Victoria Cougars make final of Cyclone Taylor Cup

The Fred Cyclone Taylor Cup, named after a Stanley Cup champion and B.C. legend of another era, is the ultimate prize in provincial Junior B hockey.

And an elusive one.

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The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League has produced NHLers Jamie and Jordie Benn, Matt Irwin, Adam Cracknell and Ryan O’Byrne. But none of them lifted the Cyclone Taylor Cup.

Only six Island teams have won it — the Comox Totems in 1967, Victoria Cubs in 1971, Saanich Braves in 1976, Victoria Cougars in 2007, Peninsula Panthers in 2011 and Campbell River Storm in 2015.

There will be a VIJHL representative in the championship game of the 2019 tournament taking place at Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River.

The VIJHL-champion Victoria Cougars blanked the Pacific Junior Hockey League-champion North Vancouver Wolf Pack 3-0 Saturday afternoon on two goals and three points by Bryce Irwin and a 32-save shutout by 20-year-old Smithers-native Owen Sikkes.

That advanced the Cougars to today’s Cup final at 3 p.m. in the rink named after the former Stanley Cup champion Brind’Amour, from Campbell River.

The Cougars finished the round-robin 2-0-1 after beating the Revelstoke Grizzlies, champions of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, 4-1 on Thursday before losing 3-2 in overtime Friday to the host Storm on a goal by Reid Wheeldon at just 26 seconds of extra time.

Campbell River, playing in the final game of the round robin late Saturday night against Revelstoke, was trying to make it an all-Island final. The Storm would advance to meet the Cougars in today’s championship game if they beat the Grizzlies in regulation time. The Storm-Grizzlies game was in progress at press time.

In other round-robins results in the tournament, North Vancouver beat Campbell River 5-2 and Revelstoke beat North Vancouver 5-1.

A Cougars-Storm final would be a reprise of the recent best-of-seven VIJHL final, won 4-1 by the Cougars.

This is the fifth time the Cougars have advanced to the Cyclone Taylor Cup championship game since 2007. They beat the Abbotsford Pilots 4-1 in 2007 and lost 3-2 to the Pilots in double overtime in 2012, then lost 4-1 to the Richmond Sockeyes in 2013 and went down 5-4 to the 100 Mile House Wranglers in 2016.

Campbell River’s most recent championship-game appearances were the 6-5 victory over the Kimberley Dynamiters in 2015 and a 6-2 loss to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in 2017.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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