Players from the Cowichan Valley and Kerry Park minor hockey associations helped the Island Outlaws to medals in a big spring hockey tournament on the Mainland last month.
The 2013 Outlaws won their age group and the 2011 Outlaws finished second in theirs in the Chilliwack Spring Kick Off, one of the first major tournaments to be held as hockey returned post-COVID. The tournament usually takes place in April, but was delayed several times because of the pandemic, finally taking place on June 18-20.
“The coolest thing was seeing the kids being able to play hockey again, like actual games instead of just practicing,” Outlaws manager Zahra Rasul said. “They worked so hard all year, kept their spirits and motivation up, and saw their hard work pays off with wins.”
For some perspective on how long it had been since competitive hockey had been played, the kids on the 2013 team had not only never played together, but had never played full ice hockey at all, according to manager Zahra Rasul.
“These were kids who barely knew each other just a couple of weeks prior to starting the tournament,” she said. “They bonded so well as a team, played amazing, and blew out their opponents in every single game.”
The 2013 Outlaws were an offensive juggernaut, scoring 44 goals in four games, 28 more than their closest opponent. The two Island goalies, both girls, let in just nine goals.
The season isn’t over yet for the 2013 team, which is gearing up for another tournament at the AAA level in Vancouver on the weekend of Aug. 20.
“We’re hoping for a repeat, and the kids are super excited to get together again,” Rasul said. “They will also look forward to seeing each other in their respective minor hockey associations during the regular season. How fabulous will it be for the kids to travel to different arenas up and down the island, seeing buddies from spring hockey.”
For the 2011 team, it was a happy reunion after spring hockey was cancelled in 2020. The 2011 Outlaws experienced plenty of success in 2019, their first year together, and were thrilled to be back together. In addition to Cowichan and Kerry Park, the players also hail from the Victoria area, Cedar, Nanaimo and Parksville.
“These kids, who come from all over the Island, have become close friends over the past couple of years of playing spring hockey together,” Rasul said. “Seeing them be able to get back together and achieve success was so great.”
It wasn’t just the kids who enjoyed seeing their friends again.
“Of course, the families had a great time as well,” said Rasul, who has boys on both teams that also play in Kerry Park Minor Hockey. “As a proud mother with boys on both of those teams, it was such an amazing experience to be able to socialize, travel to hockey tournaments again, stay in hotels, and see the kids have such a wonderful time. This is what youth sport is all about.”