The Hazelton Bulldogs peewee tier four hockey team captured the provincial championship title for the first time in Hazelton’s history last week after going undefeated in Fort Nelson.
Winning six straight games is no easy task for any team in any sport, especially for a small-town team from the Hazelton’s but the Bulldogs had a great season and had the drive and talent to bring home the area’s first provincial banner.
Coach Simon Dodd said it was without a doubt, the highlight of his coaching career and attributes the team’s success to hard work, a solid team effort and a key game winning goal by Ken Tait in their first game at the provincials.
“The whole team played so well,” Dodd said. “Everyone contributed such as Frazer Dodd who finished with 24 points in six game and Ethan Drew who picked up 14 points.
“Tait’s game-winning goal in our first game against Chetwynd with only four minutes left was a real turn around point for the whole team and we really never looked back.”
“Compared to many of the other teams, Hazelton played with a relatively short bench with three defencemen, three forward lines and two goaltenders.
All of which were a part of the team’s success Dodd said.
“Our most improved player, Decland Giguere played extremely well on our first line with Frazer and Ethan,” Dodd explained.
“We had two key goals from Tait, our second line of Paolo Rubinato, Jake Wilson and Dionne Fowler acted as a shutdown line and I don’t think they had a goal against them as they played very well defensively.
“Our third line of Anthony Louie, Brendan Starr, and Jaren Jack chipped in with some key goals and we only played with three defencemen, Joel Patsy, Liam Dodd and Jessie Roth.
“They got tons of ice time and we had the best goals-against-average in the tournament.
“Joel was the player that kept the other teams worried with his strength, size and powerful shots.
“Our goaltender, Jessie Johnson had an excellent final game in goal and throughout the week and when called upon Braydon Mould, our back up goalie, had a strong game against Whitehorse only allowing two goals.”
Although the Bulldogs went 6-0, four of the six games were won by one goal making for some “really intense and really tight” hockey Dodd said.
For parents such as Kevin Rubinato and fans watching, the week was full of solid hockey and Hazelton left with not only the provincial title but some great memories.
“The whole experience was great but that last game was so tight and gut wrenching as it was such a close game,” Rubinato shared.
“I’m still just glowing because I’m so happy for them, they are provincial champions and no one can take that away from them.
“The kids went there to play and they new it was big, winning the first game was so exciting and they kept winning and it just kept getting crazier and at the end of the final game watching them cheer together, chanting we’re number one brought tears to my eyes.”
As for where and when the banner will be hung, that is yet to be determined but Simon said it will definitely go up somewhere in the arena and he hopes that the community and minor hockey might do something special to honour the teams great success.