Grand Forks Atom teams snagged two of the top five places in their tournament last weekend. The Grand Forks Grizzlies hockey team placed second while the Grand Forks Bruins hockey team finished fifth in the Grand Forks Atom House Hockey Tournament at the Grand Forks Arena.
Running Jan. 7 to 9 and hosted by the Grand Forks Minor Hockey Association, the tournament featured the Nelson Millionaires, the Spokane Rangers, the Nakusp Falcons, the Beaver Valley Eagles, and the two local teams - the Grizzlies and Bruins.
The Grizzlies finished first in Pool A with a 2-win, 0-loss record, while the Bruins finished with a 1-win, 1-loss record, in Pool B.
The Grizzlies then went on to play the Falcons for a shot in the finals, while the Bruins went on to play for fifth or sixth place. The Bruins ended up routing the Spokane Rangers in their third and final game, 16-4, to finish fifth.
The Grizzlies took care of the Falcons in their third game, 5-0, to get a shot at the tournament title against the Millionaires - a team they defeated in round-robin play 3-2 in their first game of the tournament.
Nelson ended up beating the Grizzlies 5-2 in the rematch to win the tournament while Grand Forks finished second.
Unlike in their first meeting, the Millionaires controlled the game right from the start, outshooting the Grizzlies 17-3 in the first period and 39-19 overall, which ultimately ended up being the difference in the game.
Following their second place finish, Grizzlies Head Coach Darryl Turner explained that he thought his team became a little complacent playing a team they had beat earlier in the tournament.
“Nelson outworked us and they made up for the loss,” said Turner. “Nelson elevated their game, while our team didn’t”.
While the Grizzlies were unable to make it two tournament first-place finishes in a row, after winning a tourney in Summerland a few weeks earlier, Coach Turner says there is a lot of good to come out of the loss to the Millionaires.
“A team learns how to win by losing. It shows us that when we play teams that are of similar talent we need to elevate our own game to win,” he added.
Beyond this past weekend’s tournament, both the Grizzlies and the Bruins continue their West Kootenay Atom House play with their season closing out at the end of February. The Grizzlies currently sit in fifth overall in the league, while the Bruins sit twelfth of the 16 teams in the league.
The Hustler of the Game Awards for the players of the games in the tournament for each Grand Forks team were:
For the Bruins: Ryan Steinbach, William Vautour, and Dawson Thomas.
For the Grizzlies: Zachary Coupland, Zachary Donovan, Kaeden Freer-Lane, and Tyson Soobotin.