Cougars Weather Storm Surge to Capture Playoff Championship

Game 5 of the VIJHL finals was a battle from start to finish. The teams exchanged chances through the first 6 minutes until former Storm Brett Kinley won an offensive zone faceoff back to Captain Carl Ewert. Ewert passed over to his D partner, Nathan Ingram, who took a wrist shot from the point that bounced off Foster Martin’s shin pad and on to the stick of Kinley. Kinley made no mistake and put the puck in the back of the net for a 1-0 Cougars lead at 5:59. It was a goal-tenders dual between Owen Sikkes for the Cougars and Aaron de Kok for the Storm for the rest of the period. Shots after 1 were 10-9 in favour of the Storm.

In the second it looked like the Cougars were maybe going to start to walk away with it after Mateo Albinati converted a Booker Chacalias feed on the PP to make it 2-0 at the 6:48 mark. The other assist went to Marshall Brown. After the TV time out at the midway mark of the second the Storm surged in a big way. With the Cougars pressing it was Damon Porter who was able to grab the puck in his own zone and charge in on Sikkes on a breakaway. Porter made no mistake and ended Sikkes’ shutout streak at 158 minutes and 27 seconds. This gave the Storm life and seemed to take some of the energy out of the Cougars for rest of the period. With the Storm applying tons of pressure in the Cougars zone the Cougars tried to clear and Kyle Jennings held the puck in right at the blue-line. With some good cycling Darren Hards was able to get the puck to Davis Frank who took the puck to the slot and was able to backhand the puck and squeeze it through the pads of Sikkes. The score was tied at 2 after 2 periods.

The third saw frantic action at both ends of the rink with players from both teams throwing their bodies in front of the puck to keep it out of the net. Late in the period it was Nathan Ingram’s turn to play the hero at the blue-line. He kept the puck in at the blue-line and luckily Damon Porter dropped his stick which enabled Matt Clark to pick up the puck. Clark slid the puck over to Tyler Vanuden who took a shot which de Kok stopped but the rebound came out to Clark who gave the Cougars a 3-2 lead at 17:47 of the third. The Storm threw all they could muster at Sikkes but he held strong and at 19:11 Albinati scored his second of the game into an empty net with the assist going to Vanuden.

The game ended with a yard sale at the Cougars end. Sticks and gloves everywhere as the Cougars mobbed their backstop who was a huge reason they won the Championship. After the two teams shook hands the Cougars Captain, Carl Ewert went to centre ice to accept the Brent Patterson Memorial Trophy from League President Barb Byrne. In the ensuing celebration Mateo Albinati was able to sneak up on Head Coach Suneil Karod and give him a Gatorade shower. Video of this is on the Cougars Facebook page.

The playoffs are now over but there is still hockey to be played by both of these teams. The Storm are hosting the Provincial Championships, the Cyclone Taylor Cup. Games start in Campbell River at the Rod Brind’amour Arena on Thursday the 11th at 2:30pm with the Cougars taking on the KIJHL Champions. This will either be the Revelstoke Grizzlies or the Kimberley Dynamiters. Revelstoke is leading 3 games to 1 at press time. The evening game will be at 7:00pm when the Storm take on the PJHL Champions the North Vancouver Wolf Pack. The tournament ends Sunday with the Gold medal game at 3:00pm. For tickets or more information go to www.cyclonetaylorcup.ca

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