The Sea to Sky Bears U18 A1 team has come off to a strong start this season, winning The Battle in the Valley tournament in Kelowna.
Head coach Michael Borrelli said the team went undefeated 5-0 during the event, which ran from Oct. 28 to 30.
Borrelli added that six of the Bears were recognized among the Top 10 scorers for the event.
Jaxon Kearns took first place. Kieran Rice was tied for second. Daunte Glover and Noel Harper tied for 6th. Brady Reed and Charlie McLatchie tied for 9th.
To get the team on the winning track, Borrelli said that training was key. One aspect of the team’s regimen that particularly stood out was strength and conditioning training with local mixed martial artists.
Borrelli said the athletes enlisted the help of The Sound MMA gym. Under the watch of local fighter Jamey-Lyn Horth Wessels, the team underwent a strenuous conditioning program.
The hard work has paid off, Borrelli said.
“There’s no drop-off when it comes to conditioning,” he said. “Our guys can play hard for three full periods. And we’re essentially just playing teams very hard, very physically, and we’re just wearing them out. And they just can’t deal with that.”
Borrelli added that skills coaches’ input has also made a big difference.
Mack Gray has been sharpening players’ craft, while Matt Korchmar has been guiding goaltenders.
“Everything that we’re encompassing as far as the preparation, the effort the boys are putting in the on-ice, the off-ice skills, the off-ice dryland has really helped us early on in the season,” Borrelli said.
He also said it was a pleasure to watch the group bond as a team over the weekend, which was a large part of their success.
Building team chemistry was the biggest part of the weekend, Borrelli said.
Outside of the tournament, the team has finished its placement game and will be moving to Flight 2 for the regular season.
The next step, Borrelli said, is laying plans now that the team has a better idea of which groups they will be facing.
“Those are teams that we’re going to be playing, coming into the playoffs, so it’s going to give us a really good opportunity to assess our opponents [and] build plans around teams that we’re playing,” he said.