The Island Outlaws display the bronze medals they won at their first-ever spring hockey tournament last weekend. (Rachel Beggs photo)

The Island Outlaws display the bronze medals they won at their first-ever spring hockey tournament last weekend. (Rachel Beggs photo)

Outlaws make statement in first spring hockey tourney

2011 team takes bronze in brilliant debut

The upstart Island Outlaws made a splash in their first-ever spring hockey tournament, taking bronze in the 2011 division at the BC Mayhem AA Tournament in Coquitlam last weekend.

The Outlaws went 2-2 in the round robin, then lost their first playoff game before beating the West Kelowna Junior Warriors 8-3 in the third-place game.

Gus Steeves scored three goals in the battle for bronze, John Main and Luke Boersen had two apiece, and Liam Hussey added one, while goalie Julien Dupras made 15 saves in the win.

While some of their opponents come from organizations with years of history, and even their 2011 teams have been playing together for two years, the Outlaws have only been together eight weeks, and the Mayhem tournament marked their first time playing full-ice, regulation hockey.

“This program came together due to the lack of spring hockey programs available locally for our boys,” team manager Chander Sharma explained. “Some dads came together and between us we made it happen and we named our team the Island Outlaws. There is so much talent in the Valley and the only choices available are to take the kids to Vancouver, or find a spot from the limited available in Victoria or Nanaimo.”

The Outlaws won their first two games, beating West Kelowna 7-5 and the UBC Junior Thunderbirds 8-2. They lost to the eventual gold-medallist Fraser Valley Sturgeon Blue 6-5, then fell 5-4 to the silver-medallist Fraser Valley Kings to close out round-robin play. The last two pool games were decided with 12 seconds and 1:02 left to play, respectively. They lost 7-6 to the Kings in the semifinal before soundly defeating West Kelowna again for bronze.

“Parents from all over were complimenting us on our talent and gameplay and were completely shocked to learn this was a brand-new program and we had only been together for eight weeks and played only two previous games,” Sharma reported. “There was even a bit of controversy after we beat UBC as the parents were of the belief that we were a AAA team and did not belong there.”

Next up for the Outlaws is the BC Quest for the Cup tournament in Burnaby on May 31-June 2.