Each year on the Peninsula, the sports world is full of success stories – from softball championships and minor hockey victories, to provincial volleyball titles and more.
And while 2012 featured many of those highlights we’ve come to expect, the past 12 months were chock full of even more exciting moments than usual – including a slew of Olympic medals and a near-historic run at horse racing’s triple crown.
In fact, both jockey Mario Gutierrez’s out-of-nowhere wins at the Kentucky Derby and The Preakness, and the bronze medals won at London’s Summer Games by weightlifter Christine Girard, swimmer Richard Weinberger and the members of Canada’s national women’s soccer team are the leading contenders – if not runaway winners – for the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s top sports story of the past year.
So, for those top stories and more, as they say in the replay booth, let’s go to the video tape…
• South Surrey goaltender Hillary Pattenden puts her name in the NCAA record books, after earning he 92nd career victory for Mercyhurst College. The Elgin Park Secondary grad become the winningest goaltender in women’s college hockey when she earned a 9-0 shutout victory against Lindenwood University.
• The Earl Marriott Mariners senior girls basketball team places third at the annual Surrey Firefighters’ Goodwill Classic, winning the bronze-medal game 51-38 over Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers. The tournament was won by the Holy Cross Crusaders, ending Elgin Park’s run of five straight championships.
• After a year off the ice due to renovations at the Peace Arch Curling Centre, the popular Bye the Sea ladies bonspiel returns to the ice. The 16-team event was won by Marpole’s Laura Rampton rink, while a Cloverdale team skipped by Diane Jarvos placed second.
• 20-year-old netminder Adam Morrison – a Semiahmoo Minor Hockey alum – returns to play on Lower Mainland ice for the first time since his minor hockey days, after being traded to the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants from the Saskatoon Blades. Three months later, Morrison, who was originally a draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, signs as a free agent with the Boston Bruins.
• The White Rock Christian Academy Warriors placed second at the Surrey RCMP Classic, losing the championship game in heartbreaking fashion – 68-66 in overtime to the Tamanawis Wildcats.
• A handful of South Surrey and White Rock rugby players make the cut with B.C.’s Elite Youth Sevens team. Among 37 players named to the team – which travels to south to the Las Vegas Invitational one month later – are Bobby Devaney, Robert Jones, Joey Kenville, Alex Klassen, Ian McMaster, Quinton Willms and Luke Zandbergen.
• Semiahmoo Minor Hockey player Sydney Kreps is chosen to play for Zone 3 (Fraser Valley) at the B.C. Winter Games.
• Open-water swimmer Richard Weinberger – who later in the year goes on to capture Olympic bronze – take his first step towards the London Summer Games by winning two medals at a swim meet in Argentina. The victories earned him a spot at an Olympic qualifier event later in the spring.
• After being relegated from the premier league and into first division rugby in the fall of 2011, Bayside’s top men’s rugby team wins its first Div. 1 game in convincing fashion – 87-0 over Seattle.
• The Surrey Eagles win three straight games to move into first place in the BC Hockey League’s Mainland Division.
• South Surrey’s Colton Gillies joins a new National Hockey League team, after being claimed on waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gillies, a Semiahmoo Minor Hockey alum, had spent his entire pro career with the Minnesota Wild after being drafted in the first round in 2007.
• A month after losing to them in the final of the Surrey RCMP Classic, the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors knock earn a measure of revenge against the Tamanawis Wildcats in the playoffs, beating them 60-58 in the Fraser Valley Southwest conference finals.
• John Dykstra, head coach of the White Rock Christian Academy’s senior boys basketball team, resigns his position with the team. Dykstra, who’d coached the team since 2009, declined comment on reasons for his departure – which came with his team in the middle of Fraser Valley playoffs – and WRCA principal Stephen Hardy said only that the school and team are “taking it day by day right now.” Assistant coach Dale Shury takes over in Dykstra’s absence.
