The Bantam Thunder came back from a 4-1 deficit in the final game of the provincials to win an exciting 6-5 victory over Terrace and take the banner.
“It shows the character of the group when it’s 4-1 in the second, then 5-1 in the third and they don’t
drop, they go harder,” Brian Kozak, the Thunder’s head coach, said.
Though the score by the end of the second was lopsided, the play was anything but.
“It was probably the highest tempo game we played all year,” Kozak said.
Though Quesnel scored first, Terrace
got some lucky bounces in the first two periods that managed to get by Brady Powell, Thunder’s goalie.
While at the other end the Thunder couldn’t manage to finish, including an empty net opportunity that slid wide of the mark.
Terrace’s fourth goal late in the second period, netting a three point lead for the Terrace team, got to Quesnel.
“You could see our guys went down a bit psychologically,” Kozak said.
But the lull didn’t last beyond the second period.
The team regrouped in the dressing room between periods and in the third they came out of the gate strong, and despite an early goal
by Terrace to put the score at 5-1, nothing fazed the Thunder.
Jessie Roach was the first to step up
for the Thunder in the third period. Three minutes into the third, not one minute after Terrace seemed to nail Quesnel’s
coffin with their fifth goal, Roach managed to slip one by the Terrace goalie and open the floodgates for his team.
He followed up with two more goals, scoring every shift he was on for three consecutive shifts, giving Roach a hat trick.
Capitalizing on that momentum, Brayden Dale scored his second of the game to tie the game at five.
Finally, with just under three minutes in the game, Keith Redden broke the tension by splitting the defense and scoring the go-ahead-goal.
The Thunder were in great condition for the tournament and were able to play solid hockey, never slowing the pace, even in the last period of a grueling tournament. It’s this conditioning that kept them in the final game.
“Terrace just tapered off condition-wise and we just dominated,” Kozak said.
It was this conditioning that Kozak credits for getting the team through a grueling tournament, including
two, two-game days and another comeback against a three-goal deficit earlier in the tournament..
The Thunder played admirably, managing to get through the tournament with a 6-1 record that was unmatched by the other 10 teams in the tournament.
“The kids were fantastic,” Kozak said.
The grueling tournament, and tenth-hour comeback, relied on the dedication the team brought to practicing and keeping their conditioning up for the duration of the season.
“Right from the start of the year they were willing to do what needs to be done,” Kozak said.
That willingness translated into extra ground training for the year, and extra ice time before the tournament to make sure they were in top condition.
The Thunder gelled as a team early on in the season. It’s this teamwork that has buoyed them since the very
beginning, and which Kozak credits for allowing the team to come so far.
“They came together as a team and believed everyone would do their jobs,” said Kozak.
In the playoffs that resulted in a
team that didn’t have to rely on one
or two stars or a single line of scorers.
“Everyone contributed,” said Kozak.