Blues win league banner, start playoffs at home

Staff writer
February 7, 2014 01:00 AM

The Midget Rep Blues celebrate winning the league banner Sunday night at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre. The Blues open the playoffs at home this Sunday at the Sunshine Coast Arena in Sechelt. Face-off is set for 5:15 p.m.

The Midget Rep Blues came into the final week of regular season play knowing that they had to be nearly perfect if they were going to win the regular season title.

Aldergrove and Whistler both had a slight lead in the standings, but the Blues had a game in hand. They needed to win out and collect all of their sportsmanship points to clinch the title.

The Blues opened their week on Jan. 29 against Seafair.

After recovering from a slow start, the Blues entered the third period deadlocked at two. Despite carrying the play, the Blues just couldn't solve a very good Seafair goalie. Then with about two minutes left to play, captain Tyler Graham wired a laser shot into the top corner and the Blues looked like a good bet to win.

However a lost faceoff in the closing seconds led to a seeing-eye shot that pin-balled past the Blues goalie. The tie game, combined with the sportsmanship point, meant they still had a shot, but needed some help to win the banner.

An early morning trip to Delta to play Semiahmoo on Saturday was up next.

Once again the Blues were plagued by a slow start, but with a pair of goals by Nolan Caldwell and singles from Nick Shoji, Conner Peers and Tyler, the Blues held a commanding 5-2 lead entering the third.

Semiahmoo had no quit in them and scored a couple of late goals, but the Blues ended their comeback efforts with an empty net goal to claim a 6-4 win.

The Blues then got the help they were looking for as Aldergrove won their game, but failed to collect the all-important extra point for sportsmanship. So the task at hand was simple -win and play clean and the banner was theirs.

However the Burnaby Bulldogs had other ideas and played the Blues very tough on Sunday night.

After giving up the first two goals, the Blues fought back with a power play goal from Austin Clarke, then another power play blast from Therin Hemstalk found the back of the net and things were looking up.

Burnaby scored a power play goal of its own just before the end of the period and held a 3-2 lead.

The Blues scored early in the third on Therin's second of the game and peppered the Bulldog keeper, but it wasn't until late in the period that Austin banged home his second on a wild goalmouth scramble.

Still the Bulldogs pressed and Blues goalie Ethan Hutton had to make a sparkling save in the dying seconds to preserve the win.

The win clinched the league banner and makes the Blues the top seed for the playoffs, which get underway this Sunday, Feb. 9 at 5:15 p.m. at the Sunshine Coast Arena in Sechelt.

Sunday's game ended a whirlwind schedule for Tyler, who played a gruelling 10 games in 12 days after representing the Sunshine Coast at the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association's Scholarship Tournament.

Although Tyler's team placed fourth, he had nothing but positive things to say about this event.

- Submitted

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