The host Yale Lions absolutely stole the show at the B.C. high school hockey provincials on the weekend, putting two teams on the podium.
Yale Blue won the title for the second straight year, beating the Earl Marriott Mariners 7-3 in the final on Sunday evening at Matsqui Recreation Centre.
Yale White, the school’s ‘B’ team, won bronze, and might have finished higher if they hadn’t run into their Blue brethren in the semifinals.
“We had tremendous depth,” noted Billy Wilms, program director for Yale’s hockey academy. “The B team really exceeded expectations.”
Jake Virtanen, the first overall pick in the Western Hockey League bantam draft by the Calgary Hitmen earlier this month, made a major impact for Yale Blue, scoring a pair of highlight-reel goals in the final. Mike Nolan also tallied twice in the title game, while Brendan Sharp picked up the win between the pipes.
“Jake was riding on a high from the draft, and he was dominant,” Wilms said. “This is a midget league, but we were allowed to bring up a few bantams. He proved he’s a dominant player, even playing against older kids.”
Netminder Alex Orth and forwards Bryce Pisiak and Curtis Sandhu were among the standouts for Yale White.
This is the second year of operation for BC Hockey’s fledgling high school league, and membership expanded from six teams to 20 this season.
“Next year, it’ll get even bigger,” Wilms predicted. “Interior teams want to get on board – they just need to make sure they have enough teams in their zone.
“The high school model has been really effective in Eastern Canada, we just haven’t seen it in the West, for reasons I don’t know. It gives kids a wonderful opportunity to represent their schools.”