After 60 minutes of end-to-end hockey, it took a goal in overtime to secure the win for the Vancouver NW Hawks on Friday.
In the BC Elite Hockey League’s first U18 AAA showcase of the season, the third-place team (13-7-2-0) beat out the top-spot Greater Vancouver Canadians (18-2-1-1) in a morning game at Karen Magnussen Arena in North Vancouver. The Hawks organization draws players from the Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky, North Shore and North Burnaby.
Caleb Gray scored the first goal, with assists from Dexter Hanna and Cooper Wilson. The second was scored by Owen Brennan, with assists from Rylan Oatman and the team’s top goal-scorer David Yoon. Oatman scored the game-winning goal, with assists from Yoon and Zach Wilcox.
There was also a strong performance from goaltender Joshua Ravensbergen, who was instrumental in the Hawks’ last win over the Canadians on Sept. 25.
Hawks general manager and U18 AAA head coach Matt Samson said the showcase is a good opportunity for teams from out of town to travel to different communities. It’s also a time for the players to be seen by scouts and coaches from higher levels.
“We hope all our guys are being looked at,” he said, noting that a couple of his players are affiliated, which means they can go off to practice and play with junior A teams.
One player that’s getting significant interest is goalie Ravensbergen, who hasn’t lost a game this season.
“He’s big, he’s athletic. He moves super, super quick,” Samson said, adding that Ravensbergen has a great attitude and work ethic – all qualities scouts look for.
Samson explained that players in his position will decide if they want to play college hockey, in which case they would play in the BC Hockey League. Otherwise, depending on the offers, they could decide to play professionally in the Western Hockey League.
The year isn’t over for the Hawks yet. After returning to practice next week, they’ll have Christmas off. But on boxing day they ship out to Calgary for the Circle K Classic (formerly the Mac's tournament), which runs until Jan. 1.
Joined by the top three U18 BCEHL teams, and one wildcard, they will join a total of 32 teams in one of the top tournaments for their level of hockey in North America. Samson said Circle K puts on a first-class event, where the players are treated like college and professional athletes.
“There’s lots of scouts there,” Samson said. “These guys get experience, and an opportunity to showcase themselves and play under a pretty big microscope.”
Game action continues tonight at Karen Magnussen where the Okanagan Rockets face off against the North Island Silvertips, with puck drop at 7:15 p.m.. The showcase concludes Sunday with three games: Fraser Valley Thunderbirds play Cariboo Cougars at 9 a.m., Valley West Giants square up against Thompson Blazers at 11:45 a.m., and Okanagan Rockets face North Island Silvertips at 2:45 p.m. in their second of two weekend matches. All games are free admission.