• A handful of Surrey and White Rock athletes win medals at the BC Winter Games in Vernon, led by South Surrey speed skater Connor Meeks, who wins three golds. Other winners in Vernon include the Cloverdale curling team of Tyler Tardi, Jordan Tardi, Nicholas Umbach, Zachary Umbach and Nicholas Meister, who win gold over a team from Vancouver Island.
• Southridge School’s senior girls basketball team adds a new banner to the school gym after winning the single ‘A’ Fraser Valley championships with a 72-39 win over Credo Christian. Ashley Andreou is named tournament MVP after a 32-point, 17-rebound performance in the title game.
• WRCA defeats Abbotsford’s Yale Lions 77-70 in the Fraser Valley championship final to earn a spot in the senior boys AAA provincials. The berth marks a return to provincials for WRCA, who a year before failed to qualify for the tournament for the first time in a decade.
• Just prior to his team’s first-round playoff series against the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Surrey Eagles head coach Matt Erhart is named the BC Hockey League’s Coastal Conference coach of the year. Erhart, in his second season at the helm, led the Eagles to a 36-15-2-7 record – the team’s best mark since its BCHL championship season of 2004/05.
• The WRCA Warriors finish third at BC High School Boys AAA Basketball Championships, losing its semifinal tilt 73-64 to the Terry Fox Ravens. Prior to losing to the red-hot Ravens, however, White Rock knocked off No. 2-seed Pitt Meadows. In the bronze-medal game, the Warriors edged the Vancouver College Fighting Irish 96-95.
• The Surrey Eagles advance to the second round of the BCHL playoffs with a 3-2 overtime win over Cowichan Valley in Game 7 of the series. Brandon Tanev scores the series-clinching goal for the Peninsula team.
• Earl Marriott Secondary rugby players Bobby Devaney and Ian McMaster help lead their B.C. Elite Youth Sevens U18 team to a first-place finish at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens tournament. A third EMS player, Quinton Willms, was also on the team but could not play due to injury.
• Two minor hockey teams finish on the provincial podium, after the Cloverdale Colts bantam A1 squad finishes second at a tournament in Kamloops, and the Surrey Female Hockey Association’s Surrey Falcons earned runner-up status at peewee provincials.
• White Rock-South Surrey Titans midget football coach John Martins is named B.C. community football coach of the year at the BC Lions’ Orange Helmet Awards.
• The Fraser Valley Phantom midget AAA girls hockey team – which features five Surrey residents – captures a B.C. title, downing the Thompson-Okanagan Rockets in the provincial championship game.
• The Cloverdale curling team skipped by Tyler Tardi – the same foursome that competed at BC Winter Games in February – travel to Toronto to compete at the Optimist International Under-18 Curling Championships.
• The Surrey Eagles’ season ends with a Game 5 loss to the Powell River Kings in the BC Hockey League’s Coastal Conference finals. It’s the second time in as many years – and the third time in the last four seasons – that the Eagles have been eliminated from playoffs by the Kings.
• White Rock weightlifter Christine Girard qualifies for the 2012 Summer Olympics after winning gold at Western Canadian Weightlifting Championships.
• Two Semiahmoo Soccer Club teams win Coastal Cups. In U18 action, the Semiahmoo Vipers snaked by Squamish United 2-1 to win their title, while the Semiahmoo Silver ’96s also won a Coastal title, winning 3-2 over Abbotsford.
• Surrey Eagles forward Robert Lindores agrees to an NCAA scholarship with Northern Michigan University.
• The Earl Marriott Mariners defeat the Semiahmoo Totems 67-7 to win the school’s fourth straight Sandcastle Cup – the trophy awarded to the winner of the annual grudge match between the two school’s senior boys rugby teams.
• Jockey Mario Gutierrez – a one-time South Surrey resident now based in Southern California – thrills local fans with an improbably Kentucky Derby victory aboard I’ll Have Another. After his victory, Gutierrez returns to the Peninsula to celebrate with friends, including Peninsula racehorse-owner Glen Todd, his mentor. Later in the month, Gutierrez and I’ll Have Another win the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness.
