MISSION, B.C. — It certainly happened in dramatic fashion, but one way or another, the Campbell River Storm claimed the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup with a 6-5 victory over the Kimberley Dynamiters Monday at the Mission Leisure Centre.
“It’s surreal. It’s hard to explain. These kids deserve everything they get,” said Lee Stone, Storm head coach and general manager. “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 so special.
“It’s an electric feeling.”
For the Storm, this is the first Cyclone Taylor Cup championship since 1998-99 and second in franchise history.
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 his team.
“It’s unbelievable. We’ve got such a great group here and we worked so hard to get to this point,” Feeney said. “We worked for every little bit. It just feels so rewarding.”
Dynamiters captain Jason Richter was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while goaltender Tyson Brouwer was named the Tournament’s Most Inspirational Player.
The Storm opened the scoring 5:45 into the first period 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, 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,” said Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks. “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…To get within one goal here and everything else is pretty amazing. You don’t do it without character.”
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.
“We knew they weren’t going to go away,” Stone said. “I don’t know if I expected them to make it close like that, but we’ve been dramatic all year. We wanted to give our fans a show I guess.
“The word resiliency — we’ve battled back from lots of things. We’re missing Tyler Welsh — who’s one of our best players and not in the tournament. Costain’s out today. Zack Sanderson’s out. We had nine regular forwards in our lineup tonight. But guys just kept stepping up everywhere. That’s what sums up our team. It was never the same guy. It was always a different player. That’s the real true calling for a great team.”
Michel made 20 saves for his third win of the tournament, while Brouwer turned aside 16 Campbell River shots.
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. ‘
The Storm ran the table at the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup, doubling the North Vancouver Wolf Pack 6-3 (Friday) before edging the Dynamiters 5-4 in double overtime (Saturday). The Storm wrapped up round-robin play with a nail-biting 3-2 win over the host Mission City Outlaws (Sunday) before claiming the title against Kimberley.
Next, the Campbell River Storm carry on to the Keystone Cup — Western Canada’s Junior B championship — April 16 to 19 in Cold Lake, Alta.
“It’s motivation — the Vancouver Island League has never won the Keystone Cup,” Stone said. “This is a chance for us to make history and that’s the plan. The minute we came together at training camp this year it wasn’t just a VI title, it wasn’t just a Cyclone Taylor title. We wanted to win everything. Now, it’s get back to work. Take a couple days to enjoy this but right back to work and get ready for Cold Lake.”
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…