Sports

Nitehawks win Cyclone Taylor Cup

McKoy Hauck (l) and Tyler Hartman took their turn at hoisting the Cyclone Taylor Cup after winning the BC Junior B Hockey Championship in John Bucyk Arena on Sunday night. - Lorne Eckersley
McKoy Hauck (l) and Tyler Hartman took their turn at hoisting the Cyclone Taylor Cup after winning the BC Junior B Hockey Championship in John Bucyk Arena on Sunday night.
— image credit: Lorne Eckersley

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks are the 2017 Cyclone Taylor Cup champions after knocking off the Campbell River storm 6-2 in Creston on Sunday night.

The Nitehawks, Kootenay International Junior Hockey League champions, were full value for the win after giving up the first goal only 28 seconds into the game. The teams traded three more first period goals before Blake Sidoni gave Beaver Valley a 3-2 lead, one that they would not relinquish.

Pearce Messer opened the scoring for the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League champions. Dylan Heppler scored Beaver Valley’s first two goals, with Carter Hikichi sandwiching a short-handed effort in between.

Goals by Karsten Jang and Bradley Ross gave the Nitehawks a 5-2 lead after 40 minutes of play, and Nolan Percival put the icing on the Gold Medal cake with an empty netter late in the game.

A crowd of about 800 watched the fast-paced game that eventually turned in favour of Beaver Valley, who were solid in all aspects of the game. Tallon Kramer, the top KIJHL goalie this year, continued his stellar play by stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced.

To reach the final game, the Nitehawks shutout the Storm 6-0 in the first round robin game, then routed the host Creston Valley Thunder Cats 6-2 on Friday night. A 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Aldergrove Kodiaks (Pacific Junior Hockey League champs) was the only blot on Beaver Valley’s perfect record.

Campbell River overcame an opening night 6-2 loss to Creston, a game that followed a day-long drive to Creston on Wednesday after a Sunday night win over the Victoria Cougars that took nearly 65 minutes of overtime to determine.

In Sunday afternoon’s Bronze Medal game, the Thunder Cats defeated Aldergrove 3-0, led by goaltender Brock Lefebvre’s second shutout of the tournament.

Beaver Valley now advances to the Keystone Cup in Ardborg, Manitoba on April 13-17, to vie for the Western Canadian championship.

Attendance totaled nearly 5,000 for the Cyclone Taylor Cup’s eight games.

Creston Valley Thunder Cats went into the Cyclone Taylor Cup last week knowing they would have to pull off an upset to become the BC Provincial Junior B Hockey Champions. After all, they were knocked out of the KIJHL playoffs by the Kimberley Dynamiters, who eventually succumbed to league champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks.

The Thunder Cats didn’t pull off a needed win against the eventual champions, but they acquitted themselves well, treating fans to an exciting Bronze medal game win and ending the tournament with a 2-2 record.

Game summaries follow.

Creston 2, Aldergrove 0

Creston Valley Thunder Cats put up solid goaltending and two short-handed goals to earn a 2-0 victory over the Aldergrove Kodiaks in Game 2 of the Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament on Thursday night.

The T-Cats, who hadn’t played a game in two weeks, came out with a solid first period effort, outshooting the Kodiaks 14-6, but skated off after 20 minutes with nothing to show for it.

Sebastian Kilcommons finally broke the ice at the 14:38 mark of the second period, scoring an unassisted marker while teammate Ronnie Wilkie looked on from the penalty box. Wilkie was serving his second slashing minor penalty of the period.

It was a period in which Aldergrove probably deserved more, outshooting Creston 12-10 and using their superior size to bounce around the smaller Thunder Cats. But goaltender Brock Levebvre was rock solid all night and never seemed to be out of position.

The Thunder Cats seemed to find their game legs in the final period and they were reward late in the game when Liam Plunkett finished off a ferocious forechecking effort on the penalty kill by putting the puck past huge Aldergove goalie Dawson Rodin. Aiden Wong earned an assist on the play.

Attendance: 700

Creston 2 – Campbell River 6

The Thunder Cats went into the game knowing it would be of little significance—to get into the Gold medal game, they would need to beat Beaver Valley the following night.

The Storm scored only 22 seconds into the game, then added a second goal five minutes later, and the Thunder Cats never really did threaten after that, being outskated and outworked for much of the game. Coach Jeff Dubois pulled Patrick Osterman from the net after a period in which he stopped 10 of 12 shots, and early in the second frame it looked like the ‘Cats might claw their way back into the game.

A power play marker by Thomas Cankovic at the 17 second mark drew Creston within one goal, but Campbell River responded with two goals of their own before the period was over, skating off with a 4-2 lead.

A short-handed effort by Liam Plunkett opened the third period scoring. Campbell River scored the final two goals, the last into an empty net.

Attendance: 730

Creston 2 – Beaver Valley 6

This was the game that would decide with KIJHL team would play for the Cyclone Taylor Cup and the Nitehawks showed why they finished the season on top in the standings and went on to win the league championship. The loss was not due to a lack of energy or effort by the home team.

After a scoreless opening period, Beaver Valley scored two goals 1:45 apart midway through the second. Brock Lefebvre deserved a better fate, but had no chance on a tipped shot from close in and a perfectly timed screen during a shot from the point. Creston narrowed the margin to 2-1 on a nice effort from Jonathan Lee to finish the period’s scoring.

But the Nitehawks came out flying, potting two goals in the first 3:17 of the third period and running up an insurmountable 5-1 lead. Michael Spenrath score late in the game but Beaver Valley added a late goal of their own.

Attendance: 1,000, a sellout that saw some fans being turned away at the door.

Creston 3 – Aldergrove 0

Disappointment in not making the final game didn’t translate to disappointment for their supportive fans in Sunday’s Bronze medal game. The Thunder Cats scored three times in the first half of opening period, with goals from Grant Iles, Bryce Sturm and Cole Arcuri (on the power play).

The final 50 minutes was scoreless, but fast and high-spirited, with end-to-end action throughout. Aldergrove narrowly outshot Creston 45-44. Brock Lefebvre was solid in net as he earned his second tournament shutout, but he got plenty of support from his defence and back-checking forwards.

The Kodiaks left a bit of a sour taste in Creston fans’ mouths, taking a couple of ugly five-minute majors as the game wound down, one for checking to the head and the other for spearing.

“It was great that we were able to win our last game of the season and go out on a high note winning the Bronze medal,” assistant coach Brad Tobin said on Monday. “Our guys were motivated to get the win for the town and the 20 year olds for their last junior hockey games. We came out in the first period flying and didn't let up throughout the game. Saturday against Beaver Valley the players put their hearts and souls out on the ice for 60 minutes, unfortunately it wasn't the result that we wanted.”

Attendance: 582

 

 

 

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