They’re going to have to make room in the rafters at Oceanside Place as it’s been a banner year for Oceanside’s hard-charging Midget C girls Icebreakers hockey team.
The local squad ran the table on their regular season, finishing tops in the standings in their VIAHA eight-team league unbeaten at 13-0-1, and as such played host to their playoffs over the weekend.
“They’re actually really fired up,” Icebreakers’ assistant coach Marissa Jordan chuckled moments before her team took to the ice Saturday. “They want this.
That they did.
Led by head coach Mike Squire, the Icebreakers, who were presented the banner for winning the league title prior to the start of Saturday’s game, opened the four-game single knockout showdown with a well-played 4-1win over the fourth place Nanaimo Clippers, then clinched their second banner on Sunday with a thrilling 3-2 win over their rivals from Comox in the final.
As has been the case so many times this season the Icebreakers road to victory in both games was paved by way of a swarming forecheck — first on the puck and committed to the player to getting shots on the opposition net.
“We really stressed that this weekend,” Jordan, a trailblazer for girls hockey in these parts that has taken to coaching like a duck to water, said after, confirming the team knew going into the year end showdown that being undefeated meant they had a target on their backs.
“For sure. The other teams were grinding . They want to win, so when you’re a team that wins a lot it’s easy to sit back on your heels, get a bit cocky I guess you could say, and as a coaching staff we really stress about moving their feet, about getting excited about playing. It’s playoff hockey, and the other teams want to win, really want to beat us — you just can’t let ‘em.”
Sunday afternoon’s final she confirmed, “was a tough fight. It’s a pretty big rivalry between us and them.”
Comox had beaten Oceanside a couple times in exhibition action over the season.
“It was a really well-played game,” she said, adding “as a coach I really push smart hockey, and this week they just did a phenomenal job of figuring it out on their own, and they executed everything. This team as had a lot of potential all year and they’ve come a long way,” she said, confirming “it was very rewarding, especially today (Sunday). As coaches we didn’t go with big speeches or anything, we just told them set the tone that other teams can’t keep up with, and today they went out there and they did it.”
Playing their final season with the team and doing their bit to make their swan song something special was the Icebreakers’ starting goalie Maddy Meyer, d-girl and team captain Shayna Twamley, and forward Addy Abdurahman.
On Sunday in the final against Comox, Oceanside led 1-0 after the first and took a 2-0 lead into the final frame.
D-girl Robynn Olson opened the scoring nearing the midway mark of the first period with a hard slapper from the point. Bantam Icebreakers call-up Payton Bray buried a rebound off a point shot midway through the second and speedy centre Erin Murdoch, 17, scored the game winner with about six minutes remaining when she walked out from the boards and buried a shot over the goalie’s shoulder.
“She’s a phenomenal skater,” said her coach, adding “Erin goes hard every game, and she definiltey generates a lot of offence — she been our top scorer this year.
“It was pretty back and forth for the last bit — they pulled their goalie with about a minute and a half left (but) our girls had an extremely strong finish. Comox didn’t even get the puck in our end because the girls were pressuring them so much.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Jordan said when asked about her team’s success this season (they were presented the banner for winning the playoffs after Sunday’s game), adding “they’re just a great bunch of girls, and as a coach it makes you feel like you’ve done someting right.”
The 2013 Midget Girls Island champion Icebreakers are in Cowichan this weekend for an eight-team tournament then close out their season in Richmond the following weekend at the big annual Richmond Ice Classic female hockey tournament.