It was a season the U13 Blues won’t soon forget.
The U13 Sunshine Coast Hockey Minor Association team finished off an exceptional season by placing fourth in the provincial championships last week.
Back at Thanksgiving, the team – of 11 and 12 year olds at that point – got off to a roaring start, going undefeated in their first of two tournaments this season, bringing home gold from Coquitlam.
“That was the telltale sign that we might have something pretty good here,” said the association’s director of hockey operations Brad Wingfield.
During the regular season, a season marked by the ups and down of COVID and ever-changing spectator regulations, they went 17 wins, two losses and one tie.
“Last year was really, really hard on all the kids, not being allowed games and all that,” said Wingfield. “There was always in the back of our mind that that could happen again.”
Thankfully, while there were rules around spectators, the kids got to play all of their games, though tournaments were cancelled.
In the playoff run, the U13s won all three games, to earn a place in the Lower Mainland’s tier three Final Four tournament. They won all three of those games – including against the very strong team from Mission (which the U13s hadn’t defeated Mission in the Final Four tournament in a decade) – and went on to win the tournament and secure a spot in the provincial championships for the first time since 2016.
The kids got a week off and then headed to Trail, B.C. last week to compete. They went on to win all five games in the round robin but in a rematch against Mission in the semi-finals, the Blues lost their first game in nearly four months.
A bitter 3-2 loss in the 8 a.m. final the next morning saw the exhausted team come in fourth place in the tournament.
“I think now they appreciate or they understand what they have done. But at the time, it’s pretty tough,” said Wingfield.
But just getting to the provincials was special. “We talked about [that],” said Wingfield. I hope as these kids get a bit older, they realize that this might only happen once in a lifetime.”
Wingfield also thanked the exceptional coaches and safeties Chris Croteau, Brad Wing, Chris Bell, Blair Hurlbut and manager Kendra Bell.