With faces smeared with paint and hearts pounding, the Pup Warriors battled their way through an intense final game at Valley Ball Hockey Associationâ€™s annual wind up held at the George Preston Recreation Centre on Saturday, June 14.
The Warriors were up against a Valley Stars team that was unbeaten in the playoff round and held an impressive 17 goals for and four goals against going into the championship game.
Before coming into finals, the Warriors, who were unbeaten in regular season, faced the Snipers in semifinals on Monday, June 9.
The Snipers, who also had a perfect playoff record and pummelled the Warriors 8-3 in the playoff round two days earlier, fell 4-3 to the Warriors in their semifinal rematch, thus clearing the way to finals.
â€œWe learned our lesson last Saturday, and knew we had to come up with something new,â€ Warriors head coach Craig McDougall said. â€œThe boys played with so much heart and incredible energy on Monday. They knew the competition they were up against and what was on the line.â€
Saturdayâ€™s final Pup game was a nailbiter for both the Warriors and the Valley Stars as the game went into overtime with the score deadlocked at 1-1.
Several minutes later, the Warriors delivered their final blow, earning the title as the 2014 VBHA Pup champions and securing a spot in this weekendâ€™s provincial ball hockey tournament in Victoria.
â€œThe boys worked so hard to earn this opportunity. The games were getting tighter and tighter as every team got stronger as the season went alongâ€ said Dwayne Ostheidt, the Warriors assistant coach. â€œI am so impressed with how quickly our team came together and how committed each player is to each other.â€
McDougall said that for many of the Warriors, this was their first year playing ball hockey, and this was his first year coaching a ball hockey team.
â€œTo have a great set of kids to work with is one thing. But making it to provincials is icing on the (cup)cake,â€ McDougall said.
The Warriors are heading off to Victoria this Thursday, June 19 to face off against Pup teams from Tri City, Richmond, and Victoria in round robin play, in hopes to land a spot in semifinals and finals to be played on Sunday, June 22.