The Winthrop Rink hosted the Great Outdoors Hockey Tournament Feb. 4-6 for youth under 12 years of age, engaging 16 teams from around Washington state.
The host Winthrop Wolverines, while going without a win in the tourney, played well and demonstrated great effort against a field of teams mostly from the larger metropolitan areas of the state. Spokane, Seattle, Bellingham and the Tri-Cities all sent teams for the weekend event.
Besides the usual bevy of round-robin and bracketed tournament games, Saturday evening featured a skills competition consisting of several contests testing speed, agility, puck handling and shooting, and goalkeeping.
The tournament championship went to the Palouse Bears by virtue of their 4-2 win over Tri-Cities Lansing. Inland Empire defeated Tri-Cities Watts, 5-4, for third place.
Perhaps the single largest team following gathered on Friday afternoon when the Liberty Bell middle-schoolers showed up, in two busloads, to root on the Wolverines. Lining the rink with pom-poms, banners, signs and loud vocal support, the students on a Friday afternoon field trip cheered every save by Wolverine goalie Forrest Ashford and grieved every doomed rush on the Warrior net.
The real explosion came when the Wolverines got one by the Warrior net-minder, a cacophonous roar that resonated from Homestream Park to the Rio Vista Hotel.
While the Wolverines lost that first game to the Whatcom Warriors, 8-2, and went 0-4 in the tourney, one wouldn’t have known it by the reaction of the crowd, or that of co-coach James DeSalvo.
“You would have thought we won everything,” said DeSalvo. “Great attitudes, excellent effort every minute no matter what the score, lots of learning, and solid performances. I’m really proud of the way our team acts and carries themselves through challenges and that’s the most important outcome of the entire weekend.”
Sammy DeSalvo led the Wolverines in the skills competition, placing second in the fastest skater contest. Latham Peterson, Kimball Smith and Kai Borowski all performed well in their skills competition events on Saturday as well, according to DeSalvo.
You can come home again: In the crowd at the rink this weekend were former Methowians Rick McCauley and Janet Mehus, here to watch their grandson play hockey for the Inland Empire War Horses of the Spokane area. Dad Brandon McCauley (Liberty Bell High School ’07), with wife/mom Britta, was also caught in the crowd, standing on the east end snow bank Saturday evening at the skills competition.