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West Kootenay Avalanche emerge victorious in two spring tournaments

“The result was a perfect spring season and lifelong friendships for the boys,” says coach Adams.
The 2023 West Kootenay Avalanche completed a perfect spring hockey season on May 14. Photo: Submitted

Submitted by Jason Vaillencourt

The 2023 West Kootenay Avalanche spring hockey season (2010 birth year team) completed a perfect season on May 14, defeating the New Western Bruins Academy (Vancouver) in a shootout (2-1) in the West Kelowna Warriors Wine Country Classic Tournament.

It was the tenth win in ten tries for the Avalanche and their second championship win in the past month, having defeated the Sharpshooters Academy (Langley) in late April in the Kelowna Heat Blast Tournament.

The West Kootenay Avalanche Spring Hockey Program dates back to the mid-1990s when the program was introduced and focused on giving minor hockey players from the Kootenay region an affordable opportunity to play spring hockey at a higher level against teams from Vancouver/Kelowna/Kamloops.

Alumni of the program include players who have played in the WHL, BCHL, KIJHL, Division 1 college hockey and Bowen Byram from Cranbrook, winner of the 2022 Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche.

Coach Deke Adams who has been coaching in the Avalanche program since 2014 said, “It was an honour coaching this team. These boys really came together quickly as a family and bought into what we were teaching. This will be their first official season of body checking so we taught them how to protect themselves and how to deliver proper checks.”

The boys also adopted the founding principles of the West Kootenay Avalanche program — commitment, character and dedication to their teammates.

“The result was a perfect spring season and lifelong friendships for the boys,” Adams said. “Coach Matt Swankhuizen, Coach Darren Fowler and I are extremely proud of them.”

The West Kootenay Avalanche 2010 birth year team was assembled with players from seven minor hockey associations across British Columbia and the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington.

The team assembled on April 8 for training camp in Fruitvale, and trained throughout the month leading up to participation in two tournaments where they prevailed victorious in both.

Players included, Tyler Adams (Spokane Jr. Chiefs), Easton Ames (Spokane Jr. Chiefs), John Aiken (Trail Jr. Smoke Eaters), Liam Barker (Kimberley Jr. Dynamiters), Slade Barrault (Kimberley Jr. Dynamiters), Oakley Dickinson (Nelson Jr. Leafs), Easton Fowler (Trail Jr. Smoke Eaters), Eli Fricke (Trail Jr. Smoke Eaters), Duncan Giroux (Nelson Jr. Leafs), Ethan McLachlan (Castlegar Rebels), Gavin Memmott (Spokane Jr. Chiefs), Preston Oler (Cranbrook Jr. Bucks), Rawley Ortman (Trail Jr. Smoke Eaters), Hudson Swankhuizen (Trail Jr. Smoke Eaters), Cole Taylor (Nelson Jr. Leafs), Brit Thorne (Spokane Jr. Chiefs), and Owen Vaillancourt (Portland Jr. Winterhawks).