March 4, 2013 – It was a big night of hockey in Chilliwack, as all four Midget T1 teams in action had chance to advance to the Provincials with a win. A PCAHA playoff banner was also on the line.
Each team came into Monday night’s action with a win and a loss in the Final Four mini-tournament, creating headaches for players and parents trying to figure out what their team needed to do in order to advance. The prevailing attitude seemed to be simple calculation of win and you’re in, for the Provincials at least, and worry about the banner later.
Seafair Islanders A1 vs. Cloverdale Colts A1
The first game featured #14 seeded Seafair A1 (the proverbial Cinderella team of this year’s playoffs, who defeated #3 Richmond and #1 North Vancouver to get this far) and Cloverdale A1, a team that had also made a bit of a surprise run as the #6 seed.
Despite the gulf between the teams in terms of their seeding, there was very little to choose between the two. The game opened with a torrent of goals. Seafair led early, with Brett Gelz (@BrettGelz) scoring his team’s third goal of the first period to take them ahead 3-2, but Cam Seto (@c_seets) got Cloverdale back to level terms with the score tied at 3 to end the first period.
The goal scoring slowed in the second period, as Cloverdale was able to build a lead courtesy of goals from Dylan McCann (@Big_Dyl97) and Seto.
With only 11 minutes to play in the third, Michael Sapara (@MikeSapara) made a great individual play as he cut through the slot, feeding Jordan Funk (@jordanfunk8), who put Cloverdale up 6-3. And that’s when most teams would have relented, but Seafair’s run through these playoffs still had some legs left.
Brett Gelz converted on his team’s first powerplay of the game, making it 6-4 with eight minutes left. Two minutes later, Seafair’s Jay launched a bomb from the blueline that barely snuck through Cloverdale goalie Tate Sproxton – who by that point was under siege – to bring the score to 6-5. Okino then completed the comeback, as he poked the puck in off a scramble in front to level the game 6-6 with three minutes to play.
“I told them to relax, keep it simple and keep working hard,” said Cloverdale Colts Coach Mike Bose, when asked what was happening on the bench during what looked like an dreadful collapse.
Chris Seto then put the brakes on Seafair’s run, as he cut into the slot, dodged a defender, out-waited Islanders goalie Adam Cronier and buried a shot upstairs to restore Cloverdale’s lead with only two minutes to play. It was a brilliant solo effort and his second goal of the period.
“He just beared down on the puck,” said Bose. “He has such a desire to compete. He’s a driven, driven young man; they all are, all the guys on this team are so driven to success.”
The final two minutes were frantic, with Seafair creating a couple opportunities to tie it once again, but Cloverdale held on for a 7-6 win and punched their ticket to the Provincials in Abbotsford later this month.
“We had to win,” said Bose. “We knew we had to win and the guys really wanted to win. We faced an amazing opponent. That is one nice team; they know how to play the game, they know how to get their systems to work, they made us fight for it. It was fun. We loved it.”
Bose added that this win was big, but now there are even bigger challenges ahead. “Provincials were always our goal,” said Bose. “It’s all about the next level. The banner in the next round is the one we’re after. We’re going to play just as hard. We’ve played a lot of teams that should be there and we’re going to try to come out on top.”
Langley Eagles A1 vs Semiahmoo Ravens A1
At the same time, Langley was taking on Semiahmoo, with each team needing a win to move onto Provincials.
Langley got the first goal of the game shorthanded and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. A lucky bounce put Langley ahead 2-0 in the second before Semiahmoo rebounded to make it 2-1 midway through the period. Langley extended their lead to 3-1 with a powerplay goal to close out the period.
In the third period, Langley looked to have the game locked up, going up 4-1 early, but this game too featured an attempted comeback. Semiahmoo scored two powerplay goals to make it 4-3, but that was a close as they would get.
Langley held on for a 5-3 win, a trip to the Provincials and will get a shiny new PCAHA Midget T1 Champions Banner to hang in their arena as well.