April 3, 2018
Seafair Bantam A1 posted a perfect 5-0-0 record to claim the Tier 1 Bantam Provincial title in Nanaimo a week ago, downing Prince George 3-0 in the final, March 22. On Sunday, the Islanders completed their dream season, with 2-1 double OT win in Kamloops over Alberta’s Airdrie Xtreme, to capture the Western Canadian Bantam Championship title.
Seafair entered the BC Provincials as the top ranked PCAHA team, after winning the Lower Mainland title with a dominating 19-1-0, 130GF-25GA regular season record, topped off with 3-0-0 record in the PCAHA playoffs.
In the Western Championship tournament, the Islanders came out on top of the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba champions, as well the host Kamloops Blazers.
Seafair won three of four round-robin games to reach the final and would be the only team to defeat the high-powered Alberta champions.
Seafair started with a tight 5-4 win over the host Thompson Blazers on Thursday to open the tournament. The teams had battled hard all game, with the Blazers coming back from a 2-1 first period deficit to start the third tied 3-3. Two third period goals by the Islanders eventually decided the game, though the Blazers scored one late to finish it 5-4. Shots finished 31-22 for the Blazers. Ajeet Gundarah got the win. Nine different players scored.
The Islanders then downed Airdrie 3-1 in game two, Saturday morning, scoring two unanswered in the third to close it out. Shots where 38-35 Airdrie. Dylan Tsang got the win.
The Islanders then lost 4-3 to the Winnipeg Hawks in their second game of the day which got underway at 7:30 PM. The Hawks had downed West Central 9-1 in their first game of the day at noon. The Islanders came out with a blast, opening a 3-0 lead to close out the first, then gave up two goals in each of the second and third periods, for their only loss. The Hawks outshot the Islanders 42-30, including 14-6 in the third. Gundarah took the loss. Three different Islanders scored.
In their final round robin game, the Islanders handled Saskatchewan’s West Central Wheat Kings 9-3, which set up the rematch vs Airdrie for the final. Jaden Uy scored a hat trick in the rout. Michael Abfrall was 1G-3A, Ethan Riesterer was 1G-2A, and Jacob Bonkowski was 3A to lead the attack. Shots were 41-21 Islanders.
Airdrie had also posted a 3-1-0 record in the round robin, starting with a 5-3 win over the Wheat Kings in their opener on Thursday. After falling to the Islanders 3-1 on Friday morning, Airdrie downed the Blazers 3-1 in the afternoon. On Saturday, they handled Winnipeg 7-1 to set up the Championship match on Sunday afternoon.
Gold Medal Game report – courtesy of the Richmond News
The intense final game was scoreless until Xtreme captain Craig Armstrong broke the deadlock just past the midway mark of the third period.
The Islanders finally tied it up, with just 2:22 remaining, when Michael Abgrall fed a trailing Jaden Uy in the slot and he wired home the equalizer.
A 10-minute overtime solved nothing.
Five minutes into the second OT, Thomas Tien finally ended the drama with the biggest goal of his young life after a terrific rush by Austin Kofler to get him the puck as he charged the net.
Shots finished 50-29 for the Islanders, including 10 vs 6 in the OT periods. Gundarah got the win, stopping 28.
“That was one of – or the best game the kids have played all year. Each time after the period I came back to the guys and said I couldn’t ask for anything more from them,” said Seafair head coach Steve Robinson. “Everybody was checking and everybody was playing. They could hold their head high no matter what happened.
“The notable thing about Thomas was in the game against (Saskatchewan the day before) our 5-1 goal was the most celebrated because it was his first in something like 28 games. He had a bunch of assists but was snake-bitten. He ended up with three goals in five games at Westerns. We talked about secondary scoring being a key and it couldn’t have gone any better.”
A rock-solid two-goalie rotation has paid off all season and the formula worked to perfection once again.
Dylan Tsang was terrific in the earlier 3-1 round-robin win over Airdrie yet Robinson went to Ajeetpal Gundarah in the rematch and he was outstanding with 49 saves. The Xtreme outshot the Islanders 50-29.
Seafair had opened the championships with a 5-4 win over the host Blazers. Kofler broke a 3-3 tie midway through the third period and insurance goal that followed from Carson Bigras proved to be the difference.
A twinbill Good Friday began with the big win over Airdrie to put the Islanders in the driver’s seat. Abgrall tied the game and a couple of quick goals in the third from Davis Sato and Kofler secured Seafair’s second straight victory.
“We had moments in that game where we were reeling,” admitted Robinson. “They were up 1-0 in the first eight minutes of the second period and we barely made it out of our zone. I had to to burn a timeout (midway through the second) because I felt like we were going to get buried. We calmed the team down, pushed back and we got out of the second 1-0 and then came back and had a massive third.
“I kind of felt like we were opportunistic to win that game. We didn’t carry the game but we played okay. It was clear to me Airdrie was a very good team. To beat these guys twice was going to be tough.”
