The Squamish Eagles Atom Rep team experienced the highs and lows of the sport of hockey back to back on Monday (Feb. 10).
Squamish lost 6-1 to the Merritt Junior Centennials in the finals of the first-ever SMHA Atom A tournament but the disappointment was only temporary as moments after the loss, the Eagles got to celebrate having won the regular-season banner.
It’s been a good season for head coach Derek Cranfield and his squad and he said making it to the finals of the tournament was another feather in his team’s cap.
“We stacked up really well all tournament long,” he said. “We only lost one game in the round-robin and obviously the final, but the team has played really well the last month or month and a half. We got hot at the right time and it’s nice for us to get a chance to play against some stiffer competition like we did in this tournament.”
The Eagles kicked off the tournament with a 3-0 win over the Semiahmoo Ravens on Saturday (Feb. 8) and also defeated the Mission Stars 5-2 on Saturday. Squamish lost 3-0 to Portland on Sunday (Feb. 9) but still finished first in Pool A.
Squamish then posted a 3-1 over the Cloverdale Colts to advance to the final and suffered the loss to Merritt, who didn’t lose a single game all weekend.
“We had a little bit of penalty trouble and they had some really strong players,” Cranfield said of the Centennials. “They’re a well-organized and well-prepared team.”
Ben Thompson scored the Eagles’ lone goal in the final, with assists to Marcus Hernandez and Aedan Loughran. Thompson was named the player of the game for the Eagles, while Merritt’s Breanna Ouellet picked up the honour for the Centennials.
Cranfield said the tournament was a success for the Squamish Minor Hockey Association (SMHA).
“From an association level, it was a great tournament and all seven out-of-town teams had a great time,” he said, noting he received lots of positive feedback. “David [Knight, SMHA tournament coordinator] did a great job organizing and everything ran smoothly.”
The regular season might be over for the Squamish Atoms but the playoffs will start in the coming weeks. This year’s team is the first to capture a regular-season banner since 2006 and will be the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs.
“For these kids to get a chance to win and come together like this is huge,” Cranfield said. “We’ve put a lot more focus on skill development as an association and it’s beginning to pay off.”
Squamish will play the eighth-ranked team in their division and after Round 1 it moves to round-robin tournament with the remaining four teams. Squamish will host the finals from March 7 to 11.
For more information on local minor hockey, visit www.squamishminorhockey.com.