Spring hockey tourney draws 154 youth

James Clarke

Oceanside Place has been tournament city the past couple weeks with the younger players taking to the ice for the last time this season.

A combined tourney for two age groups, last weekend marked the third and final Oceanside Minor Hockey Association (OMHA)spring tournament, and featured 154 boys and girls in two different divisions with three local teams in the Initiation (5-6 year olds) division, and four in the Novice (7-8s) — the Wild, the Canucks, the Canadians and the Flyers.

On Sunday the Flyers stormed back and came within seconds of pulling off the thrilling comeback win in what many said just may have been the best game of the tournament.

In action against the Campbell River Bears, the Flyers were trailing 4-2 at one point and were down 5-3 when their MVP Kobe Verbicky took matters into his own hands and streaked in to score two goals in 26 seconds — both off assists from Brodi Simpson — with less than a minute remaining.

The Bears would score off a scramble in front of the Flyers net with 18.6 second left in the game for the 6-5 win, but the smiles on the Oceanside players faces as they left the ice to the cheers and high-fives of family and friends said it all.

“It was a great game, a really good way to end the season — the kids had a really good time,” Flyers’ coach Craig Simpson said after.

He added every player got a participation medal and a tournament goodie bag including a Zamboni toy and free hot dog and drink.

Each team played four games spread out over the three days.

“There sure was,” Simpson agreed when asked about all those outstanding efforts.

The Flyers, who won two of three heading into Sunday’s game, showed no quit.

“We certainly have some standout players but it’s the team play, the passing and coming together as a team that we’re most pleased with.Their skating skills definitely improved as the season went on.”

Earning props from their coach for their play was Denen Scott who scored a goal and earned Best Hustle honours, and Aidan Mailhot who also scored. Caleb Armitage also had a strong game moving the puck, as did Anson Gorman, and Nathan Wilson who anchored the defence. Flyers’ goalie Koen O’Connell was stellar in the second half to keep his team in the game.

All the coaches and parents he said “are really proud of their team play.”

On March 20-22 OMHA held it’s year-end Atom tourney featuring a full field of 10 teams from as var away as Sooke and North Island and including three local squads — the Red Wings, the Snipers, and the Blazers who finished fourth.


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