WESTLOCK — Despite a practically heroic late-game rally in their last match that saw them erase a three-goal deficit, the Westlock U18 Warriors ultimately fell to the Camrose Vikings 5-4 in overtime during the championship final of the Gord Smith Memorial Midget Tournament on Sunday (Dec. 3).
The three-day tournament, named for a former organizer of the event and a lifelong supporter of minor sports in the Westlock area, began on Friday (Dec. 1) and featured a total of six teams competing at the Westlock Rotary Spirit Centre.
In addition to Westlock and Camrose, the other teams included the Glenlake Hawks, the CR Knights, the Sturgeon Mustangs and Spruce Grove.
The Westlock Warriors got off to a strong start on Dec. 1, defeating the Sturgeon Mustangs 8-1 in the first game of the tournament. They also capped off the second day of round robin action with a 10-3 victory over the CR Knights on the evening of Dec. 2.
Finishing in first place out of the round robin, the Warriors next faced off with Spruce Grove the morning of Dec. 3. Despite some stiffer opposition, the Warriors won that match 5-2.
In the championship final, the Westlock Warriors started off slow, trailing the Camrose Vikings 3-1 after the first period and 4-1 after the second. In the third period, they exploded out of the gate, scoring two goals within the first six minutes to put the score at 4-3.
Finally, the tying goal came 7:57, which ultimately forced Camrose and Westlock to play a five-minute sudden death overtime.
Unfortunately, Westlock was down one man due to some penalty trouble, and Camrose was able to capitalize on that power play advantage just over a minute into overtime.
Warriors' head coach Kelly Vervynck said there were many exciting games played by all teams throughout the weekend, adding that the tournament showed the community of Westlock "has a great complex that can support some really good tournaments like this."
He also credited the other teams for contributing to a food drive for the Westlock Food Bank. Collectively, all six teams brought in 1,667 lbs of food, with the Glenlake Hawks bringing in the biggest haul at a whopping 873 lbs.
"There were some very good communities who joined ours to do well with the Food Bank drive," Vervynck said.