GTMHA teams prep for provincials

Trail hosts the Midget Tier 2 championship at the Cominco Arena starting Sunday.

Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association teams from Pee Wee to Midget will compete in B.C. Championships across the province over the first week of spring break with Trail hosting the Midget Tier 2 championship at the Cominco Arena starting Sunday.

After an opening banquet on Saturday, the Midget Tier 2 teams will hit the ice bright and early Sunday morning with the first game betweeen New Westminster and Cranbrook scheduled for 8 a.m.

The Greater Trail Tier 2 Midget Smoke Eaters won the Kootenay Zone in a playoff over Castlegar earlier this month, but by virtue of Trail’s hosting status, Castlegar will also compete in the tournament.

Nine teams will vie for top spot this year, with Trail playing in a pool with Kelowna, Saanich, Greater Trail, North Delta, and Williams Lake, while New Westminster, Smithers, Cranbrook and Castlegar round out the other pool.

Kelowna is widely considered one of the favourites, as the team led the Okanagan Minor Hockey Association (OMAHA) standings with 12 wins, one loss and three ties, while Trail went 4-9-3 on the season in the OMAHA league.

Trail opens the championship with its first game going against Kelowna at 11 a.m. Sunday followed by an evening tilt versus Williams Lake at 8 p.m. The Midget Smokies face Saanich on Monday at 8 p.m. and North Delta at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Playoffs start Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. with the final going at 8 p.m.

The Trail Tier 2 Bantam Smoke Eaters meanwhile will travel to Cranbrook to compete in the Tier 2 provincials, and will look to duplicate its victory in the Trail Tier 2 tournament in December, as well as its good play in OMAHA action this season. The Bantam Tier 2 Smokies finished second in the OMAHA with a 6-3-4 record, knocking off the top team in the league, West Kelowna, in the final of their tournament 5-3. The Bantam Smokies play in pool with Vancouver, Prince George, and will face nemesis Campbell River in its first game on Sunday. Other teams include West Kelowna, North shore, Cranbrook and Vanderhoof.

The Pee Wee Tier 2 Smokies will play for the provincial title in Prince George, after a respectable year in the OMAHA with a 10-8-0 record. Teams from Burnaby, Penticton, Campbell River, Port Moody, Cranbrook, Fort St. John, and Prince George will also compete.

The West Kootenay Bantam Wildcats will also compete in the provincial championship this weekend in Castlegar. The team, based out of Castlegar, has a number of Greater Trail players including Raven Atherton, Cali Piche, and Camryn Haines from Fruitvale, Tessy Brandt, Emma Caron, Elle Mayer, and Kady Stajduhar of Trail, as well as Eva D’Odorico of Rossland. The Wildcats finished atop its standings in the OMAHA league going an impressive 12-1-3 and will look for a good finish in the provincials this year. The Wildcats begin with two games on Sunday at 8 a.m. and again at 8 p.m. at the Castlegar Rec Complex against Surrey and Williams Lake, and will play Richmond at p.m. Monday, South Island at 8 p.m. Tuesday, and Kelowna at 1 p.m. Thursday. The championship game goes at 7 p.m. Thursday.