Although summers on B.C.’s south coast are all-too-short, a hardcore group of summer hockey players that have been together as a team for nine seasons has been making the best of its time on the ice.
This is the last summer for the Whistler Mountain Rangers, a group of 17 and 18 year old local players who have been entering tournaments since they were eight and nine years old. They entered three tournaments as well as the Ultimate Spring Hockey League, racking up an impressive record of 26 wins, no losses and two ties. They won every tournament they entered, including the Whistler All-Star Tournament June 27-29 when they won six straight games, and won the shootout in the finals against the South Surrey Whalers after tying the game with 9.8 seconds left in the third period. They also won the Mainland Tournament (April 18-20), winning five straight games, as well as the Challenge Cup (May 16-19).
The team included a mix of players from the North Shore, Squamish and Whistler, as well as a handful of players from Burnaby. The Whistler and Squamish players are Eric Smith, Jesse Clemiss, Garrett Milan, Mike McCance and Hunter Nelson. The team was coached by Steve Sziklai, Barry Clemiss and Geoff Hewlett, all parents of Mountain Rangers players.
The final game was emotional for the players and coaches, especially after tying in regular time to eventually send the game to a shootout.