The Alberni Valley T3 Bantam Bulldogs collected the Island District Champions banner and punched their ticket to the provincial championships with a win against the Powell River Kings on Sunday, March 3.
The Bantam Bulldogs went undefeated in round robin play during the Island League playoffs, and a win against Saanich in the semi-finals led them to a best-of-three series against Powell River for the Tier 3 banner.
The Bulldogs lost their first game in Powell River, shutout 3-0 by the home team, but bounced back at home with a 4-1 win on Saturday, March 2 and a 5-2 win on Sunday.
“They played excellent,” said head coach Wade Nicklin on Sunday. “They grinded it out until the end.”
Hudson Swann opened the scoring just 10 minutes into the first period, and Blake Moore doubled the lead with just over a minute remaining in the first. In the second period, Powell River scored one to cut the lead in half, but Alberni’s Mason Cannon added another to put the home team up 3-1.
Scoring in the third period went back and forth. Powell River added one more goal and Port Alberni added two, with Brett Bilodeau scoring once and Cannon netting his second of the game.
Alberni Valley goaltender Jake Hebert stood tall to hold his team in the game, and the Bulldogs finished with a 5-2 win.
“Jake played stellar,” said Nicklin after the game. “He was solid in the net.”
With their win on Sunday, the Bulldogs are now headed to the Tier 3 Championships for bantam rep hockey, which will be held in Port Hardy from March 17-20.
“We’ll take it one step at a time,” said Nicklin. “We’ll get a few good practices in, then go there in a good mood.”