On the 30th anniversary of the North Saanich Middle School’s Viking Cup, the spoils of victory went to the students, who skated out 9-8 winners, beating their teachers in a competitive match.
The Panorama arena was almost filled to capacity Friday, with the students of North Saanich Middle School and a smattering of parents cheering the two teams.
Emily Verscheure, Lana Norris and Callie Bradshaw gave a moving rendition of the national anthem before the two teams commenced play.
“It was fun but a little bit scary. We practiced every lunchtime and it was a nice vibe,” said Verscheure.
As play swirled around the ice it was clear there were some unsung heroes. The two student referees were excellent, letting the game flow and confidently making calls. William Wright in the commentary box handled the technology and P.A. system, making announcements and whipping up the crowd.
“It was stressful but also a good accomplishment,” he said proudly, adding “the teachers did pretty well, better than we thought.”
Kristi Timmermans, one of the organizers, explained the game’s importance. “It’s a huge part of our culture at North Saanich and it’s a great way to start spring break.”
Out on the ice, the creaky knees of the teachers in Viking white held out as they ran the students close, flicking shot after shot at the students’ goal.
The students wearing yellow Eagles’ jerseys had their goaltender to thank for keeping the score level and they played some excellent hockey, building up from the back and breaking into the offensive third at great speed.
The staff were supplemented with some young affiliate players and every member of the Viking team carried themselves with class.
The halftime entertainment featured the whole school split into sections singing the hockey song. The enthusiastic and impeccably behaved students all joined in, with the winning section awarded boxes of pizza.
Just before the break, the teachers were showing some great link–up play and threatening to assert their dominance, before two goals either side of the break gave the students the momentum they needed to stretch into the lead. Two decisive goals from Cameron Johnson and Leila Williams pushed the students ahead, and despite a late rally from the teachers, the superior fitness of the students held and the staff barely hung on to force an extra-time shoot out.
Both goaltenders pulled off some stunning saves and the student Eagles skated out narrow 9-8 winners.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Eagles player Noah Allen. “I was maybe a little nervous at the start but once it got going it was fine.”