Captain Tyler Popowich joined the mass of Okanagan Hockey Academy bantam prep teammates who swarmed goalie Brandon Peacock as they won their first Canadian Sport School Hockey League championship Sunday at the OHS Training Centre.
The OHA were crowned champs after they dumped Kelowna’s Pursuit of Excellence 5-1. Tanner Bahm and Connor Bouchard scored twice, while Riley Krane opened the scoring. Bahm netted the winner at 12:35 of the second period.
“It was hard but the boys battled through,” said Popowich. “It’s a great feeling.”
Popowich credited the OHA with using their speed and physical presence in getting the win.
“I just think we dominated them there for a bit,” he said. “They are pretty hard, they are a rough team.”
OHA coach Kip Noble said they expected a battle as the two teams have had tough games all season.
“In the third period we just had a little bit more gas,” said Noble, who replaced Mike Needham who accepted a position with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers early this season. “We could see it. I think we took advantage, played very solid defence. We were fortunate to get a couple of extra goals.”
Before the third period, Noble said they reminisced about the year they went through, from the coaching change to running stairs and tough games.
“I hope it’s something that they remember forever,” said Noble. “It’s something I will for sure. It’s fantastic.”
Peacock finished with 27 saves, his lone blemish on a goal from Max Kryski.
Hildebrand shuts out top seed Yale
The OHA White came out with a little burning fire as they faced Yale Hockey Academy, the Prep Division’s top team. Five different skaters had multi-point nights at the SOEC as OHA White cruised past the Yale Hockey Academy 6-0 Sunday afternoon capturing the championship for the second consecutive season.
“It wasn’t what we expected. Had a lot of tight games with Yale,” said Jordy Bellerive, one of six scorers for the OHA. “Everybody was saying that we’re too young and inexperienced to handle them and the older teams. It came down to the hard work. We worked really hard. Especially in the final game, we gave everything.
“We all just wanted to win so bad to prove everybody wrong,” continued Bellerive, adding that most of the doubters were the other teams.
Michael Rasmussen, who finished with eight points in three games, set up Taylor Ward at 16:42 of the first period. With 4:55 left, Josh Maser was set up by Rasmussen and Ward for a 2-0 lead and Maxim Patterson gave them a 3-0 lead heading into the dressing room after the first period. Brendan Semchuk scored the lone goal in the second, then Bellerive and Hayden Dick made it 6-0. Hildebrand only faced 18 shots.
“They are a really tough team,” said Bellerive, adding they had four of the five top scorers, the league MVP (Kohen Olischefski) and top defenceman (Darren Rizzolo). “When we stuck to our systems, it made things a lot easier.
“It was unbelievable,” said Bellerive, a Penticton Vees affiliate player, of winning the championship. “Winning it was something special for all of us.”
In other CSSHL action, Elite 15s Division, Parmjot Dhaliwal scored twice in the third period to complete the comeback as the Yale Hockey Academy captured their second consecutive championship Sunday afternoon with a 3-2 win over the BWC Hockey Academy at the SOEC. Logan Bromhead and Angus Crookshank tallied to put Burnaby up 2-0, but a late second period goal off the stick of Bronson Sharp gave Yale life going into the third. Braedon Fleming made 29 saves for Yale, while Kolby Matthews turned aside 32 shots in the Burnaby crease.
In bantam varsity, Garrett Wicks scored the winner with 7:13 remaining in the third period as the Delta Hockey Academy captured the inaugural championship with a 3-1 win over the OHA at the OHS Training Centre Sunday. Cody Hough opened the scoring for Delta, while Buddy Johnson sealed the deal with a late power-play marker. Dexton Mozell scored the lone goal for Okanagan, which got 52 saves from goaltender Adam Evanoff. Georgi Wilson made 25 saves to earn the victory in goal for Delta.
Shawinigan Lake School won the Varsity Division championship in their first season. They defeated the Compete Hockey School 4-3 in a shootout.
CSSHL chairman and Okanagan Hockey Academy president Andy Oakes said the four-day championship they hosted with great support from the City of Penticton and Penticton Hospitality Association went well. Last Friday discussions among league officials took place to have the championship return to Penticton next year. A final decision will be made in the next 10 to 14. days.
“All the feedback that we got was really positive around how professional the setting was. The facilities being second to none,” said Oakes, added that Global Spectrum staffed were praised for their efforts.
Oakes was also please with the on-ice product.
“I think the quality of hockey was extremely high,” said Oakes.
The spotlight was also on the players in terms of who was watching. Oakes said they had more than 100 scouts, or general managers from junior B, junior A, major junior, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the NHL at the event.
“The exposure for the players from that side of it was very positive,” he said.