Blaine hockey boys bash their way to the top
By Jack Kintner
Though Blaine high school doesn’t have a hockey team of its own, the under-18 Whatcom Warriors that calls the Bellingham Sportsplex home comes close, with Blaine senior Danny Dougan in goal and junior Philip Harezlak playing defense. Both players figured prominently in what was a very successful season.
They play in the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association as a “midget” team, although most of the boys tower over their parents. The designation means that all players are under 18 in Canada, or 18 and under in the U.S.
The Warriors play a lot of their season north of the border, and this year completed a trifecta of sorts by winning their league championship, the Washington state high school championship last month and the post-season President’s Cup trophy last weekend in Sechelt, B.C. against one of the few teams to give them trouble this year, the Sunshine Coast Blues.
The post-season tournament finals against the Blues was the last one in the area for the Warriors, who left Wednesday of this week for the eight-team USA regionals in California.
Playing at the Blues home rink in Sechelt, the team started tentatively and when a Blues forward popped the puck in off Dougan’s left arm they found themselves on the short end of a 1-0 score at the end of the first period.
Dougan got little support from his team in the second period and was hammered pretty steadily as the Blues scored again.
But in the third period, the boys showed up and fought back with two goals to tie the score. Due to earlier wins and more wins against common opponents, the tie gave the President’s Cup trophy to the Warriors.
The state championships last month showcased the team’s ability to play together under duress as they started out by digging themselves a hole in a tough but frustrating 1-0 loss to the Seattle Admirals.
From that point on, though, the tournament belonged to them. They came out on fire against Spokane, burying the puck almost at will for a 10-3 victory. Blaine’s Philip Harezlak came away with 7 points after scoring four goals and three assists.
They kept it up against Sno-King in the next game, lodging a 7-0 shut-out and earning a berth in the semifinal round against the opposite bracket’s top seed, Puget Sound.
Harezlak managed to break open what appeared to be a close game when with just under two minutes left he rifled a deft pass to Keegan Bruce whose long shot sailed just under the crossbar and into the back of the net for 2-1 win and another shot at the Admirals for all the marbles.
The Warriors’ Bryce Kenning scored the game’s only goal, the eventual game winner on a Cliff Davis assist, in a close and physical defensive struggle that the Warriors won 1-0 for the trophy. Dougan, whose goals-against average on the year is a respectable 2.01, stopped over 40 shots in shutting out the Admirals, going 4-1 on the tournament and managing a quite good .6 goals against average. Harezlak finished with a team high 12 points on the tourney.
The team, now 25-5 (and 3 ties), is now in Simi Valley, California, taking on the best from California, Oregon, Nevada, and Alaska for one of two bids to the National Championship Tournament in Buffalo, New York.
Borderite boys dispose of Nooksack 7-0
Blaine boys soccer began the 2008 season with a bang last Tuesday, feeding Nooksack their shorts with a brutally efficient 7-nil drubbing in the Siberian reaches of the Pipeline Fields complex last Tuesday afternoon.
Caleb Statham came away with a hat trick while Casey McCabe and small but lightning fast Zarik Khan got two goals apiece.
Blaine opened the scoring at six minutes when Statham sent a corner kick to Khan who headed it into the net in a move worthy of Nureyev, as encouraging to Blaine fans as it was disheartening to Nooksack. At the 31 minute mark, Frank Martinez boomed a shot on goal but was blocked.
When McCabe buried the rebound, Martinez at least ended up with an assist.
In the second half, Statham ended up with an easy gimme at the 49 minute mark as he rebounded a tough shot by McCabe and then sent it gently rolling toward the empty net, Nooksack’s goalie having been pulled by McCabe’s shenanigans.
Then, as if putting on a clinic, Blaine scored four times in rapid fire against a pressing and flat Nooksack defense that allowed streaking Blaine forwards to run in under passes and break away for scores, which they did at minute 61, 70, 73 and 81, a minute into injury time.
Statham got the first one on a McCabe assist, then two identical feeds from Sooraj Sall to McCabe followed, and finally, during injury time, Zarik Khan buried a pass from Patrick Mulholland.
For the week of February 15
Blaine 7, Nooksack 0
Ferndale 12, Blaine 0