Jamie Brake was proud of the effort his boys gave in the pursuit of gold, but he was quick to heap praise on the opposition in defeat.
The Western Knights, with Brake as head coach, lost 4-3 in overtime to the Central Thunder in the gold-medal final at the 2018 provincial minor midget hockey championship Sunday in Glovertown.
The final proved to be a nailbiter with the Knights falling behind the Thunder 2-0 in the early going, but the Knights rallied back to score two of their own to tie the game.
Early in the third period the Thunder took a 3-2 lead, but in the dying minutes of the game the Knights struck for the equalizer to send the game to overtime.
Thunder struck for the winner three minutes into the extra period to win the championship.
Brake acknowledged that his team played well enough to win, hitting two goalposts in the final minutes of the third period, but he couldn’t help but notice how the central squad showed continuous improvement from the beginning of the season to the end.
“Each tournament they got better and obviously when they came to the final series they were up to the challenge,” he said.
The Knights earned a berth in the final by virtue of a perfect round-robin record in the four-team tournament. They opened up with a 5-0 win over Northern before shading TriPen 5-2 and beating the Thunder by a 5-4 margin.
The Knights finished first overall in the regular season with a 7-3-2 record.
Brake was pleased with how the three-team league unfolded this winter and he’s excited about next winter because Northern is committed to entering a team and there is a possibility of St. John’s coming into the mix.
Last season there was no league play and minor midget teams were limited to participation in the annual provincial minor midget hockey championship, but this year league officials were able to get three teams committed to a league schedule that saw teams play in various venues in their respective regions.
Brake is a happy camper because growth of the league is something he has been promoting for a couple of years because he believes there is a lot of interest in the minor midget program and players deserve a chance to play some competitive hockey without having to commit to the Kings major midget hockey program that sees players tied up with hockey most weekends.