Everyone loves a good underdog story, and earlier this week the UVIC Vikes Hockey Team wrote a tale for the ages. The Vikes, who weren’t expected to even reach the BCIHL Final wound up taking the trophy in dramatic fashion. Tyler Bennett has more.
The Uvic Vikes Hockey Program underwent numerous changes heading into the 2016-17 regular season, and through adversity and injuries managed to qualify for the BCIHL playoffs.
“since I got to the team I think it was; we were a really good team and we had the right tools, but we just struggled, we never seemed to find wins and we struggled to come together as a group,” Vikes 2nd year forward Jack Palmer says, “now in the last couple steps of the season I think we all kinda got together and decided that we wanted to win this thing and we’re good enough to do it so, it all worked out.”
And while critics didn’t even see the Vikes moving past Simon Fraser University in the first round – the Vikes swept SFU in a best-of-three series to advance to the BCIHL final. But the final didn’t start out the way they planned, as the Vikes lost game 1 to Trinity Western University at home, and were forced to win the next two games on the road to win the championship.
“Yeah that was a pretty tough night,” Vikes head coach Harry Schamhart says, “after playing so well against Simon Fraser, and having your second ever playoff game at home, and we didn’t play very well that night.”
“But after the game we all got in the dressing room we all sat down and kinda looked at each other and made promises that we weren’t going to let it get to us and that we were going to focus on the next game,” Palmer says, “and obviously on Saturday we were able to get the win and that brought life back to us.”
And so the Vikes forced a decisive game three, Vikes forward Patrick Holland would score two goals to give UVIC the lead, and with Trinity Western on the penalty kill in the last minute. the vikes looked destined for victory. Until distaster struck.
“They get a face-off in our zone and the puck actually ended up going back to my point man,” says Vikes 5th year forward Shawn Mueller, “and I slid out to try and block the shot but I missed it, and they ended up tipping it in, so yeah basically we went from a super high to a really big low.”
“I still knew we were on the power play,” Schamhart says, “so I called a timeout and regrouped and sent them back out.”
“then we get in their zone, Jack makes a nice pass over to me, and then I just walked out into the slot and put it on net and it went in,” Mueller recalls, “it’s just an unbelievable feeling, I honestly couldn’t have dreamt of anything better.”
The Vikes captured their fourth championship in 11 years, and now the team hopes to see improvements from the big win.
“I hope next year we can get a dressing room,” Palmer said with a grin, “that’s our biggest thing we want is a dressing room.”
Jokes aside, the Vikes’ championship run was one for the ages, and one that nobody who witnessed it will forget.
“It’s something something that we’ll all take forward and remember for the rest of our lives.”