Feb 1, 2014
It was a game that would decide who would finish first in the top tier of Bantam hockey in the Lower Mainland.
The home team, Burnaby Winter Club Bruins (47-5-5) , a perennial powerhouse in AAA Bantam hockey, hosting cross town rival North Shore Winter Club (48-3-1) , the number one ranked team in Western Canada.
The head to head record going in: a 4-3 win for BWC October 14 playing an injury riddled NSWC at the Chilliwack tourney, a 4-3 win for NSWC in placement pre-season play Oct 26, and finally a 3-3 tie in league play Dec 6.
Going in, NSWC lead in league standings, with a record of 16-1-1 and a perfect 18 sportsmanship points, for 51 points. BWC trailed by 3 points, with a 15-0-3 record with 15 sporties, for 48 points.
Both teams had two games remaining, and a potential 6 points on the line.
Ahead of both teams, Seafair, with a 15-3-2 record, and a perfect 20 sporties, for a total of 52 points, but with no games remaining.
In the end, the Winterhawks would prevail, lead by Captain Jordan Bellerive who iced the game with 1:26 remaining on a quick release from the right circle that ripped in and out of the top shelf and gave the Winterhawks the 3-1 win.
The goal was Bellerive’s third of the night and solidified his status as one of the top picks in this year’s WHL Bantam draft.
The Winterhawk Captain had opened the scoring with an unassisted goal around the three minute mark of the first, and then scored again, on a set up by Brett Stapley, with 3:18 remaining to give the Hawks a 2-0 leading into the second period.
The tide soon changed in the second period however, as the Bruins took over the period, firing 13 shots on goaltender David Tendeck. The turning point came when Hawks D Nolan Kneen was assessed a two minute penalty for slashing and the Bruins power play went to work, firing shot after shot at Tendeck.
A few seconds after the penalty expired, the Bruins finally found a way to beat the NSWC tender, on a goal by Tyler Preziuso with assists from James Malm and Joseph Santalucia.
The Hawks were fortunate to hold off the Bruins attach over the final few minutes of the second. Playing with just seven forwards and four defenceman all game long, due to injuries and illness, the Hawks were running on empty when the buzzer rang, and the Zamboni came out for the ice clean.
The ice clean was a real boon to the Hawks, who came out looking like a brand new team when the puck dropped on fresh ice for the third. Momentum shifted back to NSWC, with both captains, Bellerive and Bruins, Henry Rhyu leading the charge with tough physical play. Both goaltenders made some spectacular stops through the period with teams getting 10 shots on goal.
Bellerive’s goal with just over a minute left to play sealed the game, and the league title for the Winterhawks.
The game ended on a bizarre note, with Hawks goaltender Dorin Luding being assessed a leaving-the-bench penalty, after a scrum ensued at the buzzer in the BWC end, that saw roughing minors handed out to Hawks D Nolan Kneen, and BWC F Tyler Preziuso. Although nothing further happened, the call resulted in a game suspension for Luding and also to Winterhawks Head Coach Jim Dinwoodie, and the NSWC’s first loss of a sportsmanship point this season.
The two points was enough to put the Hawks into first place, four points ahead of BWC, and render the outcome of each team’s final game Sunday, meaningless.
Look for more great action between these two teams later where they are likely to meet again in the Final 4 at the end of February.