A two-game sweep of the Victoria-Esquimalt Eagles propelled the peewee A2 Cowichan Valley Thunder into the provincial championships.
The Thunder beat the Eagles 5-2 in overtime at Archie Browning Arena last Wednesday, then completed the sweep with a 3-2 win at Kerry Park Arena on Friday.
“No one really thought we’d go this year, but we are,” head coach Gord Macdonald said. “We got beat pretty bad at the start of the year, but the boys just started turning their jets on, and the hard work has paid off.
“We’ve started to beat teams that beat us at the start of the year.”
An improved work ethic has given the Thunder a shot in the arm.
“Just working hard, out-running the other teams, out-hustling to loose balls,” Macdonald said. “Hard work beats skill a lot of the time if skill isn’t trying as hard.”
Goalie Clayton Rankin was outstanding in both games against Vic-Esquimalt. Josh Macdonald had a hat trick in overtime of the first game and added an assist in regulation. Keegan Martin and Walker Smith also scored, while Martin, Drake Spong and Dominic Adelborg had assists. Macdonald also scored Cowichan’s first two goals of the second game, and Logan Olson buried the winner early in the third period. Ryley Gillis, Rocco Spong and Colton Gron recorded assists.
The Thunder will head to provincials at the end of July. Before that, they have to play Saanich in a one-game playoff for the Island banner next weekend. Saanich has beaten Cowichan all year, except for a 1-1 tie in a tournament game. But they haven’t faced the new, improved Thunder yet.
“We haven’t played them for a month, so we’ll see what happens,” coach Macdonald said.