A booming slap shot from the point by defenceman Andrew Stevens gave the Okanagan Hockey Academy its first-ever title at the 50th Bantam AAA International hockey tournament in Burnaby on New Year's Eve.
The goal by the first team tournament all-star gave the Okanagan academy a 4-3 victory over the Langley Eagles in the tournament gold-medal final.
OHA's player of the game Davis Koch scored two goals to help the Interior team to a 3-1 lead midway through the second period.
But later in the period, Langley closed the deficit to a single goal on Baylee Wright's tap-in.
Langley's player of the game, Spencer Gerth, then added to the excitement, getting the game-tying tally on a five-on-three power play at 6:29 in the final frame.
"This year, we decided we wanted to be a part of this. It's always been a highly regarded tournament," said academy vice-president and former Vancouver Canucks' Dixon Ward.
Ward, the team's assistant coach, spent 10 seasons in the NHL, with six separate clubs.
He was also named the Calder Cup playoff MVP with the 1996 AHL champions Rochester Americans.
Ward's best season in the NHL was as a rookie forward in Vancouver, when he scored 22 goals and 52 points for the Canucks.
But watching the academy players battle back was also a highlight for Ward.
"He (Stevens) is a heck of a defenceman. We've been begging him to raise the puck from the back end and it went in," said Ward.
The Prince George Cougars placed third overall at the Burnaby tournament, edging Coquitlam 4-3 in the consolation final.
Academy's Beck Malen-styn was named the tournament's most outstanding forward.
Cowichan's Josh Anderson and Nicholas Tallarico of Surrey were top defenceman and goalie, respectively.
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