The New Westminster Royals U15 A1 squad’s captured a provincial title after going 6-0 at the BC championships on the weekend.
Head coach Jeff Nottingham said the team’s entire Pacific Coast League U15 A1 season was planned with the goal of getting to the B.C’s.
“We played in a number of very competitive tournaments with higher ranking teams. That was just to prepare ourselves for the end result here,” he said. “We ended up being league champions, the regular season’s league champions.”
After finishing the season with 13 wins, four losses and three ties in league play, the Royals headed to the playoffs, where they won five games and lost one game to qualify for the provincials, held in Osoyoos last week.
“We played six games in total. We went six and 0, which was awesome,” Nottingham said of the provincials. “We were the only team to go undefeated.”
In the semi-final, the New West team played Mission – the team that had handed the squad its only loss in a regular season or a playoff game since Christmas.
“But we came out for the semi-finals and we really took it to them. We got up 3-0, and it ended up being 4-1,” Nottingham said. “It was quite an experience for the kids just to beat that team that they haven’t beaten, even though we only did play them once.”
In the finals, the Royals faced off against Trail.
“That game started a little rough,” Nottingham said. “They scored in the first minute of the game to go up 1-0. We just plugged away and played our style, let our players do their thing.”
New West tied the game and took the lead, holding a 4-1 lead heading into the last three minutes of regulation time.
“They pulled their goalie, got two goals. That made it kind of ‘Ahhh,’” Nottingham said. “We called a timeout, settled the kids down, and once they dropped the puck, in the last minute-and-a-half, they didn’t get another shot on goal. We held on for a 4-3 win and to celebrate the championship. It was awesome.”
Nottingham said the squad had four of the top five goal scorers and the top goalie in the provincials, which took place in Osoyoos. They won the gold medal on Saturday.
“It’s an amazing group of kids and parents,” said Nottingham, his voice choking up with emotion. “I know for myself, as a player growing up I won a few of these tournaments. I played Junior A hockey, I travelled every province in Canada – to give this group of kids this opportunity was very special.”
Team captain Oliver Nottingham led all players in the U15 A1 Tier 3 tournament with 22 points in six games, with 10 goals and 12 assists.
Mitchell Nash had 16 points (eight goals and eight assists), which was good for third place in tournament scoring. Gian Singh Virk had 15 points (six goals and nine assists), placing him in fourth for scoring and assistant captain Chase Van Dijk was in fifth with 13 points (11 goals and two assists).
With a 6-0 win record and a save percentage of 2.77%, New West goalie Joshua Narain ranked first among all goalies in the tournament.
Rounding out the team’s lineup are: Alexander Patrick Sy; Tom Bordian; Jack Phelan; Alexander Neil; Owen Iseli; Brady Schnurr; Aaron Sutherland; Harrison Diaz; Patrick Jessome; Benjamin Yu; Noah Thiessen; and Alexander Savoy.
Nottingham, president of the New Westminster Minor Hockey Association, said most of the players have played hockey together since they were nine or 10 years of age, with some having played on the same team since they began playing hockey. He said the team has won some tournaments and league championships through the years, but winning the provincials was the icing on the cake.
“It is an amazing group of kids and parents – I have to insert the words parents in there. ... It’s just a group that has come together over the past five or six years,” he told the Record. “The parents are 100% involved. They let the coaches coach and they be the parents, and they cheer and yell. It makes it easy for myself as the coach to deal with the group because the parent base is amazing. They just let us coaches coach.”
Joining Nottingham on the bench are assistant coaches Kevin Gray, Mike Narain and Evan Pattison. Mark Schnurr is the team’s safety person manager.