The Fraser Valley Thunderbirds are off to Calgary on Dec. 25 for the prestigious Mac’s Midget AAA hockey tournament. Submitted photo

Fraser Valley squad spreading its wings, heading to prestigious Calgary hockey tournament

Thunderbirds major midget hockey team enter elite tournament with just one loss in past 11 games

The Fraser Valley Thunderbirds faced a must-win game.

The Thunderbirds — with a depleted line-up and with just one point in their past five games — were sitting in sixth place in the BC Major Midget Hockey League and the cut-off was approaching to see which five teams from the league would earn invitations to the prestigious Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament in Calgary.

The team responded with a huge 7-2 road victory in Prince George against the Cariboo Cougars, who at that point were sitting in first place. And since then, the Thunderbirds have gone 10-1 to climb into third place in the league at 16-6-1-1.

“That (victory) was a big turning point,” said Fraser Valley first-year head coach Peter Hay.

“At the end of the day, it was one of those things where we went through that adversity and then bounced back.”

This marks the first-time in the Thunderbirds’ 13-year history that the team has been invited to the Mac’s tournament.

This marks the 40th year of the tournament with 33 teams hitting the ice in both the male and female divisions. As well as teams from North America, there are also entries from Belarus and Hungary.

Qualifying for the competition was one of Hay’s pre-season goals for the squad as he knew they had the talent.

“But you never know how it is all going to connect when you have multiple parts, with team chemistry and everything,” he said. “I think our team is really coming into a whole other level right now.”

The Thunderbirds — made up of players from Langley, Aldergrove, Maple Ridge, Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Hope — boast two of the league’s top scorers as Gage Goncalves (Mission) is third with 17 goals and 47 points in 24 games while Justin Plett (Abbotsford) is eighth with 21 goals and 34 points in 22 games.

Fraser Valley boasts strong offensive depth as they average 4.7 goals per game.

In addition to Goncalves and Plett, the team’s offence has been buoyed by recent addition Matthew Konrad (Abbotsford). In eight games, he has nine goals and 19 points.

The goaltending has also been strong, allowing 3.1 goals per game. That’s even more impressive when considering the team is primarily going with Dawson Pelletier (Hope) who has played 17 of the 25 games with his goaltending partner Alex Rolfe (Langley) on the shelf with injury.

Defensively, Will Dow-Kenny (Abbotsford) is averaging a point per game on the blue-line with four goals and 16 assists, and the addition of Travis Halladay (Chilliwack) has helped solidify the position. The six-foot-two, 220-pounder had played in nine games with the Langley Rivermen.

The team is coming off back-to-back victories over the weekend, 6-3 and 6-1 over the Vancouver Northwest Giants, which stretched Fraser Valley’s winning streak to six games. The team resumes league play on Jan. 12.

They fly to Calgary on Christmas Day and the tournament begins Dec. 26.

“For us to have the option to go to a world renowned tournament is a huge, huge step in the right direction for this program and for these kids,” Hay said about playing in such a heavily-scouted event.

“It opens a lot of doors for our kids with the opportunity to be seen by these scouts and maybe get an opportunity to play junior A in Alberta or Saskatchewan if BC Hockey or Western Hockey doesn’t work for them.”

“(And) talking to other teams that have had the experience, they all are saying this Mac’s experience actually gives them that jump start into the next half of the season.”



sports@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Mission’s Gage Goncalves — the BC Major Midget Hockey League player of the month for November — leads the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds with 47 points in 24 games. Trent Rolfe photo

Langley’s Jacob Wright has played 17 games with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds an an affiliate player, registering four goals and eight points. Trent Rolfe photo

Langley’s Matthew Tyszka mans the blue-line for the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds. Trent Rolfe photo

In 21 games this season, Langley’s Carter Anderson sits third on the team with nine goals in 21 games. Trent Rolfe photo

Just Posted

WEATHER: Langley weekend weather forecast

A break from wet weather expected

Willowbrook gift wrap centre in Langley all for charity

Proceeds to benefit Heart and Stroke Foundation

Wildlife groups express concern animal-trap-related injuries are on the rise

Langley’s Critter Care Wildlife Society had nine cases in 2017, 15 in 2018, and 21 this year

WHAT’S IN STORE: Langley City getting its sparkle on tonight

From 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 a number of downtown merchants are holding a shopping party

Hallmark-famous Santa makes one last stop in Aldergrove

Keith Alton’s 50th year as St. Nick continues on Friday (Dec. 13) at Aldergrove pierogi shop

VIDEO: Langley’s newest high school officially opens

A brief ceremony Thursday morning allowed all the players involved in new school to celebrate

Surrey’s new top cop doesn’t believe residents have lost faith in the RCMP

Brian Edwards will take over the reins of Canada’s largest RCMP detachment on Jan. 6

RCMP at Maple Ridge school over threat left in washrooms

Written notes found in three bathrooms

B.C. Crown corporation immune from taxation, but may still have to pay GST: court

British Columbia Investment Management Corporation may still be on hook for GPS payments

‘He was good for the West:’ Sadness, surprise in Saskatchewan over Scheer

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his predecessor, Brad Wall, both thanked Andrew Scheer

Travellers know little about air-passenger rights, Canadian poll suggests

The first set of passenger-rights rules landed in mid-July and the rest this weekend

Johnson claims Brexit mandate with new conservative majority

Conservative Party wins 365 seats in the House of Commons

Most Read