When the stakes are the highest, that is when the Langley Lightning seem to be at their best.
And their coach is counting on that as the Langley Girls Ice Hockey Association midget AA rep hockey team skates at the provincial championships beginning Sunday in Invermere.
“They just seem to be a team that enjoys pressure,” said Vince Nelles. “They play really well under pressure as opposed to when nothing really matters, they seem to take it easy, they go to sleep.”
The coach was referring to a middling regular season where the team placed fifth in the standings.
Compare to their tournament record: they won in Kamloops, came second at their own December tournament, and placed third at a prestigious international tournament in San Jose.
“We didn’t really show it in the regular season, but I think we are one of the best team; we just had a lot of inconsistency,” Nelles said.
They also battled injury problems.
But they found their game in the post-season.
In the opening round, they defeated Maple Ridge, thanks to a late goal to win game three and then prevailing in a shootout in game four.
That advanced them to a round robin tournament with Richmond and Surrey, the top two teams, with only two advancing to provincials.
But the Lightning went 1-2-1 and needed a Richmond win over Surrey to advance, and Richmond obliged, winning the game 3-0 to win the pool and giving Langley second.
Provincials run March 20-24.
“The key for us is to just play like we have been in the playoffs,” Nelles said. “They just play really intelligently when they are under pressure.
“Pressure seems to be what turns them on; they really relish having to work under these conditions.”
He called the Lightning one of the smartest and easiest teams he has coached, adding that while they were not the most skilled, they make up for that with hard work.
“Just give them a task and they will do it,” he said.
The team is made up of:
Team members are Sara Boehringer, Keara Graham, Amber Gudmundson, Kassandra Johnson, Karly Knudsen, Christina Mavritsakis, Rae-Ann McCarthy, Kaitlan McClurg, Laura McPhedran, Alyssa Nelles, Tessa Ratzlaff, Samantha Rogers, Samantha Schwartz, Brianna Tham and Chelsea Wilson. The team is coached by Vince Nelles, Assistant Coach’s are Dave McClurg and Lars Knudsen ad Donna Boehringer is the Team Manager.