The NSWC Bantam A4 team left Vancouver first thing Friday morning and headed up to Merritt under a bright, clear sky, snowy roads and -15 temps.
In their first tournament game, the North Shore boys jumped out to a quick lead on 3 straight from Evan Gerbrecht to open a 3-1 lead against home town Merritt at the end of first.
The Winterhawks poured it on in the second to take a 6-2 lead into the mid game break for an ice clean.
But then the wheels came off, as Merritt roared back with 6 unanswered goals in the third.
A pair of hat tricks from Merritt lettermen were keys to the Merritt win. Captain Eric Lalonde kept his team in it early scoring the first two goals, before Sunil Sahota stepped it up with the third goal at the end of the second. Sahota then scored two more in the third and Lalonde finished it off with his third late in the game.
NSWC head coach Matt Leadbetter chalked the fade up to the boys not being used to playing three full 20 minute stop time periods, which is always a big adjustment for Lower Mainland teams heading to the Interior were real hockey ice times are still the norm.
Leadbetter praised Gerbrecht, who earned game first star, for his solid two way play. He also noted Lacon Serida’s solid play, especially since he’s been out of contact hockey for awhile, and it was a very physical game.
The 11 player roster laces it up again for their second game at 7:00 Saturday.