scored the winner for Belarus just five seconds into overtime while on a power play.
Thomas, along with teammates Jarin Sutton, Tyler Maser and Hunter Floris scored for the Cougars.
The tournament featured 25 of the best boys teams and 15 girls teams from throughout the world, and pitted the Cougars in a division with the Calgary Northstars, the Notre Dame Hounds, the New York Junior Islanders and Edmonton’s South Side Athletic Club BP Athletics.
The four-game round robin saw the Cougars go undefeated.
In its first game, Dubois lit the lamp to help the Cougars to a 7-3 win over the Northstars.
Next, they played a tight contest with the Hounds at Calgary’s Father David Bauer Arena, coming out on top with a 3-2 win.
The Cougars then won their third game over the Junior Islanders, 8-3, where Thomas and Dubois both found the twine.
In the Cougars’ fourth consecutive victory they toppled Edmonton, 7-1, to reach the quarterfinal. Thomas recorded three assists in the win, helping advance the team in the tournament.
There, they laid a 4-1 drubbing on the St. Albert Mintos. Thomas continued his solid play, tallying twice in the final frame, bringing the team back from a 1-0 early-game deficit.
“We had a pretty solid Mac’s Tournament but it didn’t quite go our way in the semis,” Dubois said while the Cougars stopped in Williams Lake for a team building session at Total Ice Training Centre this past Friday before heading to Langley to take on the Hawks.
“We wanted a little bit more. It’s a little disappointing but we’re just looking to keep things rolling going into the second half of the regular season.”
Belarus would go on to win the championship, 6-1, over the Saskatoon Contacts.
The Cougars are currently in first place in the BC Major Midget Hockey League and have lost just twice in 26 games with a 23-win, two-loss and one-tie record on the campaign.
They will also be the host of this year’s 2017 Telus Cup, the national midget hockey championship.
While at Total Ice Friday, Cougars’ head coach Trevor Sprague said it was a good opportunity for the team to get a little down time following the intense holiday tournament.
He noted both Thomas and Dubois are skilled hockey players and are integral parts of the team.
“They’re top-line guys that contribute every game,” Sprague said. “They’re two of our best guys that can be our best players every night. Their offensive ability is through the charts on creating opportunities, being able to score goals and making guys better around them. Their skillsets make our team better day in and day out.”
Thomas, meanwhile, said it was fun to be at Total Ice, where the team hosted a fun three-on-three tournament.
“It’s a good opportunity to just let loose a little and have some fun before we go play this weekend,” he said.
Sprague added he’s always impressed with the Total Ice Training Centre facility whenever the team visits.
“It’s a common sense thing for us as an organization to come here,” he said. “We’re pretty excited Williams Lake has something like this in the community.”