MISSION, B.C. — A long and winding road has come to a bittersweet end for the Kimberley Dynamiters as the Campbell River Storm claimed the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup championship with a 6-5 victory Monday afternoon at the Mission Leisure Centre.
Through 82 total games (including exhibition, regular season, playoffs and Cyclone Taylor Cup play) the Kimberley Dynamiters battled tooth and nail to claim a KIJHL championship before finishing second at the annual B.C. Junior B championship.
“This is one of the best groups of athletes I’ve ever worked with, best group of people I’ve ever worked with,” said Kimberley Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks. “I’m so extremely proud of them. We filled our room with character…and character darn near pulled it off, against all odds.
“I will remember this group as being a great group of people. That’s what I will remember. There’s a great lesson in life — surround yourself with good people and good things flow from there. Right from the assistant coaches to all the people who volunteer their time, it’s been a wonderful experience for me.
“A lot of these guys learned to be hockey men.”
Defenceman Trevor Bottomley scored the game-winning goal on a third-period power play and dangerous Dane Feeney was named player of the game for the Campbell River Storm.
Dynamiters captain Jason Richter was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while goaltender Tyson Brouwer was named the Tournament’s Most Inspirational Player.
“It’s been an unreal year,” Richter said. “Guys have grown throughout the year. We’ve had our ups and downs for sure.
“This is definitely the tightest team I’ve ever been with. We’ve gone through so much together. It’s been an unreal year. Obviously not the way we wanted to end it off, but I have no regrets. Neither does the team.
“They’re all brothers to me. I can trust them with anything…We have the tightest group of kids out of any team in the league, out of any team ever…Everyone loves each other. After the game, we’re in the room hugging each other and we’ve got guys crying. Everyone’s crying. But we still have guys trying to pick each other up just because we have that love. We have that family mentality. We’ll have that brotherhood throughout life.”
The Storm opened the scoring 5:45 into the first period of the Cyclone Taylor Cup final as defenceman Nathan Browne sent a power-play point shot past Brouwer for a 1-0 lead.
Midway through the period, the Dynamiters drew even.
Alex Rosolowsky carried in over the Storm blueline before dishing to Jordan Roy down the left side. The 16-year-old Roy fired a harmless looking shot towards Storm goaltender Jesse Michel, and somehow, the puck found a way through to the back of the net.
The see-saw contest continued in the second period with Storm affiliate player Dawson Frank restoring the Campbell River lead midway through.
All it took was 2:11 before the KIJHL champions struck back.
With the Storm on the power play, California native Keenan Haase forced a turnover at the Dynamiters blueline. Jason Richter corralled the loose puck, bursting down the left wing into enemy territory before firing on net. A rebound came to Haase who managed to tuck it past Michel to tie the game 2-2.
Before the second period came to a close, Feeney restored the Storm lead taking a pass in tight to Brouwer’s crease before sending a quick shot to the top shelf.
Less than five minutes into the third period, the Storm extended the lead to two goals as Trent Johnson wheeled down the left wing before picking a tiny hole high short side on Brouwer.
With Will McNamara serving a two-minute minor for tripping, the Dynamiters took advantage as Roy returned an earlier favour, dishing to Rosolowsky on the backdoor to pull the Nitros within one.
A mere 29 seconds was all it took for the Storm to restore the two-goal edge as Michael Olson sent a backhand shot to the top corner for a 5-3 Campbell River lead.
With less than 10 minutes to go, Nitros defenceman Justin Meier shook the Mission Leisure Centre, and Storm forward Gavin Rauser, with a jarring hit at centre ice.
Rauser stayed down as Meier was handed a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking to the head.
On the ensuing power play, Bottomley tallied the game-winning marker with a long point shot.
The Storm looked comfortable with a 6-3 lead, but this game was far from over.
“We knew we had to keep going,” Richter said.
“Just keep going, boys. That’s pretty much all that was said.”
With 2:20 remaining on the clock and Brouwer at the bench for the extra attacker the Dynamiters kept going as Jared Marchi sent a backdoor feed onto the tape of Richter, who converted on the play to make it a 6-4 game.
With time ticking down, Jordan Busch sent a seeing-eye point shot towards Michel and found the back of the net to make it a 6-5 game with 45 seconds to play.
“That explains us in a nutshell,” Bancks said. “Nobody quit. Nobody gave up. I always call us a resilient group. When you stop to think about the amount of hockey we’ve had to play in the last 46 days, it’s pretty incredible to do what we did.
“I am so proud of this group. And I’m so proud of the KIJHL.
“Creston played us one-goal game after one-goal game. Fernie — everybody probably predicted them to be playing Osoyoos [in the KIJHL final] — so you know how good they were with great goaltending. Then we get Beaver Valley who hit us hard and finished every check. We got through them and then we got to go to Kamloops where they were big and fast. It’s a pretty amazing run. A pretty incredible run, to be honest. To get within one goal here and everything else is pretty amazing. You don’t do it without character.”
To be precise, the Dynamiters played a whopping 26 games in 46 days from the time the post-season opened (Feb. 20 vs. Creston) to the sound of the very final buzzer Monday afternoon in Mission.
For comparison’s sake, the Campbell River Storm battled through 17 post-season games in 59 days since their playoff run began Feb. 6 against the Oceanside Generals.
But that was as much as the Nitros were able to muster, as the Storm held out through a tense final 45 seconds to claim the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup.
“It’s surreal. These kids deserve everything they get. They’re the hardest-working kids,” said Lee Stone, head coach and general manager of the Campbell River Storm. “They show up at the rink every day, they’re in the gym four times a week. I’m speechless. These kids are amazing. These kids are going to be a part of my life for the rest of my life. It’s special.
“It’s an electric feeling, for sure.
“You have to give kudos to the Dynamiters. They’re such an unbelievable hockey club. To win the KIJHL championship and to come here and still be able to compete the way they did after playing as many games as they did — kudos to Jerry Bancks and those boys. They’re an exceptional hockey club.
“I think [Bancks] said it best in the handshake, ‘These are the two best teams in Junior B.’ And that’s the way it should be.”
Michel made 20 saves for his third win of the tournament, while Brouwer turned aside 16 Campbell River shots.
The Dynamiters finished the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup with a 2-2 record, their only two losses coming against the Campbell River Storm.
The Nitros topped the Mission City Outlaws 2-1 before defeating the North Vancouver Wolf Pack 5-4 in double overtime.
For the Kimberley Dynamiters, their season comes to a close after bringing home Kimberley’s first KIJHL championship since the Kimberley Knights won it all in 1980.
For the Campbell River Storm, they carry on to the Keystone Cup — Western Canada’s Junior B championship — April 16 to 19 in Cold Lake, Alta.
Notes: Both the Dynamiters and Storm went without key pieces Monday, as Kimberley F Coy Prevost and Campbell River F Reece Costain were suspended…The host Mission City Outlaws defeated the North Vancouver Wolf Pack 7-0 earlier Monday to claim the bronze medal…