It has been a quiet 2 years for tournament hosts and hockey lovers all around as COVID shut down tournament play. Kids still practiced and played hockey, Zambonis still hummed and cleaned the ice but without spectators and cheering and chanting Go Team, it just wasn’t the same.
This past weekend all of that changed and the community was abuzz. Nelson Minor Hockey hosted a U11 Tournament welcoming 7 other teams from around the region, including Castlegar, Trail, Grand Forks and Kelowna.
The tournament was played in our two rinks, the NDCC which is our local Recreation Centre and the Civic Arena, our pride and joy, steeped full of history, it is the oldest functional ice surface in BC! Coaches around the region loved the nostalgia of the Civic and the spectators braved the cold, put on their warmest mitts, wrapped themselves in their coziest blankets and cheered on the players.
A total of 20 games were played between Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon! This year Nelson U11 is made up of two teams, the Kootenay Koyotes and the Nelson Yetis, both of which competed in the tournament. The Koyotes started the tournament with a loss but they came surging back and won 2 out of their next 3 games, finishing the tournament in 6th place! They never gave up and gave it their all against every opponent.
The Nelson Yetis finished in 3rd place and found themselves vying for a spot for the Gold Medal Game. They beat out the Trail White Lightning team on Sunday morning by a score of 4-3 to secure themselves a spot in the finals. There, the unbeaten Castlegar Team awaited them. The Final Game was full of anticipation, it was a rematch. The Nelson Yetis’ only loss in the tournament was to the Castlegar Rebels and they wanted a chance to beat them.
The NDCC arena was pumping, the seats were filled with nervous and excited parents, grandparents, neighbours and friends. Most of the other teams stayed to watch the final game. The entire Koyotes team stayed to cheer on the Yetis!
The Final Game did not disappoint. It was the battle between the pipes and a tight game. The game was tied 3-3 with 51 seconds left in the 3rd period when Castlegar found a way past the Yetis goalie and scored to make it 4-3! Castlegar clinched the gold medal with an assurance goal in the dying seconds, to make the final 5-3. It was not the finish the Yetis had hoped for but they held their head high wearing the silver medal proudly. Congratulations to Castlegar on their gold medal win! Trail White Lightning came in and beat out the Grand Forks Grizzlies in a show stopper and a come from behind to win 3rd place.
The Kootenay Koyotes recognized the following players as their Players of the Game throughout the tournament:
Kaiden Shoniker (goalie)
The Nelson Yetis recognized the following platers as their Players of the Game throughout the tournament:
But it wasn’t all hockey all weekend long. Volunteer parents of Nelson Minor Hockey put on a display of beautiful raffle tables filled with baskets from our many sponsors. Our 50/50 had 5 different winners with the pots ranging between $87 to $112! Volunteer parents kept the coffee, tea and hot chocolate going throughout the tournament to keep everyone warm and sold snacks and goodies! All in all the tournament raised over a $1000 for Nelson Minor Hockey thanks to parent volunteers and community support!
We had an outpouring of love from those who came to our city to play and said that they had the best time and they can’t wait to be back.
The kids had an amazing time and it makes the early mornings, endless days and nights at the rink all worthwhile when you see the smiles on those faces when they tie up those skates and hit the ice!