The Valley Selects are the best in the West â€“ the Western Challenge Cup, that is.
The U19 squad went undefeated while topping its division as the Valley Ball Hockey Association hosted the 15th annual Western Challenge Cup July 17-20.
The Langleys welcomed 38 teams from the Lower Mainland and Alberta who competed in five age groups for the title of Western Canadian champion.
The U19 Selects consisted of 20 players, all members of the VBHA. This tournament was the last to be played by some of the boys as this was their final year playing in minor ball hockey.
â€œThis group of young men made a commitment to each other and to this tournament,â€ Selects head coach Wayne Van Geel said. â€œThey were not going to settle for anything less than gold in their hometown of Langley.â€
Van Geel along with assistant coaches Rob Kahle, Ian Wightman, and Jesse Churchwell led the team through the four-day tournament
The Cup was played out of the Langley Events Centre, George Preston Recreation Centre, and Aldergrove Community Arena.
The U19s played five games over the course of three days to reach the gold medal final on Sunday.
The Selects got an early jump on their first three opponents, scoring goals in the opening minutes of each game.
Along the way, the Selects romped to an 8-1 win over Metro Minor Ball Hockey on July 17, followed by back-to-back 7-1 wins on July 18 over Richmond and Ridge.
On Saturday afternoon, July 19, the Selects defeated Surrey 5-1 in preparation for Saturday nightâ€™s game which saw the team compete against the Delta Giants.
The Delta team was made up of a few players who recently came back from Slovakia where they competed as representatives of the U20 Team Canada team.
The Giants lived up to their name and proved to be the toughest competition of the tournament, downing the Selects by a 3-0 score.
Despite the loss, the Selects earned the second place spot to vie for the gold medal on Sunday afternoon against the first place finishing Giants.
The Selects avenged their loss the day before by blanking the Giants 5-0, with goaltender Wade Brenner earning the shutout.
â€œThe boys came out on fire. The show of support from the community of Langley was overwhelming,â€ Van Geel said. â€œThe boys played in a crown packed arena.â€
Van Geel said he was very proud of all of his players, who made his minor ball hockey swan song a memorable one.
â€œThis was my final year of coaching in VBHA and to end it with a gold medal win was everything I had hoped for, not only for myself, but for all the boys,â€ Van Geel added.
The U19 Valley Selects are Mike Bencze, Brian Stertz, Alex Ferguson, Chris Molloy, Bakshi Gill, Kevan Broekhuysen, Trevor Mainman, Cole Wynn, Bryce Pengelly, Cayden Helders, Colton Kahle, Scott McQuade, Garrett Van Geel, Brandon Grasby, Nick Hall, JR Cracknell, Bryce Pisiak, Brad Wightman, Ryan Fairley and Wade Brenner.