• A total of 14 players from Semiahmoo and Cloverdale Minor Hockey – seven from each association – are selected in the Western Hockey League’s annual bantam draft. Cloverdale centre Tyler Soy is the highest-drafted player, going in the first round, eighth overall to t he Victoria Royals.
• The Bayside Sharks second-division men’s rugby team wins a provincial title with a 41-25 win over the Vancouver Rowing Club. In Div. 1 play, the Sharks finished second, losing the final game 36-24 to the Rowers.
• Ocean Athletics Track and Field Club hosts a World Athletics Day meet, which is highlighted by numerous podium finishes for local athletes. Elgin Park Secondary hurdler Jake Hanna leads the way, winning the Grade 8/9 boys 100-m hurdles.
• The Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys rugby team wins its fourth consecutive Fraser Valley championship with a win over Abbotsford’s Robert Bateman Timberwolves.
• Semiahmoo Secondary athletes Meghan Palesch and Alison Williams lead the pack of local athletes at B.C. High School Track and Field Championships, and helped pace their school to a top-10 overall finish.
• The Earl Marriott Mariners place sixth overall at senior boys AAA rugby provincials, while the Semiahmoo Totems placed 15th. In the AA tournament, Southridge Storm also fell out of contention on Day 2 of the tournament.
• Southridge School’s senior girls soccer team earns a new banner for the school gym, capturing a B.C. AA soccer title. The Storm defeat defending champion Glenlyon-Norfolk (Victoria) 2-0 in the provincial final.
• Swimmer Richard Weinberger punches his ticket to the Summer Olympics after winning a silver medal in the men’s 10-km marathon swim event at an Olympic qualifier in Portugal.
• Former National Hockey Leaguer Peter Shaeffer – who played for the Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins – joins the Surrey Eagles as an assistant coach.
• Mario Gutierrez’s run at the horse racing’s vaunted Triple Crown ends just prior to the The Preakness, after horse I’ll Have Another is scratched from the race due to injury. The jockey, who lived on the Peninsula for years while racing at Hastings Park, was attempting to win the first Triple Crown since 1978.
• Earl Marriott Secondary grad Paul Hayes, who now teaches in overseas, announces plans to cycle across China, passing out sports equipment to impoverished children along the way.
• Two Surrey hockey players are selected in the National Hockey League Entry Draft. Jujhar Khaira, of the BC Hockey League’s Prince George Spruce Kings, is selected in the third round by the Edmonton Oilers, while Cloverdale’s Reece Willcox, a defenceman with the Merritt Centennials, was chosen in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Flyers.
• The Surrey Storm capture the Futures Division title at the 2012 Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship, while the White Rock Renegades placed third in the Open’s women’s elite tournament. Meanwhile, in the international division, Canada is ousted from contention after a semifinal loss to defending champion Japan. Japan goes on to win the tourney over the United States.
• White Rock native Jason Garrison signs as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks, agreeing to a six-year, $27.6-million contract. Garrison had played the last three seasons with the Florida Panthers.
• Christian Meier wins the Tour de White Rock’s road race, while Svein Tuft – who wowed the road-race crowd with a fantastic comeback after early mechanic problems – won the criterium.
• Surrey athletes shine at the BC Summer Games, which are hosted at sites across the city, from Bear Creek Park to South Surrey Athletic Park and Semiahmoo Secondary.
• The White Rock 11/12 All-Stars finish second at provincial baseball championships, losing in the final game to a team from Vancouver’s Hastings Little League.
• South Surrey goaltender Hilary Pattenden is selected first overall by the Calgary-based Alberta Honeybadgers in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League draft.
• White Rock’s Christine Girard wins Olympic bronze in women’s weightlifting, giving Canada its first-ever medal in the sport. Following Girard’s medal win, Canada’s women’s soccer team – which features Peninsula residents John Herdman (head coach) and Maeve Glass (equipment manager) – and swimmer Richard Weinberger win bronze medals, too.
