Luke Bertolucci was at the Beaver Valley Arena on Monday night as the Beaver Valley Nitehawks saluted him for his part in Team BC’s hockey gold at the Canada Winter Games.

Luke Bertolucci was at the Beaver Valley Arena on Monday night as the Beaver Valley Nitehawks saluted him for his part in Team BC’s hockey gold at the Canada Winter Games.

Canada Winter Games – Bertolucci recounts golden journey

Some words of warning and a little adversity lifted B.C. to the top

Luke Bertolucci still couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.The 15-year-old Montrose native was welcomed home Monday night by hockey fans prior to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks’ playoff game, who cheered his success at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax.Bertolucci was part of Team B.C.’s male hockey team that captured gold last Friday with a 7-4 win over Quebec.It was the first male hockey gold medal for the province since 1979, well before Bertolucci was even born.However, the magnitude of the accomplishment wasn’t lost on the young hockey player.Bertolucci has won provincial titles in minor hockey and captured numerous tournament titles and has attended a Western Hockey League cams but he said this tops them all.“It’s not even close. It was incredible.”A journey that began almost a year ago with the Kootenay zone camp, culminated with 20 See FRIENDS, Page 11FROM PAGE 11elite young hockey players with gold medals draped around their necks and ear-to-ear grins.“We didn’t even sleep that night,” recalled Bertolucci, who admitted he kept his medal around his neck throughout the night.The Canada Winter Games tournament saw Team B.C. finish the round robin with win, a loss and a shootout loss to Quebec.After a day off, the team reeled off a quarter-final win over Manitoba and a semifinal win against Ontario to set up a rematch with Quebec.Meanwhile, the Quebec team came into the final with a perfect 5-0 record including three wins by shootout.Bertolucci said Team B.C. worked on its shootouts a lot, before and during the tournament, but when Quebec battled back to tie the game at 4-4 with six minutes to play, the boys knew they didn’t want to roll the dice in the shootout against such a red-hot team.“We knew we couldn’t go to a shootout. We had to end it. It added some pressure but in a good way.”There were also some words of enlightenment from teammate Josh Connolly between the second and third periods.Connolly’s brother, Brett, was a member of the Canadian world junior team that saw a 3-0 third-period lead evaporate in the world final against Russia at the beginning of January.“So Josh made sure he told us, ‘We can’t be doing this. I don’t want to follow in my brother’s footsteps.’”Team B.C. scored two late goals and added an empty-net marker to touch off a celebration that reverberated even back in Bertolucci’s home region.His Facebook page was filled with congratulatory messages from friends, classmates and teammates.“It was overwhelming,” he said. “It was really nice to see all my friends supporting me.”Of course his parents, Sheila and Gerry, were on hand for the celebration in Halifax.“All the parents got to come down after the game and get pictures with us and the gold medals.“It was a once in a lifetime thing.”