It was a dominant performance on home ice from start-to-finish for the South Delta Storm.
The A1 rep team is B.C. Hockey’s U18 Tier 2 provincial champions for the second straight year after a perfect four-day run at the Ladner Leisure Centre.
The Storm blanked the Cloverdale Colts 4-0 in Wednesday night’s gold medal game in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Ladner Leisure Centre.
It was the host’s sixth straight win of the nine-team tournament that saw them outscore their opponents 35-8 in the process, including 10-0 in in the final two playoff games.
A year ago in Campbell River, the run to gold was unchartered waters for an association that has only made a handful of provincial tournament appearances over the past decade. This time, the expectation from day one was returning to the top of the podium thanks to a solid core of returning players and some impressive talent coming back to play with their long-time friends again.
The end result was the Storm being highly competitive as the lone Tier 2 team in Pacific Coast Amateur’s top flight for regular season play, then rolling through the playoffs.
“I’ll be honest with you. I have been thinking about (repeating) since we were in the ferry line-up last year (coming home from Campbell River),” said South Delta head coach Ken Priestlay. “I know we had a good team with lot of people coming back. It was only a matter of just trying to figure out who else would fill the roles of those departing third-years. The guys that did come back, with the rest of the third-years and our first-years, played exceptional. It really was a true team effort.
“We wanted to make sure we were the (team to beat) as the host and the champions coming out of it. It didn’t take long for this group to figure out that they had some talent, but it took a little bit longer for them to all play together. Once they got it, they were unbeatable.”
It was one of the key newcomers that set the tone in the gold medal game when Johnathan Milne opened the scoring midway through the first period. The former Delta Ice Hawk finished the championships with a team-leading 16 points, including five goals.
Fletcher Lucas and William McColman added to the lead 52 seconds apart and the suddenly-reeling Colts needed to call a timeout to re-group.
The three-goal cushion was more than enough for workhorse goaltender Brady MacDonald who would go on to record his second shutout of the day after South Delta’s earlier 6-0 semi-final win over Penticton.
Milne’s twin brother Zachary rounded out the scoring in the late stages of the second period. It was the Storm’s third win over Cloverdale this month after a 7-1 romp in the Pacific Coast Final Four playoffs then a 3-1 triumph in round-robin play last Sunday. The Colts slipped past the Sea-to-Sky Bears 3-1 in the other semi-final match-up as Pacific Coast teams dominated the championships.
Priestlay expected a big turnout for the gold medal game and his hometown didn’t let him down.
“Ladner supports Ladner things. When we said that we were going to host this we knew it was going to be a special event,” added Priestlay. “It was a special night for a bunch of young kids that have emerged themselves in this sport for so long. Our (graduating) players got to go out playing in front of basically a filled arena. It was a lot of fun and a great atmosphere.”
The Storm championship roster includes:
Roster: #31 Brady MacDonald, #1 Sam Weinstein-Smith, #2 Owen Turpie, #4 Jacob Jones, #5 Hayden Clisby, #6 Thomas Denney, #7 Jack Callow (A), #8 Mathias McDonnell, #9 Johnathan Milne, #10 Owen Venier (A), #11 Tej Simms, #12 Thomas Cowan, #13 William McColman, #16 Zachary Milne, #19 Kai Sloan (C), #88 Fletcher Lucas, #91 Cameron Trolland, #96 Dominic Dumas, Jacob Jope.
Head coach: Ken Priestlay
Assistant coaches: Tony Marra and Bennett Stoilen
Team Manager: Bobbi Venier