It was a uphill battle against formidable teams but the Penticton Punishers were successful in reaching the top in their quest for the South Okanagan Atom “Stanley Cup”. After a nail biting 3 game series, the Junior V Punishers edged South Okanagan Atom #2 with a 5-1 victory. An exciting at-home win met with cheers of fans who came out to support the team battling at the South Okanagan Events Center. Not only was the Championship win memorable for the team, being able to sit on the bench of their inspirational mentors, the Penticton V’s, made it all the more special.
Getting to the finals was not an easy task. Great games were played against equally talented teams but the Punishers dedication and drive payed off. Commitment to practices and continually improving their skills provided the foundation to being successful, both as players and as a team. Giving each player equal opportunity to demonstrate their skills both in drills and during games developed depth through each offensive and defensive line. This enabled the team to perform consistently and battle hard for the entire 60 minutes needed to move forward.
The team philosophy of fair and equal play for all members and balanced development of each player was employed by the coaching staff. Lead by Head Coach Ron Egilson and Assistants Minas Portalaki, Darren Bitzer, and Carl Peters, the team had an exceptional season. Regular season play resulted in most number of goals scored combined with one of the lowest goals against, all while developing three goalies. With only one league game loss, the Atom #1 team placed second in overall points. During tournament play actions spoke louder than words with an equally strong performance. Two tournament Silver medals against stiff competition from teams located at much larger centers in and around Vancouver.
“It was an honour to work with such a great group of kids these last 6 months. They have so much to be proud of!” remarked Coach Egilson. “A great way to end an exciting and fun season of hockey.” added Coaches Peters, Portalaki and Bitzer. The success of each player came not only from what they learned on-ice but also the Life skills gained from being a member of a team. Of course, none of this would have happened without the support of amazing and dedicated parents. Parents who often sacrifice time with family to watch their child light up after making a great play or wipe away the tears of disappointment.
In the end, it’s all worth it. These are the memories that will be fondly remembered by everyone involved but truly cherished by the kids who put in the hard work and dedication to realize their goal.