On Jan. 20, the Nakusp Midget Rep Falcons travelled to Cranbrook for what would be their final out-of-town tournament of the season, and for nine of the boys, their minor hockey careers.
The team decided to go out with a bang, outscoring their opponents 45-16. Falcons opened up the weekend with a 7-4 win against Golden. Goals were scored by Connor Reimer, Nathan McInnes, Zach Friedenberger (2), Jacob Balske and Dylan Hascarl (2). Assists were awarded to Friedenberger (2), Devlin (3), Balske (2), Reimer and Hughes.
On Saturday morning, Falcons were matched up against the Redcliff Grizzlies. Redcliff managed to put one goal past each goaltender Josh Rivers and Cam MacPherson. Falcons filled the visitors’ net, scoring 14 goals. Goals were awarded to Balske (3), Friedenberger (2), Hascarl (3), Hughes, Volansky, Reimer, Cordingley, McInnes and McCoy. Assists were given to Hughes (3), Volansky, Reimer (2), McInnes, Balske (2), Bateman (4), Hascarl (2), Nishida (2), Devlin (2), Kylie Carson and Streliev.
Saturday afternoon did not see the competition get any stronger. Falcons again outscored their opponents, Red Deer, by a score of 11-2. Goals were scored by Max McCoy (2), Cordingley (2), Bateman, Hughes, Reimer, Hascarl, Volansky, and Balske (2). Assists were given to Volansky (2), Bateman, Hascarl (4), Friedenberger, Balske, Streliev and Cordingley. The win secured them first place standing in their division and a spot in the semi-final game on Sunday morning.
The semi-final game was against Okotoks. Falcons opened the scoring just 18 seconds into the first period when Nathan McInnes found the back of the net on a pass from Zach Friedenberger. Devlin put two in the net during the second period with the assists going to McCoy (2) and Nishida. Dylan Hascarl sealed the deal on a pass from Bateman and the Falcons took the 4-0 victory, and advanced to the finals.
The final game was against the home team, Cranbrook Ice. Nakusp scored first just 90 seconds into the first period on a point shot from Jade Streliev, assisted by Devlin. Cranbrook then had four unanswered goals in the first period, and with just one minute left in the first, Falcons slightly narrowed the gap on a goal from McCoy, assisted by Nishida. First period ended with the Falcons being down 4-2.
Falcons started the second on a mission to score goals, and that they did. Two minutes into the second period, A.J. Hughes scored, unassisted, and Balske followed that up with the assist going to Bateman. Cranbrook got two more goals ahead in the middle of the second but Falcons again tied the game at six a piece with goals from Hascarl and Balske. Bateman got the 7-6 go-ahead goal late in the second, unassisted. Second period ended 7-6.
In the middle of the third period, Cranbrook put two more in, but Dylan Hascarl tied the game, 8-8 and sent the game into overtime. Three minutes into the sudden death overtime period, Kellan Nishida put the puck in the back of the net, unassisted, to win the game 9-8 and take home the first place trophy.
Falcons are now preparing to play their final league games, one against Castlegar and two against Grand Forks in hopes of hanging one more West Kootenay League Banner at the Nakusp rink. Once that is accomplished, Nakusp will be hosting the Provincial Tier 4 tournament from March 18 to 25 with six visiting teams from across the province.