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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

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 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

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

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

Bad weather this year could catch Langley’s homeless without enough shelter space due to COVID-19 concerns. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley needs new site for Emergency Weather Response shelter

COVID distancing concerns have maxed out existing shelter spaces

Township of Langley firefighters were called to a crash Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 where the lone driver of a pickup truck damaged a water main leaving Trinity Western University without water. (Curtis Kreklau/Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Pickup severs pipe in Langley, leaves TWU without water

Incident involved a single vehicle, driver treated for minor injuries

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Government drives up cost of affordable housing

An Ottawa developer digs into building costs after reading about Langley’s new affordable housing

Tabor Village took to social media on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 to share what it meant to them to have Langley Lodge staff visit and provide support. As of Tuesday (Dec. 1), the outbreak at Tabor had resulted in a total of 147 cases and 19 deaths since Nov. 4. (Tabor Village/Facebook)
Langley Lodge shows ‘solidarity’ by visiting staff of B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak

As of Tuesday, Abbotsford facility recorded 147 cases and 19 deaths since Nov. 4

Chris Veale, seen here at Brookswood Secondary School on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, has been coaching girls basketball for more than 20 years (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Coach Chris Veale backs his players

When the gym closed, this dedicated basketball coach found another way

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon (Dec. 3) after an inmate escaped from corrections officers. The man was taken back into custody a short while later. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
UPDATE: Prisoner shot at by guards in Abbotsford had history of escapes

Stephane Bissonnette escapes from corrections officers, but is arrested a short while later

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read