Cougars season ends in shock

Victoria Cougars crushed by Abbotsford Pilots double overtime winner in Cyclone Taylor Cup gold medal game

Abbotsford Pilots goalie Riley Parker deflects a save past the net as Victoria Cougars captain Brody Coulter fights for position in front of the net with Pilots defenceman Matthew Genovese and Brett Kolins

Abbotsford Pilots goalie Riley Parker deflects a save past the net as Victoria Cougars captain Brody Coulter fights for position in front of the net with Pilots defenceman Matthew Genovese and Brett Kolins



On a lucky bounce, so ended the Victoria Cougars attempt at a championship hockey season.

The Cougars lost in double overtime of the Cyclone Taylor Cup gold medal final on Sunday (April 15).

The host Abbotsford Pilots came back to tie the game 2-2 in the third, and later won it, crushing the Cougars’ season worth of work, all to win the provincial junior B hockey championship.

“It was difficult to have such a great season (end that way),” said Cougars coach Mark Van Helvoirt.

“It’s tough to swallow but looking back it’s (also) tough to call this an unsuccessful season.”

The Cougars cleaned out the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, clinching the Andy Hebenton Trophy as regular season champs months before the season ended. In the playoffs, the Cougars lost once in nine games to take the Brent Patterson Memorial Trophy league championship.

The Esquimalt-based club was the top ranked junior B team in B.C., and was the favourite to win the Cyclone Cup, which the Peninsula Panthers won last year. Instead, the Pilots will represent B.C. at the Keystone Cup, Western Canadian Championships in Saskatoon, Sask., this coming weekend.

Bannister’s banner year

Chris Bannister ended his junior hockey career in fine fashion, leading the tournament in goals with six. He also scored the Cougars’ first goal in all four Cyclone Cup games.

Bannister’s heroics started in the second period of Game 1 of the round robin on Thursday (April 12), which the Cougars won 3-2. He scored all three goals, including the game-winner in the third.

In Game 2, the Cougars defeated the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 3-0. Bannister broke a scoreless tie in the period, his fourth straight for the Cougars, followed by goals from Josh Wyatt and Sam Rice.

Evan Roch earned the first two wins, including the shutout, stopping all 27 of the Nitehawks’ shots.

Having clinched a spot in the final, Bryce Halverson, who was lights out as the Cougars’ starter during the regular season, played in net for Game 3. It was a mean nothing match against the Delta Ice Hawks on Saturday, with Roch getting a rest day. Bannister scored the team’s first goal, his fifth of the tournament, and Colin Minardi scored the other goal as the Cougars lost 7-2.

Bannister opened the scoring of the gold medal game in the second period. Riley Lamb tied it for the Pilots but captain Brody Coulter put the Cougars up 2-1 on a power play goal, assisted by Bannister.

The Cougars went on defensive lockdown in the third period, not giving up any scoring chances, Van Helvoirt said. So when the Pilots scored on a pinball of a point shot from defenceman Matthew Genovese, it was a shocker, to say the least.

“It was one in a million. We played a textbook third period. They didn’t have any scoring opportunities, and (the tying goal) didn’t have enough power to knock over a pop bottle.”

Then it got worse.

The Cougars were stuck in defensive mode for overtime and didn’t get enough of a push going to create some chances, said their coach.

The end came at four minutes and 17 seconds into the second overtime period. A standard shot from the point, the kind a defensive defenceman such as Garrett Lynum would make in an attempt to create offence via a rebound or deflection, somehow managed to handcuff Roch and sneak into the net.

It set off an epic celebration with the Pilots, and an epic collapse in morale, be it temporarily, to the Cougars.

Former junior A Victoria Grizzlies defenceman Brett Kolins, captain of the Pilots, was named MVP of the tournament.

Had the Cougars won, the trophy would likely have been Bannister’s, who played an opportunistic game and was defensively sound throughout.

“He was a force,” Van Helvoirt said.

“The development of these players, and their growth as individuals has been tremendous this year, and at this level that’s what it’s all about. I’m thankful to the players and organization, for putting together such a good year. It was a lot of hard work.”

It was Van Helvoirt’s fourth trip to the Cyclone Cup as an assistant and head coach, dating back to the 2004-05 season.

sports@vicnews.com

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

February 17, 2021 - Kaelyn (L) and Costin Campbell are Goldstream News Gazette 2021 Local Heroes.
Pint-sized duo inspires others to be green

Costin and Kaelyn Campbell are this year’s Environmental Heroes

Erin Oldman received a scholarship through Royal Roads University (RRU), called the Legacy Award, which is given out once every five years. Oldman graduated from RRU with a Masters of Arts in Human Security and Peacebuilding, and is using the award to establish a charity called International Humanitarian Assessments, which helps people in war-torn areas of the Middle East. (Photo contributed by Erin Oldman)
Royal Roads University graduate receives $25,000 award

Erin Oldman will use the award to establish a charity in the Middle East

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Most Read