This year’s edition of the North Shore Winter Club Bantam A1 team have quite a legacy to live up to – including three straight BC Provincial championship banners and numerous Big tournament banners.
And although it wasn’t the championship banner win this weekend, the team proved itself to be a gritty competitor at the Medicine Hat Hounds tournament this weekend, capturing the bronze with another amazing come back win.
The team started the tournament with a disappointing 2-2 tie vs Sask Valley, and then stumbled out of the block in game two before gathering steam and closing out Airdrie 4-0. The finished the round robin with a 4-1 against Lloyminster to finish in first place in their pool.
NSWC defenceman Jimmy Darby was recognized for his play and named Best Defenceman of the tournament after the round robin.
The first place finish set up a quarterfinal vs the #2 Red Pool seed Edmonton Knights of Columbus.
The game proved to be a real barnburner. The Winterhawks fell behind 3-0 after the first, then clawed their way back to 3-1 after second before tying it up 3-3 on a late goal by d-man Jayden Lee to force OT.
Forward Zachary Bolton then scored in the OT, to complete his hat-trick and advance the team to the semis, vs Burnaby Winter Club on Sunday morning.
The BWC game turned out to be a high-spirited, and chippy affair, with the Bruins prevailing 3-0 and relegating the Winterhawks to the bronze medal game, vs Calgary-based Edge Academy.
In the medal game, the Edge came charging out of the gate and had established a 2-0 lead going in the third before the Winterhawks launched another incredible comeback.
First year Cole Shepard started it, roofing a feed from Logan Doust. Ben Croasdale then scored the tying goal on a pass from Shepard to send the game into overtime.
Both teams were exhausted and battled through the first OT and into the second OT. Finally NSWC d-man Jason Chu broke it loose with a two-way passing play to Doast and then to Bolton in front of the net. A scramble ensued and Bolton knocked in a loose puck for the his second OT winner and another terrific team come-back.
NSWC goaltender Patrick Harroch played a big part in the win, facing 43 shots from a very determined Calgary team.
The team will face top competition again in mid-January, when it returns to the John Reid Memorial Tournament in St. Alberta.
It will be interesting to see how the team progresses over the next few weeks, and how they fare against top teams from Western Canada and the United States.