The Okanagan Nighthawks claimed silver on home ice at the Icebreaker Tournament over the Easter long weekend.
After advancing to the gold medal game with a dramatic 8-7 overtime win over the Okanagan Lakers, the Nighthawks fell to the Kootenay Avalanche 7-4 to finish second. Dexter Materi, Mathis Preston, Brodie Kennet, Liam Ruck and Will Mohns did the scoring for the Nighthawks in the final two games.
“It was a little bit tough to start, because we finished first in our pool so we had a bye,” said head coach Rod Kenney. “In some ways it makes it a little harder, because we didn’t have that extra game early in the season. We need those games to bond because we just started the season. It’s a blessing because we came first, but we probably could have used that game to work on some stuff.”
All of the players on the Nighthawks were born in 2007, and Kenney is impressed with the level of play from the team at such a young age.
“I think everyone was really impressed with the level of the play, especially the top four teams were all really good and really even,” he said.
Kenney was pleased with how well the team came together and how hard they worked so early in the season, and he believes they have a very promising team this season.
“The nice thing for us is that you want to find good competition, and right now we’ve identified that. There’s us, the Kootenay Avalanche, Okanagan Lakers and Kelowna Heat, all of those teams seem to be pretty even on any given night. That’s a good thing for our kids, because we need to be pushed in order to develop and get better. It’s nice to identify those teams, we have lots of games scheduled against them.”
Although the success of the tournament was bolstered by finishing second, Kenney noted one of the best parts of the weekend was watching the kids work hard, have constant smiles on their faces and have a lot of fun.