MISSION, B.C. — The Campbell River Storm will face the Kimberley Dynamiters in the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup final after defeating the Mission City Outlaws 3-2 to take first place in round-robin play at the B.C. Junior B championship.
“We’ve done everything we’ve had to do to win,” said Lee Stone, Storm head coach and general manager. “I still don’t think we’ve played our best game at this tournament and that’s something that we’re going to strive towards doing [Monday].”
Sunday evening’s round-robin finale saw the Storm and Outlaws go head-to-head, with the host team needing a regulation win in order to advance to the championship game against the KIJHL-champion Dynamiters.
Kimberley had advance to the Cyclone Taylor Cup final earlier in the day after defeating the North Vancouver Wolf Pack 5-4 in double-overtime.
A physical affair was tightly contested by both the Storm and Outlaws, but the ultimate undoing of Mission City came as they were unable to capitalize on a five-minute power play in the latter half of the third period.
“They score a goal there, it changes the complexion of the game,” Stone said. “For me, I was really impressed with our guys. Resiliency — it’s a word we use. We hop out in the second [period], we score a minute in. I didn’t even say a word to the boys. I let the captains talk in the first intermission. Once again, the captains step up, say what they needed to say and we score a minute into the period. It speaks volumes about our leadership and the guys we have in that room.”
The Outlaws were afforded the five-minute power play after Storm forward Reece Costain sent David McGowan dangerously into the end boards behind Campbell River goaltender Jesse Michel.
Costain was slapped with a five-minute major for charging, along with a game misconduct. As a result, he will be suspended for Monday’s Cyclone Taylor Cup final.
“It’s a challenge. That was a tough call,” Stone said. “It’s tough for the refs when you put them in that situation, they have to make the call they have to make. I thought we were a little undisciplined [against Mission City]. Our discipline this whole tournament, again, hasn’t necessarily been where we need it to be.
“[Costain] is a big piece to our puzzle. He’s super physical, wins face-offs. Losing him — there’s no other way to put it other than it’s a huge loss. We have guys that will step up.”
On the ensuing man advantage, the Outlaws struggled to get anything going before Bryce Pisiak took a boarding minor to negate the power play with 2:21 remaining on the advantage. Trailing the Storm 3-2 at the time, there was no better opportunity for the host team to draw even, but a tie game never came to fruition.
The Storm battled a late push from the Outlaws to hold on for a 3-2 victory.
Storm defenceman Trent Johnson scored the eventual game-winning goal midway through the second period and was named player of the game for Campbell River.
“We were just working hard. I called for the puck,” Johnson said. “We did a little give-and-go and I fired at the net and it went in.
“It feels great. We’ve been working for this all year. It’s really our dream come true. We’ve worked for it and we deserve it.”
Kyle Lennea made things interesting in the third period, sending a one-timer from the right circle past Michel to cut the Storm lead to 3-2.
The two teams exchanged power-play goals in the first period, with Storm forward Michael Olson opening the festivities less than five minutes in.
Outlaws forward Brody Dyck scored less than six minutes later, using a bank shot from below the goal line and off the back of Michel to tie the game 1-1.
The Storm reclaimed the lead 58 seconds into the second period. A point shot from Trevor Bottomley was redirected and failed to find the net, but instead landed on the stick of Colin Blake. With Outlaws goaltender Bryce Phenix tracking the original shot, there wasn’t much he could do to readjust as Blake deposited the ricochet into a yawning cage.
Phenix made 31 saves on 34 shots, doing everything in his power to give the Outlaws a chance.
At the other end, Michel made 26 stops on 28 shots, including a beautiful kick stop in the second period to preserve a 2-1 Storm lead.
Stone has alternated between keepers to this point in the Cyclone Taylor Cup, with Michel opening the tournament with a 6-3 win over the North Vancouver Wolf Pack before Riley Welyk started in a 4-3 double-overtime win against the Kimberley Dynamiters.
“It probably just comes down to a gut feel more than anything,” Stone said. “We sit down and we talk about it. This is probably the hardest [decision] I’ve had to make so far.
“For us, I’m very confident in either goalie that’s going to go in. Kimberley hasn’t seen Michel yet. They’ve seen Welyk. Does that play into it? I’m not sure. We’re prepared to win with either goalie in net.”
Having finished first through round-robin play, the Storm will hold home-ice advantage and the last change when they take on the Dynamiters for the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. (PST).
“Shift by shift — same message they’re going to give their players — just win your shift,” Stone said. “Win every battle. Kimberley is a team that’s going to sell out — they’re going to do anything and everything to win a game.
“I would have to imagine they’re getting a little tired. They’ve played a lot of hockey. For us, we want to keep our feet moving. We want to establish our forecheck a little better than we did last time we played them.
“They’re a great team. We want to limit them. That’s the best we can do. They’re going to get their chances and they’ve got their top guys that are going to create.”
As for the Outlaws, they move on to battle the North Vancouver Wolf Pack for the bronze medal game at 11 a.m. (PST).
The winner of the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup advances to the 2015 Keystone Cup — Western Canada’s Junior B championship — in Cold Lake, Alta., April 16 to 19.
The Townsman/Bulletin has you covered for the entire 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup as sports editor Taylor Rocca joins the Kimberley Dynamiters in Mission. For full coverage of the Cyclone Taylor Cup, follow Taylor on Twitter (@taylorrocca) and watch dailytownsman.com/kijhl/ and dailybulletin.ca/kijhl/ for daily game stories.