Michael Daniels makes some smooth moves against the Sliammon Braves in the Cowichan Buckskin soccer tournament. (Photo by Kevin Rothbauer/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Michael Daniels makes some smooth moves against the Sliammon Braves in the Cowichan Buckskin soccer tournament. (Photo by Kevin Rothbauer/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Thunder battles hard in Buckskin soccer tournament

Runners-up in 2019 glad to be back on the pitch again

The last time the Penelakut Island Thunder men’s soccer team played in the Cowichan Buckskin tournament, the boys made it all the way to the final before settling for second place.

That was a great memory, especially since they did it in honour of Gram, Penelakut elder Irene Sam who died just two weeks before the tournament.

Related story: Penelakut Island men’s soccer team honours ‘Gram’ with a tournament to remember

It was all still fresh on the minds of the Penelakut players as they returned to the pitch following the long COVID hiatus and were anxious to take a run at the title again.

But all the other 15 men’s teams in the event had the same idea and every game was a hard-fought battle.

“That’s a tough tournament to win,” conceded coach Mark Brown Sr.

He knows all about that from his own playing experience in the heyday of Penelakut soccer.

“We won it before with the old Thunder team,” said Brown.

As for the current squad, “the guys are still trying to find their way yet,” he added.

“It’s a different team this year. We always pick up a few different players.”

Things started well enough with the Thunder defeating Sliammon Braves 6-1 on three goals by striker Michael Daniels and singles by midfielder Shane Brown, Patrick Brown and Mark Brown Jr., who came out of retirement to score.

But the goals ran dry in the second game during the quarterfinals in a 2-0 loss to the Alert Bay Cormorants.

Xwelmexw FC from the Lower Mainland won the men’s championship.

The Thunder tuned up for the tournament with a solid third-place finish during the Easter weekend at Musqueam in a field of 14 teams.

The Spune’luxutth (traditional Penelakut spelling) Js also participated in the Buckskin tournament, with a Jack family team, playing against the same two opponents as the Thunder.

The Js lost 5-0 to the Cormorants in their first game. “They’re a really tough team,” said Js team member Devin Jack.

The second game for the Js brought a 2-1 loss to Sliammon, with Earl Jack III scoring the lone goal in the hard-fought battle.

“Before COVID, we’ve been together for four years roughly,” Jack said of the team. “We’re looking to stay together as a team. We have more guys come out for practice and take it seriously again. Looking forward to many more tournaments.”

One of those will be in Campbell River in July, along with the Thunder.

There was also a young girls’ team, the Salish Strong, entered in the Buckskin that made it to the consolation final as well as a good entourage of youth players from Penelakut.


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don.bodger@chemainusvalleycourier.ca

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From left: Braden George, Shane Brown and Caden Jack form a wall at the net for the Penelakut Thunder. (Photo by Kevin Rothbauer/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

From left: Braden George, Shane Brown and Caden Jack form a wall at the net for the Penelakut Thunder. (Photo by Kevin Rothbauer/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Shane Brown races away from pursuit by the Sliammon Braves. (Photo by Kevin Rothbauer/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Shane Brown races away from pursuit by the Sliammon Braves. (Photo by Kevin Rothbauer/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Raymond Sam goes up for the header, with Patrick Brown in support for the Penelakut Thunder. (Photo by Kevin Rothbauer/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Raymond Sam goes up for the header, with Patrick Brown in support for the Penelakut Thunder. (Photo by Kevin Rothbauer/Cowichan Valley Citizen)