18 games in four tournaments, and it took 5 periods in Princeton before the South Okanagan Storm finally lost a game. The Princeton Bantam Rep tournament was held at the Corral on the weekend and 8 teams from Creston, the Okanagan and Greater Vancouver fought hard for the right to be crowned champion.
Princeton’s Tristan Vandermeulen, Parker Thibert and Mike White all play for the Storm. The weekend was a chance for the three to show off their skills at home for the first time in a long time. They took advantage of the opportunity, and all three showed their stuff, while winning their first three games to advance to the final.
Vandermeulen had a pair of hat-tricks in the tournament, and led all scorers. His short-handed goal in the final shifted all the momentum in the game and for a while it looked like the Storm was going to win it all. Eventually it was the Kelowna Rockets that would win the tournament in the fifth period of the final. A breakaway goal at 17:35 in Double OT gave the Rockets a 3-2 win.
Thibert banged and crashed his way through all four games. His puck handling and determination were evident on every shift. He was constantly knocking opponents off the puck, blocking shots and putting everything he had into the game.
White was part of a four person defensive line that only gave up four even strength goals the entire weekend. He spent the weekend breaking up rushes, clearing the front of the net, and starting offensive rushes from behind his own net.
On its way to the final the Storm ran over West Vancouver (8-3), Mission (6-3), and Creston (8-1). The team led the tournament in scoring and goals for and against.
Overall, the Storm now boasts a 24-4-4 record. With two league games left now the focus shifts to the play-offs.
“We need to keep improving”, said Vandermeulen. “We can go a long way in the play-offs if we work hard, every shift.”
Thibert echoed the thought, “We have played well in tournaments, now we need to focus on our last games, and bring the same effort to the play-offs.”
White added, “It was great to come home and play for everybody. Being back in the rink, seeing friends in the stands was pretty nice. I am just sorry we couldn’t win it all.”
All three wished to thank Princeton Minor Hockey for hosting the event and giving them the opportunity to play at home again.
The Storm is on the road again next weekend. Their final two games are against West Kelowna and Kelowna. Play-offs begin a week later.