The Rossland-Trail Minor Hockey Association’s (RTMHA) 12-team Pee Wee Tier 2 and 3 tournament wrapped up a successful weekend with the home team coming close against their Okanagan Mainline division rivals.
The RTMHA Tier 2 final came down to a goaltenders’ duel at the Cominco Arena on Sunday but unfortunately the Rossland-Trail team was outgunned, losing 2-1 to the Penticton Jr. Vees.
“We played five games, and five tough hockey teams that we played against,” said head coach Leroy Huestis. “It’s always a battle, and we had a couple guys go down, but the other kids picked up the slack and it was a total team effort and I’m very proud of the kids that just put that effort in.”
Penticton’s Kiver Heintz finished a pretty 2-on-1 passing play to put the Vees up 2-0 with 5:50 to play in the third in what would prove to be the winning goal.
Trail replied less than a minute later when Derek Green took a pass from Ross St. Jean and buried it over the right shoulder of the Vees puck stopper Shane Farkas to cut the lead to one but as he did all game, Farkas would shut the door.
The Penticton goalie stymied R-T’s shooters time and time again, including stopping a penalty shot midway through the third period to hold onto a 1-0 lead.
Rossland-Trail’s Aidan Browell earned the penalty shot after being hauled down on a breakaway. Browell swept in looking to deke but Farkas came out with a poke check that forced R-T’s sniper to backhand it wide of the net.
R-T’s Josh Ballarin also shone for the home side, making several huge saves to keep his team in the game.
The Vees got on the board midway through the second when Jordan Schulting beat Ballarin on a screen shot.
Despite getting their chances, the R-T Pee Wees couldn’t beat Farkas who made a great glove save off a deflection in the final minutes of the second frame.
“Our goaltender played well last game, our goaltender played well today but their goaltender also played awesome. It’s a matter of a couple lucky breaks here and there,” added Huestis. “They got two and we got one and that’s the end of the story.”
Rossland-Trail Tier 2 team finished third in the round robin with a record of 2 wins and 1 loss. They dropped their first game to Spokane 6-3, but came back with wins against Castlegar, 12-1, and Westside, 4-1.
Penticton and Kelowna tied for top spot with 2-0-1 records but Penticton was awarded first place due to goal differential. Trail then played Kelowna in the semifinal, and backstopped by more good goaltending by Michael Schlender, took the match 4-2. Unfortunately injuries would hurt the squad, with Ryan Profili suffering a broken arm in the Kelowna game and Christian Macasso forced to leave with a head injury after taking a crushing hit from Vees forward Raphael Bassot.
The Rossland-Trail Tier 3 team came fifth in their division with a win and two close losses to Kelowna and Creston.
Whitehorse edged Nelson in a thrilling Tier 3 final, scoring an empty net goal to make it 6-4.