When he was little Brody Coulter, an eight-year-old playing in the Juan de Fuca minor hockey association, he was the type of kid who set his own alarm to wake mom and dad up for 5 a.m. weekday practices.
Twelve years later, you can bet Coulter’s alarm was set good and early on the eve of his last crack at a provincial championship.
Today (April 10) is travel day for the Victoria Cougars, as the reigning Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League champions bus to Courtenay for the 2013 Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial junior B championship, tomorrow (April 11) through Sunday.
Coulter, 20, has captained the team the past two seasons. He’s won trophies as the VIJHL’s top forward in 2011-12 and as the VIJHL’s MVP and scoring leader in 2012-13.
Two weeks ago the Cougars eliminated the Comox Valley Glacier Kings in four games to make it back-to-back Brent Patterson Memorial trophies as VIJHL playoff champs.
But there’s one thing still left, the Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial championship.
It’s a trophy that eluded Coulter’s dad, Scott, when he played defence for five seasons on the Island League’s Juan de Fuca Gulls in the 1980s.
“Brody’s definitely more of a goal scorer,” said Scott, who will attend the Cyclone Cup with wife Hollie, Brody’s mom. Both took time off work.
“I was a little grittier, but then, the league was different then. When (Brody) was younger, we worked on his hands. I taught him (to play) different than the way I played,” Scott said.
In 1986-87 Scott was named the Island League’s unsung hero, won this year by Cougars forward Mark Walton.
The Gulls won the league that season but fell short at the provincials, Scott’s only appearance there. Scott and Hollie started dating during the Gulls years.
Brody was born in 1992, and grew up in Langford. Scott coached him at Juan de Fuca until he made rep in peewee.
As a teenager, Brody went back and forth between hockey and baseball. After he won the B.C. Premier Baseball League provincial championship in 2010 playing shortstop and second base for the Victoria Mariners, he made the Nanaimo Clippers of the B.C. Hockey League but was cut after a handful of games.
The Cougars invited him out and he excelled in the 2010-11 season. At the start of the 2011-12 year he was named captain, just 18 years old, young for a junior B team.
With a core that included current teammates Sam Rice and Walton, among others, Coulter helped lead the team to the Cyclone Taylor Cup 2012 gold medal game. A lucky bounce in overtime won the Abbotsford Pilots that game, and the championship.
Brody hasn’t forgot the feeling.
“It’s that feeling you have when you don’t win,” he said. “We’ve watched the video plenty of times, but not since the start of the year. It happens in hockey, a couple of bad bounces. It was a blocked shot that went back to the player on the point.”
Last year’s gold medal loss is seldom mentioned among Coulter and his Cougars teammates, many of whom returned this season. But it’s etched in the back of Brody’s mind, a driving factor throughout the season. He’s certain it’s in the back of his teammate’s minds, motivating them too.
“You take what you can from last year. The (Cyclone Taylor Cup) is a tourney where you can’t hold back, you have to go all out from the start.”
There’s no time to feel the other team out, he says. “It’s pretty important we come home with a gold medal this time.”
One thing the Cougars can count on is their captain being ready.
“We always talked to him about things, about working hard. But he’s always been a hard worker. He’s wanted to improve. We didn’t teach him that,” Scott said.
The Cyclone Taylor Cup features the Pacific Junior Hockey League champion Richmond Sockeyes Kootenay league champion Castlegar Rebels and host Glacier Kings.
Mark Walton’s face vs. the playoffs
Of all the subplots from the Victoria Cougars playoff run to the VIJHL final, the most gruesome has to be the beating taken by Mark Walton’s face.
In the final minutes of the first round series versus the Peninsula Panthers, Walton took a puck to the head. It blew his lip right open. He didn’t realize he’d been hit, until his teammates pointed out the blood on his jersey. Turns out he needed stitches. Walton wore a full shield for the second-round series versus the Saanich Braves.
By Game 4 in the VIJHL final against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings, Walton had taken the shield off. Too bad.
Walton engaged in a puck battle with Tyson Rennie, and when the two fell to the ice Rennie’s skate cut open Walton’s chin and cheek.
Remarkably, it only cost Walton 10 more stitches, but it was yet another gruesome sight. Pictures of the before and after are available for viewing on Twitter, for those who can stomach it.
Cyclone Taylor Cup schedule at Comox Valley Sports Centre
GAME 1: Thursday, Richmond Sockeyes vs. Victoria Cougars 3:30 p.m.GAME 2: Thursday, Castlegar Rebels vs. Comox Valley Glacier Kings 7:30 p.m.GAME 3: Friday, Cougars vs. Rebels 3:30 p.m.GAME 4: Friday, Glacier Kings vs. Sockeyes 7:30 p.m.GAME 5: Saturday, Rebels vs. Sockeyes 3:30 p.m.GAME 6: Saturday, Cougars vs. Glacier Kings 7:30 p.m.GAME 7: Sunday, (Bronze Medal Game) 10:30 a.m.GAME 8: Sunday, (Gold Medal Game) 2:30 p.m.