The Burns Lake Bruins bantams and peewee teams have a lot to be proud of.
Both teams returned home from provincial championships with a win, putting Burns Lake firmly on the hockey map.
All eyes are now on Burns Lake as the teams to beat in 2012.
Not only is it an accomplishment to come home with one provincial championship, but the Burns Lake Minor Hockey Association are reveling in the fact that they have two … in the same year.
Bantams head coach Mike Skinner said it is certainly an achievement for both teams.
Skinner, along with assistant bantams coaches Cole Minger, Johnny Janzen and Lee Strizich, as well as team members Jordan Minger, Justin Dougall, Jarrett Stanyer, Logan Gray, Cory Fehr, Cody Bardarson, Matthew Skinner, Brian Little, Pierce Hofer, Brandon Strizich, Greg Redwood, Josh Janzen, Shawn Wilson, Kenny Cassidy and Tyler Havens went into the provincials as favourites.
Skinner said this is because the majority of the team also won the provincial competition two years ago as peewees.
“We knew we had a quality team going in to the competition,” he said.
According to Skinner the tier 4 team [hockey tiers are based on the size of the community, tier one being a team from a large community down to tier 4 a small community] played a number of games against tier three teams this season to challenge themselves.
Skinner also said the bantam team went through the league games undefeated this season, including winning a playoff banner, a zone banner and the provincials in Mackenzie.
“Burns Lake has won five provincials in the history of the Burns Lake Minor Hockey Association, one was in the 1980s, one in the late 1990s and one was the peewees two years ago, three wins in three seasons is pretty remarkable,” he added.
As a coach, Skinner said he is very proud of his team, not only on the ice, but off the ice as well.
“We have a number of determined and dedicated players on our team and we are blessed with really talented players. The pressure was on us to repeat [the peewee provincial win two years ago]. It was a different tournament for us as we were not the underdogs this time, we were the favourites going in and it was ours to loose,” he said.
“We have a great [bantams] team with unbelievable kids there were never any problems with discipline during a tournament or at training,” Skinner said proudly.
Peewee coach Kenny Worthing said his team travelled to their provincial competition in Chetwynd as the underdogs.
The team consisted of Ryan Skinner, Brock Worthing, Brandon Havens, Kian Strimbold, Mitchel Martens, Logan Archer, Dawson Bjorgan, Curtis Brown, Bryce Gray, Malkolm Thomas, Blaine Worthing, Spencer Brown and goalie Jamie Ferguson.
“We were not the favourites to win, but we won the league banner, the zones and the playoff banner as well as the provincials,” Worthing said.
He went on to say that this year the peewee team was limited to just 11 to 12 players, which made up the entire team.
“The peewee team was short players so they brought two younger affiliated players to provincials; Spencer Brown and Blaine Worthing . The affiliated players didn’t get much ice time, but when they were on the ice they did an excellent job,” he said.
According to Worthing the team won five tournaments in a row this season, two of these were in overtime, one was a shoot out and the provincials went into double overtime. “Loosing is not in their vocabulary, they always found a way to win, they just wouldn’t accept loosing. This is the first time ever that Burns Lake has had two teams win in the same year. This is a huge accomplishment for a small town,” he added.
Worthing said that the Kelowna team thought they were a sure thing to win the provincials so it was a big upset for Burns Lake to pull through with the win. “The gold medal game was tied 2-2 after regulation and then we played a 10 minute overtime which settled nothing. We were about five minutes into the second overtime period when Ryan Skinner scored for Burns Lake. The kids were ecstatic, they were throwing their gloves up into the air like they had won the Stanley Cup. There were many tears shed in the stands too,” he added.
Peewee mom Sue Ferguson said, “We played our whole season with only one goalie which is very unusual. If anything had happened to Jamie [Ferguson] we would have been in big trouble.”
She said that when the medals were being given out on the ice, the announcer said he wanted to acknowledge the Burns Lake team won the championship game with only nine skaters and a goalie. “In that game, we played with only three defense men and six forwards. This was incredible and our boys played their hearts out,” Ferguson said.
“In five games Jamie only let in eight goals. In the final game against Kelowna, Jamie made two very hard saves with only 12 seconds left in regulation time to send the game into overtime,” she added.
Peewee team mom Tamara Bjorgan also said the tournament was a success.
“From the beginning of the tournament, I think we were seen as the underdogs. The Burns Lake team had the smallest bench and I don’t think anyone expected our team to make the gold medal game, except of course the Burns Lake parents.”
“It was such a great experience watching our boys in the final. The team from Dawson Creek were sitting in front of us leading the chants for Burns Lake. The Golden players were also there cheering for us and high fiving our players as they carried the banner around the ice when it was presented. It was a proud moment for all of us,” she said.
Bjorgan added, “I think it’s important for the community to know that both teams represented our community in a positive way. We heard a lot of great comments from the various communities that were represented about how well behaved and polite our boys were both on and off the ice. This community has been so supportive and to everyone who donated money, bought pizzas, fire wood, donated empties and simply wished our boys the best, these two victories are for you too.”
“These two teams were truly ambassadors for Burns Lake and the gold was the icing on the cake. This was an experience that players and parent alike will never forget,” she added.