Tier 4 Ice Hawks flying high as playoffs approach

Clearwater Midget Ice Hawks are holding their own against larger Tier 3 associations

Clearwater Ice Hawks (l-r) #7 Nate Wadlegger

Clearwater Ice Hawks (l-r) #7 Nate Wadlegger

Although technically a Tier 4 team, Clearwater Midget Ice Hawks are holding their own against teams from larger Tier 3 associations in league play, according to head coach Tim Walker.

“We have been in every game and I believe have improved more than them from the time we started this year,” he said. “Reducing our penalties, playing with effort and puck support have been prominent amongst our chief objectives this year.”

The weekend before last the Hawks hosted South Okanagan (holder of first place in league play) and third place Summerland. The local squad narrowly lost to South Okanagan but tied with Summerland.

“Saturday’s game against South Okanagan was without question the worst performance of our year, but it was also one of those games where everything just kept going wrong in a weird way… I felt like it was a bad dream,” coach Walker commented.

Despite the initial weak showing the team managed to battle back in the third period against a 7-3 deficit to bring the score to 7 – 5.

With just under five minutes to play, South Okanagan put a nail in the Hawks’ coffin to beat them 8 – 5.

“Sunday’s game against Summerland was a good game for us,” Walker said, adding that there was much better effort the Clearwater players than the day before.

“We opened the scoring in the first and maintained a 1 –0 lead through to the end of the first. The team skated hard, played disciplined and organized,” he said.

In the second the Hawks slacked off just a bit and Summerland scored three unanswered goals to take the lead 3-1.

The Ice Hawks dominated the play for the vast majority of the third period.

“We scored four goals,the first of which was disallowed by a debatable call, yet still the boys worked hard battling even through an emotional scrum and a bit of ugly enticement by the other team,” Walker said.

The Icehawks maintained their focus and kept the lead at 4– 3 until the near end of the game. With just less than two minutes to play, Summerland was awarded a penalty shot and scored to steal the lead and tied up the game.

“Summerland took the full satisfaction of a victory for us yet we still came out of the game with a tie against the third place team in our league and we can be happy with that,” the Ice Hawks coach said.

Upcoming events for the Ice Hawks include a home tournament on Jan. 9-11.

After that will be the final three league games of the regular season. All three of these league games will be at home: Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. vs.Kelowna, Jan. 18 at 1:30 p.m. vs. Winfield and Jan. 24 at 3:30 p.m. vs. Merritt.

“We will need at least one win and one tie out of these three games to give us home ice advantage against Kelowna in our league playoffs,” Walker said. League play offs will most likely begin Jan. 31.

Clearwater Ice Hawks will host the Midget Tier 4 Provincial championship the week of March 15.