The Castlegar Rebels are just a few days away from competing for the Cyclone Taylor Cup, the B.C. Provincial Championships, April 11 – 14 in Comox, B.C.
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League champions will face the champions of the Pacific International Junior Hockey League (the Richmond Sockeyes), the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (the Victoria Cougars) and the host team, the Comox Valley Glacier Kings.
The Cyclone Taylor Cup is a round-robin format with the winner moving on to compete for the Western Canada “B” Crown, the Keystone Cup, against teams from Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan, April 18 – 21 in St. Malo, Manitoba.
Rebels coach and general manager, Steve Junker, had his team on the ice for a practice session on Sunday, April 7 at the Community Complex, coming off a well deserved rest after their win last Monday.
In an interview after winning game five of their final KIJHL series with the North Okanagan Knights, Junker said he hasn’t paid a lot of attention to the hockey being played in the other leagues but will be prepared for tough competition.
“I have no doubt that the teams out of those leagues will be top shelf,” he said.
Top shelf indeed: four of the top five scoring leaders in the VIJHL regular season are on the Victoria Cougars roster and they will be the team to watch out for.
The Cougars only lost one game of the 49 they played in regulation during the regular season.
They did surrender two overtime losses but were far and away the best team in the VIJHL, racking up 94 points. Their nearest rivals, in comparison, were the Saanich Braves at 64.
Forward Brody Coulter, in particular, had a monster season with 39 goals and 79 assists for the Victoria team.
The Cougars lost just two games in the playoffs en route to their second straight VIJHL championship — their fifth since 2004.
The Richmond Sockeyes, meanwhile, were no slouches on the regular season with a 32-8-0-4 record.
The Sockeyes will be looking for their fifth Cyclone Taylor Cup title, the most of any team in the PIJHL.
As for the host team, the Comox Valley Glacier Kings made their way though the first round of the playoffs with a sweep of the Oceanside Generals, won games three through six against the Nanaimo Buccaneers after being down two games to one, but then were swept themselves in the VIJHL finals by — you guessed it — the Cougars.
All in all, the Cyclone Taylor cup promises great on-ice action and the Castlegar Rebels team looked fast, focused and hungry during the practice session on Sunday.
“We’re excited to go to the island and represent the Kootenays,” said Rebels goaltender Jordan Gluck after the final game of the KIJHL season. “We’re going to give them hell and do our best.”
The Castlegar News will follow the games and provide regular updates at www.facebook.com/CastlegarNews, Twitter (@CastlegarNews) and CastlegarNews.com.