Victoria Cougars win VIJHL final; join Campbell River Storm in Cyclone Taylor tourney

The Victoria Cougars defeated the Campbell River Storm 4-2 late Tuesday night to win the Brent Patterson Trophy as Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League champions.

The Cougars won the best-of-seven VIJHL final series 4-1. The Storm won the first game of the series 4-0 followed by four consecutive Cougars wins of 5-2, 4-0, 5-0 and 4-2.

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It was the fourth time in five years the Cougars and Campbell River have met in the league final, and was also the Storm’s fifth consecutive appearance in the final. During that run, the Storm were VIJHL champions in 2015, 2017 and 2018; the Cougars in 2016 and now in 2019.

The Storm were the defending 2018 champions after defeating the Saanich Braves, the latter making their first finals appearance since 1996, in seven games last year.

The path for the regular-season, second-seed Cougars (28-12-8) included dispatching the seventh-seed Oceanside Generals (18-25-5) in five games in the first round of the playoffs before besting the third-seed Nanaimo Buccaneers (26-18-4) in a six-game semifinal series.

The top-seed Storm (34-10-4) won the Andy Hebenton Trophy as regular-season champions, but were hard-pressed to get past the upset-minded eighth-seed Peninsula Panthers in a seven-game first- round series. Campbell River survived and then swept their 2018 finals opponent, fifth-seed Saanich (21-17-10), in four games in the semifinals.

The VIJHL champion annually advances to the Fred Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial Junior B championship tournament. Because the 2019 Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament will be hosted at Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River April 11 to 14, the Storm were already assured a berth as host team.

So the Storm and Cougars were both guaranteed to advance to the Cyclone Taylor Cup, regardless of who won the VIJHL final.

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