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Mission edges host Nelson in final of the BC Hockey Bantam Tier 3 Championship

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
March 22nd, 2018

There’s no doubt from the play of the Nelson Leafs during the BC Hockey Bantam Tier 3 Championships that one day many of these players will follow in the footsteps of the likes of NHLers Danny Gare, Pat Price and Dryden Hunt.

However, one thing missing will be a BC Hockey Bantam Championship.

The Leafs played their hearts out, only to fall 2-1 to Mission Stars in the Gold Medal final of the BC Hockey Bantam Tier 3 Tournament Wednesday at the NDCC Arena.

Mission scored all the goals they would need in the first period, then rode the stellar netminding of Joe Kuchaslo to capture the win.

“The boys left it all out on the ice,” a disappointed Leafs head coach Pete Quinn said following the game.

“They won with dignity and most importantly, lost with dignity.”

All the scoring came in the opening frame.

Gavin Gill and Ethan Self scored to give Mission the early lead before Kaleb Percival, who was rock solid on the Leaf defence all game, cut the lead in half a few minutes later with a low shot from the blueline that somehow found the back of the net.

Then it was up to the goalies to steal the show as both Kuchaslo and Nelson netminder Joseph Surina were unbeatable through the remaining 50 minutes of the game.

The Leafs had an edge-of-your-seat chance to tie with only a few minutes left in the third, with the Stars down a man, but simply couldn’t find the net. Shots on goal were 23-20 in favour of Mission.

Nelson had gone 5-0 in the tournament with wins over the Terrace Kermodes, Penticton Vees, Powell River Kings, Dawson Creek Canucks and the Sunshine Coast Blues.

Powell River took the bronze with a 3-2 win over Penticton. Terrace won the Fair Play Award.

Tournament co-organizer Sandy Boyd says the tourny was a resounding success, well attended throughout the four days.

“We had teams like Sunshine Coast and Terrace stay an extra day because they enjoyed the tournament and town so much,” says Boyd. “We got a lot of help from a lot of people.

“The entire event went smoothly and I think folks sincerely enjoyed themselves. I heard a lot of people say the event was a heap of fun. And the hockey was high level.”

Nelson Minor Hockey has three times won the BC Bantam Championship.

In 1969, paced by NHLers Gare and Price along with other key stars, Captain Dale McMullin, Wayne Naka and Allan Macleod, defeated rival Trail, Kimberley, Prince George and provincial power North Shore Winter Club to capture the provincial crown.

The feat was duplicated in 2000 when Nelson Leafs coach Sean Dooley, Geoff Kinrade of the Kontinental Hockey League led the Heritage City to the Bantam AA title and again in 2009 when Dyden Hunt, now a member of the Florida Panthers NHL organization, paced Nelson to the Bantam Threes Title.

For the Leafs, their silver medals signify a fine end to a superb season in which the club captured the West Kootenay Hockey League Their Three title, reached the finals in every tournament they played in, and won the Penticton Tier Two Tournament earlier this month.

“It was an absolute pleasure coaching such a talented and committed group of young men,” adds Quinn. “I’m proud of them.”

— with files from Darren Davidson

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