There was little to suggest in the fall of 2001 that the upcoming season for boys' hockey at West Kings would be anything other than another winning campaign. By the time all was said and done, a special group of boys had teamed up to produce one of the truly memorable seasons in the history of hockey at the Auburn school.
The Wolverines went undefeated in league play, were victorious in three different tournaments and advanced to the semifinals at provincials before being defeated by a deep and talented Millwood squad that went on to capture the provincial banner.
West Kings traditionally draws its students from Berwick west to the County line. It was not unusual to have a handful of Berwick boys on the school's teams each year, but in this case, the lion's share of the players had played their minor hockey in Berwick. “It was one of those rare times when everything comes together,” recalls team manager Hazen Trueman. “They were a special group of young athletes who also won three straight provincial titles in soccer and one in rugby during their high school years.”
West Kings, with John Verran and Steve Keddy as coaches, Trueman the manager and Jim Brothers as trainer, had it all – strong goaltending, a solid defense and four lines of good two-way players, equally capable of scoring and backchecking.
After winning the Gator Classic at Central Kings, the Wolverines entered the Fred Kelly tournament in Wolfville just after Christmas looking to win for a third straight year. West Kings met Sackville in the final, and Luke Verran's goal at 11:25 of the second overtime gave the Wolverines a 3-2 win. Next was the City of Lakes tournament in Dartmouth. Advancing to the final against Riverview from Cape Breton, the defending champion Wolverines waltzed to a 4-0 victory. A number of parents commented it was “this team's finest game.”
A highlight of the season was a trip to St. John's, NL to play in the 28-team Confederation Cup tournament. West Kings won four of its five games, and came home with a $1,000 scholarship awarded to the most sportsmanlike and competitive team.
The Wolverines went through the regular season in the Valley High School Hockey League with a record of 21 wins and one tie in 22 games. Five players ended up in the top-10 in the league in scoring; the goalies surrendered barely a goal a game. West Kings punched its ticket for Division 1 provincials with 6-0 and 4-1 wins over Yarmouth in a two-game total goal series for the regional title.
At provincials, West Kings met five-time defending champion Kings-Edgehill, which had played in the Capital Region all season, in the quarterfinals. Coach Keddy “calmed the troops” as the game went to overtime, and the Wolverines responded, winning 3-2 on Ben Rose's goal at 14:26 of the second extra session.
In the semifinals, West Kings, with several players suffering from the 'flu, grabbed a three-goal lead over Millwood, only to see the Knights tie the score 5-5 with 4:40 remaining, then net the game-winner 30 seconds later, ending what had been one of the most exciting and successful seasons ever for West Kings.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the team category, the 2001-2002 West Kings Wolverines hockey team.
2001-2002 West Kings Wolverines Hockey:
Kirk Verran, Matt Wright, Luke Verran, Scott McBean, Peter Morse, David Trueman, Ian Morse 'A', Ben Rose 'A', Chris Boylan, Jay Dorey, Ian Currie, James Allen, Ryan Barkhouse 'C', Cody Bower, Ryan Brothers, Ryan Morse, Roddy Easson, Mark Robinson 'A', Kyle Hicks, Steve Arsenault, Jeff Peach, Andrew MacDonald, Chris Meanie, Coach John Verran, Coach Steve Keddy, Manager Hazen Trueman, Trainer Jim Brothers.
Players from Berwick area in bold
Inducted June 2012