The Van Isle Ford Midget Bulldogs won the Vancouver Island Midget Tier 2 Banner on Sunday at the end of a dramatic best-of-three series with the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies.
The series was an emotional roller coaster for team and supporters alike. The players dug deep and grew stronger as the series progressed, but the outcome was not decided until the last two minutes of the third game.
“When they were down, they stepped it up. They showed no quit,” coach Brent Demerais said. “We got really good goal tending from Bryce Dirocco.”
The first game of the series did not go well for Alberni. A slow start had them down 3-0 early in the second period, and an empty netter put the game out of reach at 5-2.
More than 600 fans came out to rock Weyerhaeuser Arena for Port Alberni’s only home game March 5, and the team also received extra support from the Junior A Bulldogs organization, AVMHA executive and other volunteers for their last home game of the season.
It only took 13 seconds for Brady Janzen to set up Lim for backhand shot past the Grizzly goalie’s stick and the arena went wild.
The game was tied 3-3 after regulation. Five minutes into sudden-death overtime the Bulldogs delivered an exciting end to their home game, scoring to win 4-3.
The final game was back at Bear Mountain on March 6. A lot of Alberni fans made the trip down.
The game was again tied 3-3 when, with two minutes left, Alberni scored on the power play to go ahead 4-3.
Juan de Fuca pulled their goalie for the extra attacker in the last minute, but Alberni’s forechecking forced a turnover in the neutral zone. Tyler Wilhelm coolly avoided the last man back and potted the empty netter to seal the Island championship at 5-3.
The team will now prepare for the provincial championships in Salmon Arm, March 20-23. This will be new for half the team, but nine players have been there before as peewees in 2006, bantams in 2008 or midgets in 2009.