Dan Foglietta

Dan Foglietta

Last few teams play for banner

Some teams might have eased up if they knew they would automatically qualify for provincials.

Not Nanaimo’s midget Tier 1 boys – they used their host berth in provincials as motivation to go harder.

“I said to them, ‘Yes, we have a berth into the provincials, but let’s earn our way there and show that we deserve to be there,’” said Trent Kaese, the team’s coach. “The kids kept to it.”

The Pacific Boat Brokers Clippers ended up win one short of that goal, losing the Island final to the Comox Valley Chiefs two games to one. But considering the team’s injuries and suspensions during the final, said Kaese, he couldn’t have asked for much more.

The Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association is hosting the B.C. Hockey midget Tier 1 boys’ championships starting Sunday (March 20) at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.

The home team will be up against five other qualifiers from around the province, including the favoured Surrey Thunder. Kaese expects Nanaimo to “stand strong” against all the teams.

“People are always happy just to make the B.C.s, but we want to win it,” he said. “If everyone focuses and plays the way they can, we certainly should have a chance.”

Home-ice advantage will help, especially if hockey fans fill the stands.

“People will be pleasantly surprised by how exciting it is,” Kaese said.

“I’d love to see people come out and support the local kids so that they have some people cheering for them.”

GAME ON … The Nanaimo Pacific Boat Brokers Clippers start B.C. Hockey’s provincial championships Sunday (March 20) with a 10:30 a.m. faceoff against Cloverdale. Opening ceremonies will be at centre ice Sunday at 6:30 p.m., followed immediately by that night’s feature game, Nanaimo versus Prince George, starting at 7 p.m. … Four other Nanaimo rep teams also face off at provincials Sunday around the province. Nanaimo’s Tier 1 bantam boys are heading to Abbotsford, the peewee Tier 1 boys are competing in Prince George, the North Island Extreme midget girls are going to Invermere and the Mid Island Extreme bantam girls are off to Kelowna.