To remain undefeated in any season, in any sport, is an unprecedented feat.

For the Central Zone Rockets U18 AA team, that’s exactly what they did, as a victory Wednesday in their provincial championships capped an incredible 33-0 season.

“We had a great group of kids, we had a lot of adversity all year with injuries and games with very few players,” head coach Devon Sanvold told KelownaNow.

“Everyone on the team went along with what was asked of the coaching staff. With us being an older team and the majority of them being their last year playing midget hockey, they wanted to be on top. Obviously, winning the provincial championship was the candle on the cake, but having an undefeated season was pretty special, especially for the 17-year-old.

The team went through its first four games in the provincial championships, beating its opponents 24-3.

But the final was anything but a cakewalk.

They faced the North East AA Trackers of Fort St. John, a team Sanvold had history with.

“In 2019, I was lucky that a team made it to the provincials, and we ended up in the final and lost to (the Trackers), so it was a nice redemption. It’s a shame that he There has to be a winner and a loser in this type of game, but for me to be able to play against the team we lost to three years ago was good.”

The Trackers played a killer brand of hockey and frustrated the Rockets early in the game.

<who> Photo credit: Davis Stevens Photography </who> The final was a physical battle between the two teams.” class=”img-responsive” src=”” style= “margin: 5px;”/></p>
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<p>“They came out physically, really aggressive, with a lot of heavy forechecking and body contact in the first two periods,” Sanvold said.  “We had to ride out this storm knowing they were going to throw it at us and try to keep it close to them.”</p>
<p>Suddenly, the Rockets found themselves trailing 2-0 at the start of the second. </p>
<p>It took a goal from Ryan Donovan, assisted by Zach Warren, to relieve some of the pressure heading into the third. </p>
<p>“Like any team that comes out very physical with pressure on the body, they tend to wear down a bit as games go on,” Sanvold explained.  “So we knew if we stayed in after the first two periods with these guys they were going to get tired and we were going to get back in the game, which we did.”</p>
<p>In the third period, the Rockets began to dominate possession and eventually tied a Nash Bishop goal to send the game into overtime.  For Warren, there was no doubt at that time who was going to win. </p>
<p>“Once we lost 2-0 it was a bit scary for a second, but as soon as we got the first one everyone was super excited.  Then Nash scored the second, and we knew then that we weren’t going to lose this game.</p>
<p>Sanvold was confident of finding a player who would be the OT hero. </p>
<p>“Every player, regardless of level, wants to be the winning guy for the team,” Sanvold noted.</p>
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<p><img alt= Photo credit: David Stevens Photography Dain Levesque, the OT hero.” class=”img-responsive” src=”” style=”margin :5px;”/>

“We had a bunch of guys in the room who could step in and we were lucky that one of our leaders all year, Dain Levesque, who has just been a workhouse for us all season, he was the guy who was able to put the puck in the net and let the team win the provincials.

Lévesque’s goal came six minutes into overtime to cap off an incredible season and send players and fans into a frenzy.

“It was huge because Dain was a latecomer to the team from the very beginning,” Warren said. “He didn’t know if he wanted to play hockey, so he was just a huge addition to the team and he really helped us all year, he was awesome.”

<who> Photo credit: David Stevens Photography </who> The Rockets celebrate with their provincial banner.” class=”img-responsive” src=”” style=”margin: 5px;”/ ></p>
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<p>It was Sanvold’s 17th year as a minor hockey coach, and the end of the season presented the perfect opportunity to hang up the coaching pad.</p>
<p>“Looking back at how successful we’ve been this year, there’s a point in every manager’s coaching career when they think maybe it’s time to hang up and get the upper hand and I can’t not really thinking of a better year that I might have had… Unfortunately, there won’t be a next year for me as a coach, but I wish the best to whoever takes over.</p>
<p>“We had goals at the start of the year,” said Sanvold.  “All the boxes were ticked, hats off to the players, we had a great parent group and we had an amazing dressing room of great young men who knew what they wanted to achieve, and they all bought in.”</p>
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