The Sooke Midget A Thunderbird boys brought home the Island League Tier 3 championship banner after defeating Juan de Fuca in a tense second game of the best of three at Bear Mountain arena on Saturday, March 5.
The Sooke boys focused on a strong start and two early goals by Tom Kirk (Cole Navarrete) and Keltan Chandler gave them an edge.
Propelled by this momentum, Derek McDougall got two more goals (Tyler Smith, Navarette and Zack Tucker). At the same time, Nick Dueck deflected whatever JDF managed to shoot at his net and Sooke headed to the dressing room for the first intermission with a 4-0 lead.
For the first half of the second Sooke held back the offence and worked to protect its lead. JDF got its first on a power play at five minutes into the second. With this confidence boost, JDF kept the pressure on throughout the second and they took full advantage of three more power play opportunities.
Their break came during a five-minute penalty for Sooke when they scored twice within a few seconds.
Now within one, JDF kept up the pressure. But Sooke’s forwards, who had been hovering closer to their own net, easily swung back into offensive mode. For the rest of the second period and most of the third, the tension was high as the game moved from one end of the rink to the other with each team taking shots. Dueck rose to the challenge, not letting anything get into his net.
With four minutes left in the game, Bradon Senft scored for Sooke (Navarrete and Jordan Barber) putting the win another goal away from JDF’s reach. As the final seconds ticked down, the crowd exploded into cheers, with gracious applause from the JDF parents, fans and players.
Following the game, Island League Midget Managing Director Jim Humprhey presented the championship banner to assistant captains Zack Tucker, Keltan Chandler and Ryan Litoski. The Sooke boys are now focusing on fundraising for the trip to Cranbrook to compete in the Provincial championships March 20-25.