A Cinderella season has the Panago Peewee ‘A’ Tyees on the brink of winning the ultimate prize.
The Tyees travel to Aldergrove this weekend attempting to capture a second straight provincial championship, a feat that has never been accomplished by a Campbell River minor hockey team. Head coach Paul Stapley, who guided the locals to the title last year, has a good idea of what’s in store when the four-day tournament begins on Sunday.
“I expect the Lower Mainland teams that play in the Tier 1 division will be very strong,” he said, referring to Semiahmoo, Burnaby Winter Club, and possibly the host Aldergrove squad. “The other teams from different parts of the province will have some very good players but not the depth of the Lower Mainland teams.”
The Tyees face Semiahmoo in their opening game Sunday morning in a rematch of last year’s semi-final, which Campbell River won 3-2. They continue round-robin action Monday with a game against Williams Lake and then do battle with the Cranbrook Ice on Tuesday, the team they beat 8-3 in the final last season.
“To be successful we have to be playing our very best every game,” said Stapley. “The kids have come a long way this season and I’m confident we’ll have a great tournament.”
The Tyees certainly have momentum on their side, going through the Vancouver Island Tier 2 playoffs undefeated.
After beating Oceanside, Port Alberni and Powell River in preliminary round play, the black and orange pounded Saanich in the semi-finals, and swept Juan de Fuca in two straight to capture the Island crown.
Tyees captain Sage Lim, one of two players returning from last year’s squad, is also confident his team has a good chance of repeating as B.C. champs.
“We just need to keep our energy and work ethic up and not lose confidence if we get behind,” he said. “The coaches have been giving us a little bag skate at the end of every practice to make sure we have the extra strength to win in the third period.”
If Lim and his teammates are successful they will once again play in the championship game which is set for 8 p.m. Wednesday night at the Aldergrove Community Arena.