The Regulators from Port Hardy proved victorious in the Thunder Men's Ball Hockey Tournament held in Port Alberni March 18 to 20.
Thunder threw everything that it had at the men’s ball hockey squad from Port Hardy, but the Regulators stood firm and denied their hosts top honors in last weekend’s tournament held at Maht Mahs gym.
It was the largest ball hockey tournament in the history of the annual event organized by Thunder of Tseshaht. Fourteen teams gathered March 18 to 20 to compete in a sport that is intensely fast-paced and physical in nature.
The Port Hardy team wasn’t the only one that hailed from outside Nuu-chah-nulth territory that took some hardware. The Kuper Island Bombers also showed well, taking third place. With Thunder coming in second, the fourth place team was the Eagles, also of Tseshaht.
Thunder came into the final match-up tired, having just played the semi-final against the Bombers for the advance. The lopsided score of 10-1 did not reflect the fight the Bombers put up in the 40-minute game. The lone Bombers’ goal came at 15:04 in the second half and dashed Thunder’s shut-out dreams.
Ball hockey, at least the style that was played in Thunder’s ball hockey tournament, is a series of bone-crushing body checks, wicked end-to-end slap shots, and aggressive corner skirmishes.
The first 20-minute period in the final was dominated by Port Hardy, with three goals coming at the 17:37 minute mark, at 4:44 and 3:31. Thunder was finally able to answer with their own goal as the period came to a close with double zeros on the clock.
Thunder’s second goal came in the first 15 minutes of the second period (16:32) and they tied up the game at the 12:19 mark.
A fracas around Thunder’s net saw a Regulator’s goal waved off and a Thunder penalty called. The Regulator fans howled their displeasure that Thunder player Josh Fred had intentionally pushed the net out of position. The Regulators would not be denied that fourth goal however. They took back the lead at the 9:27 mark.
Thunder tied it up again on a powerplay at 7:14. But the seesaw battle continued with a Regulator’s goal at 6:30.
Tensions were running high with just three minutes to go in the final, and for the next two minutes it was war on the floor with the Regulators determined to put Thunder away.
In the final minute of play, the Regulators took one more goal to clinch the game, but Thunder refused to go down without a fight, pulling the goalie in the final seconds to take advantage of the extra man. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, and the Regulators scored the seventh and final goal of the match ending the tilt with a 7-4 victory.
Tournament organizer Les Sam thanked all the teams for coming out to make this year’s tournament the largest ever. It featured a lot of close games and lots of fun in the process.
Tournament All-Stars were Morgan Hassel (Eagles), Travis Brown and Lyle Brown (Bombers), Jason Jensen, Richard Sam and Josh Fred (Thunder), plus Corey Swain, Shelby Cockell and Eddie Walkus (Regulators).
Most Inspirational Player was Frederick Cook (Thunder), whose speed and grit just couldn’t be overlooked. Top Goalie was Buddy Walkus of the Regulators. Top Scorer with 16 goals was Eddie Walkus (Regulators). Eddie Walkus also received the nod for Most Valuable Player.