Hockey season will end with one more championship tournament in Nanaimo.
The Nanaimo Clippers peewee Tier 1 team hosts provincials starting Sunday (March 19).
The team missed the Island final on a tie-breaker a month and a half ago, but now it has a chance to achieve a greater goal.
“We started at the start of the year with a road map, essentially where we were going,” said Dave Boehm, the team’s coach. “And we’ve had the slogan ‘Who’s in?’ to make sure we’re all buying into our road map.”
He said the peewee Clippers are well-rounded, with a lot of speed and a capable offence, but will need 60-minute efforts to be successful at provincials against the best Tier 1 teams from around B.C.
“We’re going to need to compete every single shift, because you have to fight for every inch against those teams because they’re pretty deep,” Boehm said.
Nanaimo has two games on Sunday, playing Kelowna at 10:30 a.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre, then the 7:15 p.m. feature game that night against Victoria Racquet Club following 6:45 p.m. opening ceremonies.
Nanaimo plays Abbotsford on Monday at 7:45 p.m., takes on North Shore on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and then faces Prince George on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.
"Some of these kids, this might be their only chance to play in provincials, so we want to try and make it a great event, both on and off the ice for all the teams coming," Boehm said.
In other minor hockey news, Nanaimo’s Tier 1 bantam boys start provincials Sunday in Kamloops.
Nanaimo girls look to make Impact at provincials
Also, there are six girls from Nanaimo and one from Lantzville on the North Island Impact midget A squad that’s hosting provincials in Parksville's Oceanside Place starting Sunday.
Eight teams from around British Columbia will gather for the tourney. The Impact have played most of those squads and know they can be competitive with B.C.’s best.
“We can be right in the mix if we want to be, for sure,” said Dave Young, coach of the Impact.
The North Island squad is made up of girls from Parksville, Nanaimo, Lantzville, Port Alberni and Campbell River and most are in their first year of midget rep.
“We were a bit challenged right out of the gates due to the fact that we had a lot of first-years that hadn’t played competitive hockey before,” Young said. “We ended up bringing a whole bunch of girls in that played house, for lack of a better term, and it maybe isn’t as structured a game.”
But the players showed a willingness to work at learning systems and “came around,” the coach said.
“They’ve put in the time and the commitment and the effort and it’s been good. We’ve definitely gotten better this year,” said Young.
Next week’s tournament will feature great hockey, the coach said; it will be fast and every team there will have players capable of moving on to higher levels. As for the home team’s chances, Young said the Impact can be successful at provincials if they get pucks on net, limit mistakes and bring the right effort.
“In order for us to succeed, we have to be the hardest-working team on the ice every shift, every minute of every game,” said Young.
Sunday’s opening ceremonies are at 6:45 p.m. followed by the feature game at 7:15 p.m. between North Island and Kamloops. North Island faces Fort St. John on Monday at 6:15 p.m. and then Richmond on Tuesday, also at 6:15 p.m. Playoffs begin Wednesday at 8 a.m. with the gold-medal game at 8 p.m.
Kristen Arnold, tournament chairperson, said the parent groups of both the North Island Impact and South Island Royals have worked very hard with preparations.
“I’ve watched them work tirelessly over the last six months in order to make this happen,” she said.
Some of the players have been to provincials before; the majority haven’t, Arnold said, “so they’re super excited.”