Not at all intimidated by their surroundings, the bantam A Cowichan Valley Thunder beat the host New Westminster Salmonbellies twice last as they won their division in the highly regarded Hyack Invitational Lacrosse Tournament last weekend.
After beating the Bellies 6-3 in round-robin play, the Thunder faced them again in the tournament final on the Queen’s Park Arena’s legendary green floor, surrounded by a sea of blue, white and black jerseys. Nothing could faze the Thunder, who came away with a 5-3 victory and the gold medal.
"It was clear from the drop of the first ball that Cowichan was there to win gold and to show New Westminster, again, what Island boys were made of," Thunder manager Paula Harris said.
Gavin Spencer potted a pair in the final, while Isaac Tonkin-Palmer had a goal and an assist, and Brody Black and Caleb Nordstrom scored. Dawson Webb and goalie Colin Jeffrey registered assists.
"The team did both the Island and the Cowichan Valley proud with their performance and show of sportsmanship," Harris said.
The Thunder opened the tournament with a 6-5 loss to their Island rivals, the Peninsula Warriors, on Friday night, but settled in after that and never looked back.
Tonkin-Palmer and Denton Macdonald had two goals apiece against Peninsula, and Black found the net once. Webb had a pair of helpers, and Tonkin-Palmer, Nordstrom and Carter Bouma each had one assist.
Bouma, Nordstrom, Black and Rhys Mazurenko each scored in the Saturday morning game, a 4-2 win over Kamloops. Webb had another two assists, and Macdonald, Tonkin-Palmer, Kurtis Smith and Sam Baxter had one apiece.
On Saturday night, Jeffrey was perfect between the pipes and Black scored four times as Cowichan clobbered Nanaimo 8-0. Nordstrom added two goals and Macdonald and Spencer had one each. Jeffrey helped his own cause with two assists, matching Webb’s and Mazurenko’s numbers, while Spencer and Black each had one helper.
The Thunder closed out the round robin with the aforementioned 6-3 win over the host Salmonbellies. Tonkin-Palmer and Nordstrom each found the net twice, and Bouma and Mazurenko also scored. Spencer and Smith had two assists apiece, and Baxter, Nordstrom, Macdonald, Webb and Black had one each.
The bantam Thunder got back at Peninsula on Wednesday night in a regular-season game at the Cowichan Arena, winning 9-7 thanks to a pair of breakaway goals in the last four minutes.
The Thunder had just 10 runners available on Wednesday, while the Warriors brought 15, but Cowichan still prevailed for the fourth time in four regularseason meetings.
Nordstrom and Spencer both recorded hat tricks, Tonkin-Palmer scored twice, and Bouma had one goal. Nathan Clark had three assists, Jeffrey, Mazurenko and Nordstrom recorded two, and Tonkin-Palmer had one.