It was not the start they were looking for.
The Langley Eagles were in the championship final of the provincial peewee tier 4 tournament in Kimberley last week against Fort Nelson.
And 10 seconds in, Fort Nelson scored to take a quick 1-0 lead.
“It started off quite challenging,” said Langley head coach Bryan Barratt.
“Our bench got animated very quickly (But) I settled everybody down, told them to take a deep breath and then we managed to score five in a row.”
The Eagles led 5-1 heading into the third period and the coach told his team to be prepared for a Fort Nelson onslaught.
“We told our players, they are going to come out hard, they are not going to roll over,” he said.
And sure enough, the opposition struck for a pair of goals to cut the deficit down to two.
“When they got a couple of goals, it was a matter of keeping them settled, keeping them focused and making sure we stuck to our game plan, especially in the last eight or nine minutes, play well defensively and not give them any opportunities, and it worked,” Barratt said.
The Eagles would prevail 5-3 to capture the provincial banner.
“The kids were fired up and excited. The great thing was we had a pretty solid game plan, where we went out hard initially and tried to establish our game and establish a lead,” Barratt said.
“And once we did, our plan was to play defensively. As we kept telling them, defence wins championships and the nice thing is they bought into that. It was nice to see, we were proud of them.”
“It sure makes the ride home a lot sweeter,” the coach chuckled.
The victory capped off a dominating performance by the Langley squad, which went 5-0 in round robin.
The team’s first three victories were all decisive wins, as they beat Kimberley 9-3, hammered Fort Nelson 13-4, and defeated Houston 9-2. They closed the round robin with a 3-1 win over Revelstoke and 6-2 against Elk Valley.
Winning provincials is a huge accomplishment but right from the start of the season, Barratt and his coaching staff sensed they had something special with this squad.
“The coaching staff believed this was a special group of boys who had the talent, skill and attitude to do so,” he said.
“Things can go sideways so quickly, and the team, you always have challenges, but we really stayed focused as a team, everybody contributed and stayed focused on their role, and as a result, it was just a phenomenal experience for the boys.”
In addition to winning the gold medal at provincials, Langley won two other tournaments, as well as finishing second in another.
The Eagles went 45-14-3 overall.