• A pair White Rock Renegade fastpitch teams represent B.C. at national championships, after the Renegades ’94 and ’95s each earn a berth at provincials. The 1995-born team – which won a national U16 crown the year before – win the U18 tournament, defeating the Surrey Storm in the final.
• South Surrey golfer Adam Svensson shoots a final round of 64 to capture the 2012 Canadian Junior Boys Golf Championship in Nova Scotia.
• B.C. rugby sides win four medals – two gold, two bronze – at the Rugby Canada National Championship Festival in Sherbrooke, Que. Team BC’s U18 and U16 won gold medals, while the provincial U18 girls won bronze. A third boys team, the U16-2 (development) team, also won bronze. Seventeen South Surrey, White Rock and Cloverdale players dotted the rosters of all four sides.
• Brandon Morley is named captain of the Surrey Eagles, succeeding his older brother, Tyler, the team’s former captain who has moved on to the NCAA. One month into the season, however, the younger Morley is traded to the Coquitlam Express for Brady Shaw.
• With the National Hockey League’s players locked out due to a labour dispute that stretches well into the season, South Surrey native Colton Gillies – a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets – stops by Centennial Arena to visit members of Semiahmoo Secondary’s Hockey Canada Skills Academy.
• Surrey runner Drew Nicholson wins the inaugural World Music Marathon, clocking a time of two hours, 36 minutes and 19 seconds.
• Surrey United’s women’s team fails to repeat as national champions, instead settling for second place at Canadian championships in Winnipeg.
A handful of other Surrey squads finish strong at nationals, too – Surrey United’s men’s team places fifth, United’s U16 boys team captures gold, U14 boys place sixth and, at U14 girls nationals, South Fraser FC ends up seventh.
• Led by a hat-trick from defenceman Devon Toews, the Surrey Eagles sweep their weekend schedule for the first time all season, winning games against the Vernon Vipers and Trail Smoke Eaters.
• Southridge Storm’s senior boys soccer team captures a Fraser Valley title, defeating Abbotsford’s John Brebeuf Bears 3-1 in the championship game.
• New amateur soccer association Coastal FC officially launches on the Peninsula, combining Semiahmoo (girls), Peace Arch (boys) and South Fraser (premier boys/girls) soccer clubs.
• The Langley Rams, who played in South Surrey from 2006-2010 (and in North Surrey for decades before that), defeat the defending champion Vancouver Island Raiders in the B.C. Junior Football Conference championship game.
• The Elphinstone Secondary (Gibsons) Cougars take top spot at the Peace Arch News Classic, the annual senior girls volleyball tournament hosted by Semiahmoo, Elgin Park and Earl Marriott secondaries.
• Semiahmoo Secondary finishes first in the senior girls team standings at B.C. Cross-Country Championships, held in Prince George.
• The Earl Marriott Mariners’ senior boys rugby team earns an invite from Rugby Canada to compete at the prestigious World Rugby Youth Invitational in Japan from April 29-May 6. EMS coach Adam Roberts calls the tournament “the World Series” of youth rugby.
• The Bayside Sharks’ women’s premier rugby team captures the Anna Schnell Cup with a victory over Burnaby Lake. The title is the first in club history for Bayside.
• Earl Marriott Mariners senior girls earn a bronze medal at B.C. AAAA Volleyball Championships in Coquitlam, defeating Charles Best. Marriott’s senior boys, meanwhile, placed fifth at AAA volleyball provincials in Kelowna.
• Cloverdale junior hockey player Tyler Wotherspoon, who plays for the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, is selected to play for Canada at the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship in Ufa, Russia, which began Boxing Day. A second Cloverdale player, Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit, is invited to Canada’s selection camp but is one of the final cuts.
• South Surrey’s Jenna Richardson is invited to take part in a Canada women’s national soccer team assessment camp in Richmond. The team, coached by fellow South Surrey resident John Herdman, was attempted to identify new talent for upcoming international competitions.
• Southridge Storm’s senior boys finish second at their own tournament, the Big Storm Invitational, losing in the final game to Panorama Ridge.