The Peewee Rep Seawolves returned from the Tier 4 Peewee Provincial Championships in Fernie as proud silver medallists last week.
The team went 4-2-1 in seven games, with their only two losses coming to North Okanagan, in the round robin and then the final.
“Coming home with silver is pretty good. Seeing where the team starting at the beginning of the season, making it as far as they did is a big compliment to the players,” said coach Vince Aceto, who led the squad to a dominant season enroute to the Seawolves best finish at provincials in 10 years.
There were seven total teams in the tournament and each team played each other once, with the sixth game deciding if teams would go home or play for the gold.
In the opening game, Prince Rupert manhandled Chetwynd 19-1. Aceto was pleased with his defencemen in the game, five of six of whom scored goals. Jacob Gordon started in the net, alternating games with Elly Lowe to provide solid goaltending throughout the week.
Game two was against North Okanagan, which lost to Fernie in the finals last year, but found redemption this time around. The final score was 9-4, but Rupert rallied with a few goals in the last few minutes against a much bigger team.
The Seawolves then played Fernie, last year’s winner. Rupert was up 3-1 but penalty trouble left the team shorthanded, allowing Fernie to tie the game 3-3. Following that, the peewees played Langley, which was a big game. Down 2-0 after one period and 2-1 with five minutes to go in the third, the team never gave up and the hard work eventually paid off with a flurry of goals to win the game 5-2.
“We scored four goals in less than five minutes. It was a really good hockey game. They did not quit, they kept pushing and pushing,” Aceto said.
In the fifth game, the Seawolves easily beat 100 Mile House 9-2 before playing Kimberley in a deciding game for who would go to the finals. Elly Lowe shut the door the entire game and Mitchell Mann scored a pair of goals in the 4-0 win. Mann had a huge tournament, scoring five goals and four assists to lead the team with nine points.
The final game was a tough one for the Seawolves. The team had been good at penalty killing the whole tournament — and had to be, because they were often in the sin bin. But North Okanagan burned them with four powerplay goals in a 9-4 Rupert loss.
“We spent a lot of time in the penalty box, which made it tough for us to mount a comeback,” Aceto said.
Despite feeling the sting of a loss in the final game, the team recovered enough to be excited about winning the silver medal.
“When the buzzer went, they were hurt. I don’t think the accomplishment of silver sunk in right away. When they started to get compliments, then they realized that they were better, they were okay,” the coach said.
Afterwards, the Seawolves were given the Fair Play Award, which was awarded to the team for exhibiting the qualities of sportsmanship.
Aceto was especially happy with the play of his veterans during the tournament.
“Looking at our game with Kimberley, our second year kids stepped in when they had to. The bigger games, it was those guys. My defence was great too,” he said, mentioning Mann and Jonathan Pirillo as two defencemen who stood out.
He also lauded the play of Josh Leighton, a first year who he said played some of his best hockey all year, as well as Chase Leighton-Stevens and Kaiden Munro.
The entire team contributed, but on the offensive side, Mann lead the charge. Other players with a big week were Noah Aceto (7 G, 1 A), Kade Jones (4 G, 4A), Munro (4 G, 4A), Logan Hughes (5 G, 2A), Pirillo (4 G, 3A), Stevens (5 G, 1 A) and Sam Irving (3 G, 3A).
The Peewees will look much different next season, as 11 players will age out, but for now, the team will celebrate one of its best seasons in a long time.