Coaches and players with the U13 Tier 1 Silverbacks, photographed in Chase, bring home the 2022 OMAHA U13 Tier 1 league banner to Salmon Arm after winning the league title. They have been competing with teams from Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and West Kelowna. (Contributed)

Coaches and players with the U13 Tier 1 Silverbacks, photographed in Chase, bring home the 2022 OMAHA U13 Tier 1 league banner to Salmon Arm after winning the league title. They have been competing with teams from Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and West Kelowna. (Contributed)

Salmon Arm U13 hockey team claims top spot, wins tier 1 league title

Administrator thinks it may be first time a former tier 2 team has claimed a tier 1 banner

A Salmon Arm hockey team rose above and beyond expectations this season.

An enthusiastic Roy Sakaki, Salmon Arm Minor Hockey administrator, explained what happened.

“Our Salmon Arm U13 Tier 1 team sponsored by Yan’s Restaurant won the Okanagan-Mainline Tier 1 league title. This is one huge accomplishment, as I can’t recall, in all the years, a Salmon Arm tier 2 team who decided to declare tier 1 winning a league title.”

Mark Delleman, co-coach of the U13 Tier 1 Silverbacks, along with Blaine Stowards and assistant coach Spencer Ward, said in its age division the team always plays in tier 2, based on its size and number of kids.

“This year we decided to play in tier 1; we thought we would be able to compete.”

And compete they did.

Delleman said they were down in the league before Christmas so it was quite an uphill climb – but they haven’t lost since then.

“We have a great team, a really down-to-earth group of kids, really hard-working, they put a lot of effort in.”

He said the team had a couple of wins and a tie at a tournament in Prince George which sealed up the league.

Asked if the title was a surprise, Delleman said not to the coaching staff.

“We knew we could do it. But I think a lot of people probably are. We have faith in our kids.”

The next big challenge will be the playoff championships in Kelowna from March 4 to 6.

He said like most rep hockey teams, players on the team are drawn from around the region.

“This is the first season all of us are together. Some of the kids are from North Okanagan, one from Chase, one from Salmon Arm and two from Sicamous. A lot of these kids have competed against each other in previous years and this year they all came together.”

Together they brought the league banner home to Salmon Arm.

“These kids have a lot to be proud of,” Delleman declared.

Read more: Salmon Arm minor hockey players recognized for achievements over past hockey season

Read more: National para-swimmer in Salmon Arm puts her energy into sledge hockey


martha.wickett@saobserver.net
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