All roads lead to Nelson this week as the Victoria Cougars take on three regional champs at the Cyclone Taylor Cup (April 10-13) to decide who will take home the junior B hockey provincial title.
For the Cougars, the tournament is a shot at redemption. In the last two seasons they’ve had to be content with silver medals.
“This year it’s about unfinished business,” said associate coach Thomas Kala. “It’s time for us to take home the gold.”
All the hard work and sacrifice this season has been for this opportunity, he said.
“The boys have been practising hard and they’re excited,” said Kala. “Especially the new guys who haven’t had a crack at winning yet. They’re going to do whatever it takes to seal the deal.”
The Cougars will face the winning teams of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (Beaver Valley Nitehawks), the Pacific Junior Hockey League (Aldergrove Kodiaks) as well as the host team (Nelson Leafs).
In an interesting twist, two local politicians have ramped up the pressure on two of the competing teams. Esquimalt-royal Roads MLA Maurine Karagianis has challenged Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall to a friendly wager on the outcome of the tournament.
“Whichever of our teams wins, the losing MLA, with the Speaker’s approval, will sport the opposing team’s jersey in the legislature and do a two-minute statement admitting defeat and praising the winning team,” Karagianis said in the B.C. legislature last week.
“I accept the bet gladly,” Mungall responded. “The Nelson Leafs aren’t just great hosts, they are also an exceptional Junior B Team, and I am confident in the outcome.”
It’s possible that neither team will win, and either the Beaver Valley Nitehawks or the Aldergrove Kodiaks will go home with the championship crown.
“Not going to happen,” said Karagianis.
“Not a chance,” added Mungall.