An opportunity to lock up a spot in the final with a game to spare evaporated when Manitoba champion Winnipeg Hawks stormed back for a 4-3 win. Seafair led 3-0 after 20 minutes on goals by Jacob Bonkowski, Sato and Uy. The Hawks scored twice in the second then completed the comeback with two more in the third, outshooting the Islanders 42-30 on the night.
It was their first loss since early December in Pacific Coast Amateur Tier One league play, a stretch of over 30 games. The Hawks went on to earn the bronze medal.
Seafair wasted little time returning to the win column — punching its ticket to the gold medal game with a dominating 9-3 triumph over the winless West Central Wheat Kings on Saturday afternoon. Uy led the way against the Saskatchewan champions with a hat trick, while Abgrall had four points, including a goal. Tsang stopped 18 shots.
An outstanding tournament for Josh Wessels earned him the Top Defenceman Award, along with a spot on the All-Tournament Team that was based only on round-robin play.
The next big event for him and some of his teammates is expected to be the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft in early May.
The Islanders finished the season as winners of the Pacific Coast tier one regular season and playoff titles, along with being the first team from Seafair to ever win the provincial championship in B.C. Hockey’s top Bantam tier. Ironically, it’s the final time as a strictly Seafair entry with the association merging with Richmond Minor next season.
“It was my last game with Seafair after seven years and Seafair’s last game game after 54 years. You can’t make this stuff up. To come together the way these boys did was unbelievable,” added Robinson.
“When we got to the McArthur Sports Island Sports Complex there was an Olympic size barn and I got excited because every team there was twice our size. We were the tiniest team by far. Then I found out we were playing all our games in the small rink with basically no neutral zone and (laughing) I’m thinking we are screwed.
“I told the kids there was going to be a price to pay to win these games. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they put forward. The final was so heavy and the battles were so intense.”
The Western Canada triumph capped quite a week for Robinson. Five days earlier he coached the Delta Ice Hawks to the Pacific Junior Hockey League championship. He drove directly from Maple Ridge to Kamloops after the game six win on Wednesday night with the Islanders opening their schedule Thursday afternoon.
The boys dedicated the win to their strength and conditioning coach Scott Hebert who passed away the same weekend as the Islanders won provincial championship in Nanaimo.
Final 2018 Western Bantam Standings:
|West Central Wheat Kings||4||0||4||0||0||7||25||-18||58||0.000|
Western Bantam Top 20 Offensive Players
|1||19||Roulette, Conner||Winnipeg Hawks||5||6||7||13||2.60||1.20||1.40||0||2||0||0|
|2||8||Neill, Rory||Winnipeg Hawks||5||2||8||10||2.00||0.40||1.60||0||0||0||16|
|3||14||Streek, Carter||Thompson Blazers||5||5||3||8||1.60||1.00||0.60||0||0||0||10|
|4||16||Abfrall, Michael||Seafair Islanders||5||3||5||8||1.60||0.60||1.00||1||0||0||2|
|5||18||Goodbrandson, Nathan||Winnipeg Hawks||5||3||5||8||1.60||0.60||1.00||1||0||0||2|
|6||19||Uy, Jaden||Seafair Islanders||5||5||2||7||1.40||1.00||0.40||1||0||0||0|
|7||10||Armstrong, Craig||Airdrie Xtreme||5||3||4||7||1.40||0.60||0.80||0||0||0||2|
|8||11||Pasternak, Dawson||Winnipeg Hawks||5||5||1||6||1.20||1.00||0.20||0||2||0||10|
|9||20||Tien, Thomas||Seafair Islanders||5||3||3||6||1.20||0.60||0.60||0||0||0||4|
|10||12||Bonkowski, Jacob||Seafair Islanders||5||2||4||6||1.20||0.40||0.80||0||0||0||7|
|11||11||Toye, Branden||Thompson Blazers||5||2||4||6||1.20||0.40||0.80||0||0||0||6|
|12||9||Kofler, Austin||Seafair Islanders||5||3||2||5||1.00||0.60||0.40||1||0||0||0|
|13||17||Kuczek, Ryland||Winnipeg Hawks||5||3||2||5||1.00||0.60||0.40||1||0||0||0|
|14||17||Cathcart, Shaw||Airdrie Xtreme||5||2||3||5||1.00||0.40||0.60||0||0||0||0|
|15||14||Mueller, Ty||Airdrie Xtreme||5||2||3||5||1.00||0.40||0.60||0||0||0||4|
|16||8||Riesterer, Ethan||Seafair Islanders||5||1||4||5||1.00||0.20||0.80||0||0||0||0|
|17||4||Moravec, Brett||Airdrie Xtreme||5||4||0||4||0.80||0.80||0.00||0||0||0||6|
|18||12||Milburn, Reagan||Thompson Blazers||5||3||1||4||0.80||0.60||0.20||0||0||0||4|
|19||9||Zandee, Tristan||Airdrie Xtreme||5||1||3||4||0.80||0.20||0.60||0||0||0||0|
|20||18||Passalacqua-Mann, Dom||Seafair Islanders||5||0||4||4||0.80||0.00||0.80|
Final BC Provincial Bantam T1 Standings:
|Victoria Racquet Club||3||0||1||2||2|