The Creston Valley Minor Hockey Association’s peewee Chiefs hosted and won the East Kootenay banner tournament on the weekend at the John Bucyk Arena, with six teams attending.
On Friday, Chiefs beat Elk Valley 4-0. The locals came out a little slow, but Elk Valley was ready to play from the get-go. It was a well-played game with only two penalties called, the Chiefs got on the board with five seconds left in the first period with a goal scored by Davis Nelson assisted by Serge Chatwin and Kale Plotnikoff. Ty Gudjonson scored the lone goal of the second period with Nelson assisting. With two minutes left in the game, Shayne Walker scored an empty netter assisted by Brayden Jellis and Matthew Phillips helping. Plotnikoff rounded out the scoring with a goal with at 0:46.
Also on Friday, the Chiefs took on Glacier, winning 11-0. The Chiefs came out and dominated from the get-go. Leading the way were Plotnikoff with five goals and an assist, Jellis with a hat trick, and Nelson with four assists. There was a lot of passing, and everyone chipping in with points and playing structure makes games a little bit easier.
In the semifinal on Saturday, the Chiefs shut out Invermere 5-0. Chatwin scored 10 seconds into the game, assisted by Matthew Hills and Plotnikoff, which set the tone for a great start. Then, 37 seconds later, Logan Rast assisted by Jellis and Tyson Steed made it a quick 2-0 lead for the boys. Also scoring for Creston were Plotnikoff assisted by Gudjonson and Nathan Griffioen, Gudjonson unassisted, and Hills assisted by Phillips. It was probably the Chiefs’ best start to a game this season — playing from the front gave them confidence and allowed them to relax a bit.
In Sunday’s banner final, the Chiefs defeated Cranbrook 4-2. Cranbrook woke Creston up early with a goal a minute-and-a-half into the game, and the Chiefs responded 32 seconds later with Plotnikoff scoring a huge goal to tie it up — a great response from one of Creston’s leaders. The Chiefs added two more in the first period, with Plotnikoff getting a hat trick, assisted by Nelson, Gudjonson and Jellis. Hills scored in the second assisted by Chatwin and Walker, and Cranbrook added a late goal to make it 4-2. The locals ran into a few penalties late in the game for an exciting finish, but it was a good test and the Chiefs handled the pressure very well.
With the Chiefs being back-to-back East Kootenay champions and also undefeated for two years in league play, the banner remains home in Creston. The coaching staff is very proud of this team. Their commitment, structure and determination makes it a special win and they deserve all the credit — they always give 100 per cent and never complain.
On Sunday, the Chiefs defeated Cranbrook a second time, in zone game 1. It’s always tough to come out after a banner win and play the same team again, this time for zones and seeding for provincials to be held in Creston in March, since both clubs are attending. It was another good test for the team to shift its mindset and realize it’s the best-of-three playoff format — they are still playing for the right to be zone champions. Cranbrook led 1-0 after the first and that’s all they would get. Rast tied the score in the second period, assisted by Plotnikoff and Steed, then took the lead with Gudjonson scoring assisted by Etienne Boutet. Cranbrook pulled their goalie late in the game, and with a great breakout with 34 seconds left from Creston’s end, Chatwin assited by Plotnikoff and Jellis iced it for the home team and a one-game lead. Games like these will help the team provincials — it takes heart, effort and an overall team game to be successful.
Zone game 2 runs Friday in Kimberley and game 3, if needed, is Sunday in Creston.
—CRESTON VALLEY MINOR HOCKEY ASSOCIATION