There’s an old cliche in sports: It’s not how you start but how you finish.
The Sooke Girls Midget C Thunderbirds hockey team proved that true Sunday after winning its third Island championship in three years.
The Thunderbirds won the last four gamnes of the regular season – all must wins – to qualify fior the playoff tournament in Parksville last weekend.
Saturday’s semi final opponents were Sooke’s longtime rivals from Juan de Fuca.
JDF finished first in the regular season and likely didn’t anticipate the steam roller they were about to face.
Sooke jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead and was ahead 5-3 after two.
The Thunderbirds continued their domination of the regular season champs in the third period and closed out an 8-4 win.
The victory was bittersweet as one of Sooke’s top scorers, Alyssa Lloyd, was injured with 16 minutes left after sliding awkwardly into the boards.
The game was delayed for approximately 25 minutes while Lloyd lay motionless on the ice, awaiting an ambulance. Fortunately her X-rays were negative, but she was unable to play in the championship game due to neck and back injuries.
Kailee Purnell had three goals for Sooke while Desiree Cumming and Olivia Carello scored two each. Hailey Dimock added one goal and four assists.
In Sundays championship game, Sooke faced thrd place Campbell River, who upset second place Triport 4-2 in the other semifinal.
Sooke came out flying with a goal in the first minute when Carello brilliantly tipped in a beautiful cross ice feed from Dimock.
The game then became extremely tight with both goalies playing very well.
Campbell River scored the only goal of the second period, so the whole season came down to the final 20 minutes.
As she has done all year, Dimock came through with the go ahead goal with 12 minutes remaining off a nice setup from Desiree Cumming.
The final minutes were wild as goaltender Selena Madill was absolutely brilliant.
A late penalty to Sooke allowed Campbell River to pull its goalie and finish the game 6 on 4, but Madill and her penalty killers refused to allow the tying goal.
Sooke defence pairings of Jaime Lafontaine and Alison Sudlow along with Leah Zschau and Victoria Sutherland were simply amazing all weekend.
Graduating seniors Jasmine Kumar, Jaime Lafontaine and Hailey Dimock finished their three year Midget careers with two regular season banners and three playoff championships.
Solid performances were turned in by the entire team, which also included Kaitlin McKelvey, Chevy Alexander, Sydnee Ogden-Moore, Kaylee Peaker, Jessica Graham and Hailey Olejnik.
Head Coach Peter Faulkner would like to extend a huge thank you to assistant coaches Julie Lafontaine and Kaarina Swinburnson and manager Mickey Kokura for all their help this season.