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

VIDEO: Walnut Grove Gators basketball team post win in opening round of provincials

Junior Boys Basketball Provincial invitational tournament features 32 B.C. teams, three from Langley

Junior Team Canada brings home gold to the Lower Mainland, again

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

Surrey-Langley curlers in the running again for gold

Junior men’s team out of Langley hopes to defend its world title Sunday, going up against Switzerland

VIDEO: Giants earn 40th victory in a 4-0 triumph over Victoria

Vancouver G-Men move within a point of clinching the B.C. division banner at Friday’s at-home game

Developers to unveil plan to transform Aldergrove mall into new town centre

Community to find out new Aldergrove Town Centre plan for dormant 10-acre lot in heart of downtown.

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Most Read