Stopping the host Burnaby Winter Club for the first time in years to win an autumn tournament was a major thrill.
Beating the Edmonton NWZ Raiders 6-3 Sunday in the Amy Myles Memorial A final of the 41st annual Vernon Coca-Cola Invitational Pee Wee Hockey Tournament was just as sweet for the Vancouver Thunderbirds.
“Yes, this feels just as good as beating BWC,” said Vancouver captain Tyson Lin, who scored twice and added one assist in the Sunday night championship game at Civic Arena.
“We worked our asses off from start to finish tonight,” said Lin, a smooth centre who netted Vancouver’s first two goals. “We did the simple things right and it worked for us. Our team’s been great all season. We all get along well; we’re like family. Edmonton’s a good team; we had two hard-fought games against them.”
Jamie Ambrose, Ante Mustapic, Nick Varabioff and Quin Litherland supplied singles for the Thunderbirds, who finished the eight-team tournament at 5-0. Vancouver clipped Edmonton 4-3 in preliminary play Thursday night.
Ultra-talented forward Trey Fix-Wolansky, Ryan Hughes and Briar Whyte answered for Edmonton, who gave up two goals in 1:35, late in the third period.
“We’re used to winning and we lost our second game of the tournament which is really disappointing because it came in the A final,” said Fix-Wolansky, a work of art on the art of work.
“We got into some penalty trouble, but I was really proud of our guys because they stepped it up when it mattered. Vancouver’s a really good team. They worked really hard and they showed a lot of grit.’’
The Watkin Motors Mustangs went out in style by stuffing the Spokane Jr. Chiefs 8-4 in the D final Sunday morning.
Levi Danbrook pocketed 1+3 for the Mustangs, who finished at 1-4. Matt Kowalski added 1+2, while other goals came from Dylan Sedlacek, Ethan King, Reece Schroeder, Dean Whitcomb, Austin Caldwell and Connor Johnston.
Dawson Tritt, with 3+1, and JT Neely, answered for the Chiefs.
The Juan de Fuca Grizzlies got two goals from Tyler Preziuso in a 6-3 C final win over the Seattle Sno-Kings.
Brennan Gaytmenn scored twice and Mike Matson once as the South Delta Storm edged the Bow Valley Flames of Calgary 3-2 in the B final. Dylan Anhorn and Tyler Witzke replied for Bow Valley.
Edmonton iced South Delta 6-3, while Vancouver ambushed Bow Valley 11-4 in Saturday afternoon semifinals.
The Thunderbirds were honoured with the Dan Oxnard Memorial Trophy as Most Sportsmanlike Team at the tourney banquet Saturday night at the Best Western Vernon Lodge.
Retired NHLer Brent Gilchrist, a Vernon minor hockey graduate, addressed the players at the banquet.
The Ernie Kowal Memorial Trophy, for Top Coach, went to the South Delta Storm staff of Owen Pighin, Ryan Schram, a Vernon minor hockey grad, and Rob Bogress.
Al Hooper, a longtime minor official, received the Rienie Holland Memorial Trophy for outstanding service. Rienie’s grandson, Jake, made the presentation.