Nolan Kneen stepped into a slapshot from high slot that beat Lloydminster Heat starter Dane Dow and gave the North Shore Winter Club a double overtime 4-3 win and the Western Canadian Bantam Championship title.
The goal came at the nine minute mark of the second overtime period, on a pass from D partner Conner McDonald and Evan Walls, ending a thrilling championship contest between the BC and Alberta champions.
Heat star forward Zane Franklin had scored with just 12 seconds left in regulation to force the overtime.
North Shore had opened the game in equally dramatic fashion, when Justin Almeida scored off the opening faceoff, just 17 seconds in. Winterhawks team Captain Jordy Bellerive then added another, hard top shelf, from Angus Crookshank, ten minutes in, to open a 2-0 lead in a period that was dominated by North Shore, outshooting the Heat 14-5.
Alberta battled back in the second, scoring two quick goals at the midway point to even the score 2-2. Kobe Mohr scored the first on assists from Jaxon Kaluski and Franklin. A minute and a half later Franklin scored, with assists from Kobe Mohr and Dalton Payne.
BC still held the advantage on the shot clock through the period (12-9), and with about two minutes left, Bellerive scored his second on a quick backhand in tight, from helpers from Brett Stapley and Jackson Leppard, to restore the BC lead at the end of two, 3-2.
The Alberta team came out fired up for the third period and rebalanced the shot clock, firing 16 on Winterhawk tender Dorrin Luding before Frankln’s dramatic marker evened the score with just twelve seconds left. Ty Smith and Mohr got the helpers.
Franklin had just finished serving a two minute tripping penalty, called with just 3:07 left, when the Heat moved the puck into the Hawks end, got a whistle and pulled their goaltender with around 20 seconds left on the clock.
Both teams called timeouts to rest their big guns before the puck was dropped on the right faceoff circle and then circled around the boards behind the net to the left side hashmarks, where Franklin fished it off the boards and fired it on net, beating Ludding on the blocker side.
The game then went straight into a 10 minute overtime, with both teams’ top guys playing a ton, before the whistle blew for an ice clean and much a welcomed rest.
Both teams came out hard after the ice clean before Kneens slapper nine minutes into the second overtime period sealed the Championship for BC.
The victory was extra sweet for North Shore’s coaching staff, and returning players Bellerive, Almeida, Kneen, McDonald, Stapley and Luding, who’d lost in the Western final last year in Kindersley to Alberta’s South Side Athletic Club.
After the game head coach Jim Dinwoodie pointed to that experience as being key to the team’s success this year.
“I think the experience that was learned last year really helped, we didn’t panic, I didn’t get any sense that these guys were gonna break. It wasn’t coaching it was just encouraging them, we’re going to keep going, we’re going to keep going.”
Dinwoodie focused the team what they’d accomplished over the year:
“66 wins , 4 losses and 2 ties, we scored over 400 goals, we gave up just over a goal a game. Nobody else came close to that. “
“But this is not easy, it’s not just talent, it takes more than that.”
The Western banner is Dinwoodie’s first, in a pursuit of over 20 years, including the last eight at North Shore Winter Club.
Dorrin Ludding – 1999
David Tendick – 1999
Kabir Gill – 2000
Nolan Kneen – 1999
Patrick Keon – 1999
Mackenzie Grey – 1999
Conner McDonald – 1999
Sami Pharoan – 1999
Justin Almeida – 1999
Brett Stapley – 1999
Jackson Leppard – 2000
Angus Crookshank – 1999
Jordan Vann – 1999
Jack Shepard – 2000
Jordan Bellerive – 1999
Evan Walls – 1999
Tanner Versluis – 1999
Eathan de Jong – 1999
Carter Berger – 1999
Jonas Leas – 1999
Head Coach; Jim Dinwoodie
Assistant Coaches: Mitch Pinsky, Kevin Pederson, Graham Acres