Terrace’s Peewee Reps (who recently received a letter in praise of their sportsmanlike conduct) have had a tremendous season so far, going five for five in tournaments and looking to make that an even six at their last tournament of the regular season in Prince George this weekend.
“It’s been pretty exciting,” said one of the team’s four coaches, Kevin Marleau. “Five for five.”
Like many minor hockey teams, the Peewees’ travel schedule has been heavy – for their last two tournaments, the first a Tier 3 in Kamloops and the second a Tier 2/Tier 3 in Quesnel, the team travelled 3,700 kilometres and played 10 games in 10 days.
And it was worth it.
They won the tournament in Kamloops, then the next weekend headed to Quesnel where they faced stiff competition.
“We had a pretty tough draw during the regular part of the round robin,” said Marleau. “It was a really good tournament.”
They met Williams Lake twice, tying them 3-3 early in the tournament and then meeting up with them again in the semifinal.
“They’re a very, very nice team,” said Marleau.
And the game was tight – with 10 minutes left, Williams Lake tied it 1-1, before a crucial goal four minutes later made it 2-1 Terrace.
Thanks to some good goaltending and solid defence, the team managed to hang on for the final six minutes to get the win and head into the final – which, after the thriller against Williams Lake, ended in an anticlimactic 10-0 win over Burns Lake.
The team now heads to Prince George for a Tier 2 tournament, which Marleau is anticipating will be tough – they’ll certainly face off against Williams Lake again.
And then it’s time for playdowns in order to qualify for provincials – they’ve got the number one seed but need to win two in a row in order to qualify for provincials, which are in Nelson this year.
“That’s our goal,” he said. “We’re optimistic we’re going to get there, but we’ve got some work to do.”
There are a number of factors that may account for this powerhouse team – the fitness level and physical conditioning is strong, in part because a number of the players are enrolled in Skeena Middle School’s rigorous hockey academy – meaning they’ve found that as the games go on and other teams begin getting tired, the Terrace team still has lots of juice left.
And the team shows a lot of depth too – any of the three lines can go out there and be consistent.
“The fact that we’re able to play all of our players, and we don’t rely heavily on just one line have been a real advantage,” he said, noting they’ve also been able to count on their goalies.
The team can also count on its affliliate players – at a recent tournament, affiliate Reece Finlayson scored an important game winner versus Dawson Creek.
But technique aside, there’s also just a spark between the players that’s unique.
“It’s just kind of a neat group,” he said.
“A lot of these kids have played together for quite a few years,” he said, noting another fun fact about this group – they’re the first group of kids who have grown up their whole Terrace minor hockey life with two rinks.
“Their first or second year of Timbits, this group here, was when that second set of ice came in,” said Marleau.