The Cloverdale Colts are off to a great start in the U18 tier 1 provincial hockey championships.
The squad has yet to surrender a goal after winning their first two games in round-robin play 1-0 and 3-0.
“We started out 2-0 and our goalies put up doughnuts,” said head coach Brien Gemmell. “We’ve guaranteed ourselves a spot in the semifinals, so the final four. It’s’ just a matter of whether we finish first or second in our pool.”
That means no matter what happens in their last game, or the semifinal, Cloverdale will be playing for a medal at the U18 championships, gold or bronze.
Cloverdale Minor Hockey is the hosting the U18 tourney at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex in Fleetwood. The U18 provincial playoff is the the highest-level championship for minor hockey in B.C.
The Colts blanked the Chilliwack Jr. Bruins 1-0 in their first game March 20 and shut out the North Central/North West Bobcats 3-0 in their second game March 21.
Gemmell said Koen St. Hilaire started in net for the Colts in Game 1, but had to come out after suffering a minor medical problem a minute into the game. Their other goalie, Zarek Purewal, jumped in and backstopped the Colts to a win.
“We put 46 shots on the Chilliwack goalie; he played phenomenal,” said Gemmell. “But ‘Z’, as we call him (Purewal), made the saves he had to and we got a goal in the second period and we managed to play good defence and our goal tender was great.”
Gemmell said St. Hilaire played outstanding in goal in Game 2 against the Bobcats. He said the game was very physical. He told his players if they used their speed, they could expose some areas of the Bobcats’ weaknesses, which would be the key to victory for Cloverdale.
“We managed to get out of the gate really quick and we built a 3-0 lead midway through the second period,” said Gemmell. “The game got a little rough when they started laying the body a bit more and our guys kinda bought into that.”
Gemmell said, going forward, his squad needs to have a little more team discipline and stay out of some of the rough play. He said they need to avoid any “extracurriculars” after the whistle, such as they succumbed to against the Bobcats.
“We need to do a better job in that area,” said Gemmell, adding his squad weathered the penalties and got back on track to finish Game 2 well.
“Zarek will start tonight for us against the (Okanagan) Central zone team,” added Gemmell. “They’re a really good team. They went undefeated this year. So, it’s going to be a challenge, but we’ve shown we can play at this level.”
He said his team will approach the Okanagan game using the same mindset with which they approach every game: play good defence, support the goalie, finish each shift.
That final round-robin game for Pool B goes tonight (March 22) at 6:15 pm at the Surrey Sport & Leisure Centre Arena. The Okanagan Central Rockets are also 2-0.
So far the North East Trackers lead the four-team Pool A with two wins and a tie, while the Ridge Meadows Rustlers currently sit in second place with a win and a tie. The Victoria Admirals are sitting in third with a win and tie, while the East Kootenay Zone is in fourth with two losses and a tie. Ridge Meadows plays Victoria this afternoon (March 22).
The top two teams from each of the four-team pools make the playoffs, with the winners of the semis playing for gold tomorrow night (March 23) and the losers of the semifinals playing for bronze beforehand.
“It’s been a great tournament,” added Gemmell. “We’re happy with the job our team and our Association and our volunteers have done, along with our provincial tournament committee that was here in Cloverdale. It’s been a fantastic event that we’ve hosted for B.C. Hockey. Everyone’s done a great job and it’s been a lot of fun.”
In other provincial championship action, Cloverdale’s U15 A1 team is also guaranteed a medal-round game at their Tier 1 provincial tournament.
The U15 Colts went 3-0-1 in their round robin, defeating Okanagan Thompson Regional 8-1, tieing West Kootenay Zone 4-4, downing the Juan De Fuca Grizzlies 8-1, and dumping North Central/North West 10-1.
The Colts now face East Kootenay Zone in one semifinal with the winner playing for gold and the loser of the game playing for bronze.