It’s no easy task to build a rep hockey team in Whistler. Like in many small towns, the limited pool of players for each age group can make it hard to put together a full house team some years, much less a more competitive rep team.
But this year the Whistler Minor Hockey League finally succeeded in putting together a rep team – one that was good enough to finish second overall in the entire province.
From March 12 to 15, the Whistler All Stars Bantam Rep team was in Lillooet, where they faced the top Bantam Rep teams from different leagues across the province. They had already won the regular season rep banner, even after being moved up three categories after blowing away their competition early in the season.
In Lillooet, the Bantams beat Golden 8-4, Revelstoke 10-3 and Lillooet 4-2 before meeting Beaver Valley in their last round robin game. They lost that game 10-8, but advanced to the playoffs.
In the semi-finals they beat Vanderhoof 4-3, before going on to face Beaver Valley once again. Whistler had the lead through the second period, but at last they started to get tired and Beaver Valley took over to win by a final score of 8-4.
The Whistler players earned a silver medal for their efforts, as well as bragging rights – it’s not that common for a community Whistler’s size to field the number two Bantam team in the entire province.
But while rare, Whistler’s success was no fluke but a culmination of circumstances that were a decade in the making.
The 2005-06 Whistler All Star Bantam Rep team began about 10 years ago when hockey dads Michael d’Artois and Brian Hurd met while their kids were just learning to skate. They started to co-coach their sons’ teams shortly afterwards, and managed to keep a core group of players together through the years.
This year’s team included that core group, as well as several players from last season’s Bantam C1 team, which went undefeated through 30 regular season and playoff games. Many of the players were also on a successful Peewee team in 2004.
"It’s really a very balanced team, from the goalies to the defence to the forwards, every player contributed in one way or another. One of our best skaters was injured with a broken hand, and others just stepped up into his role. We even had a kid who just turned 12 who was able to play with 14 and 15 year olds," said Michael d’Artois. "That’s the thing with a small community, sometimes you have to borrow a few younger kids in order to make a team, bring them up a little early."