The Salish Secondary school hockey team came a long way this year. Last season they didn’t win a game, but this year they won the league championship.
Head Coach Derek Fulton said the team battled all season and worked even harder in the championship game when they downed Frank Hurt 7-3 in the Surrey High School Hockey League Division B title game March 9 at South Surrey Arena.
“The game was a lot tighter than the score dictated,” said Fulton. “But the kids played hard and deserved the win.”
His squad was behind 2-1 after the first period, but battled back and the game was tied 3-3 after the second frame. Going into the third, Salish potted two goals to go up 5-3 and late in the game they added two empty-netters on Frank Hurt.
It was a big difference from last year. The team didn’t win a game last season.
“In the past, we made it all-inclusive,” explained Fulton. “It was all ages, Grade 8 through Grade 12, we had female and male, everyone was out to build the program and create interest in having hockey at the high school level.”
He said it worked out in the past and a lot of students just enjoyed strapping on the blades and playing some hockey, but the team couldn’t muster a win and lost many games by very wide margins, in the ranges of 15-4 and 16-2. Their continuous losing streak made it hard to gain and retain players as many Grade 12s were uninterested in getting smashed every game so they’d stop showing up.
“This year, the team came to me and said, ‘We’d like to win.’ It wasn’t very fun losing every game—and not just losing, getting blown out every game. So I said, ‘Okay, if you want to win, then you’ve got to do what the other schools are doing, which meant we’d mostly be playing Grade 12s.”
As such, there was a lot more focus on the senior players this year. Fulton said there were a lot of talented players on the Wolves, including two Junior B players and several Cloverdale Colt rep and house hockey players. The Junior B players were Max Kovach (White Rock Whalers) and Patrick Coopman (Langley Trappers).
The squad also carried two kids this year, both Grade 12s, that didn’t have a lot of hockey experience.
“Kyle Stodola has never played hockey before in his life,” explained Fulton. “He was a star volleyball player, but his buddies were the Junior B players, so they wanted him to come out and try hockey.”
He said Stodola was not the strongest player on the ice, but bonded with the kids and had lots of fun and fell in love with the game.
Another kid, Levi Touhey, had not played hockey since Atom, but was also a great athlete, playing competitive lacrosse.
“Getting back into hockey, Levi really enjoyed it, same sort of thing, was able to find a real love for the game again.
“Some really good success stories this year.”
The Salish hockey team had 30 kids registered, but they only dressed 20 per game. So players rotated and senior players, Grade 12s, got the lionshare of the nods.
The 2023 Salish Secondary School Wolves championship team consisted of: Aayan Chowdhury, Adam Bennett, Arisa Chowdhury, Austin Drummond, Cameron Stevenson, Carter Cons, Charlie Elash, Connor Wiggins, Connor Seter, Elijah Ford, Ian Burns, Jared Mackie, Jayden Laven, Jesse McCreath, JJ Copon, Jorel Johal, Kyle Stodola, Levi Touhey, Lucas Henderson, Manav Kajla, Max Kovach, Nathan Huynh, Nathan Sedlack, Nick Carek, Patrick Coopman, Sean Kerbrat, Sena Goto, Tino Johanson, Truman Porter, and Zarek Purewal with coach Fulton and assistant coach James Pawelchak.
“Everybody wanted to play in the final game,” added Fulton. “Unfortunately we could only put 20 people on the bench, but there were some other people that got in the team picture when the game was over and got to sit on the bench with us and enjoy the view.”
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