Sports

UPDATE: Stamps two-peat as Coy Cup champions

UPDATE (March 17)

The Williams Lake Stampeders, for the second year in a row and the third time in franchise history, are Coy Cup senior men’s ‘AA’ provincial hockey champions.

The Stampeders defeated the Terrace River Kings 6-2 Saturday night in front of an absolutely jam-packed house at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

Williams Lake’s Nathan Zurak, who played through the tournament with a broken hand, recorded a hat trick in Saturday night’s win and was also named player of the game. Stamps’ goaltender Justin Foote held down the fort, turning aside 25 of 27 shots.

Providing the rest of the Stampeders’ scoring were defenceman Brent McIsaac, Mike Simoes and Stu Sasges.  For the River Kings assistant captain Josh Murray found the twine, before Corey Dekelvar added a single tally midway through the third.

“The past two Coy Cups we had won felt pretty amazing but I still can’t say they compare to doing it in front of your home crowd with all your friends and family there supporting you,” Zurak said.

“All the players keep talking about how awesome our fan support was throughout the whole week. When we went out for warm up in the final game we had more people in the crowd than we’ve ever had in the seven years I’ve played for the Stampeders.

“It was a great memory that all the players will have.”

Longtime Williams Lake Stampeder and assistant captain Francis Johnson, who proudly shared a Coy Cup moment during the closing ceremonies with his dad, Stampders’ super fan Francis Johnson Sr., added winning a Coy Cup at home is a rare event. The last time the Coy Cup tournament was held in Williams Lake was in 1996. The Stampeders won their first Coy Cup in 2009.

“We wanted to share the experience with our family, friends, fans and the team organizers who put a lot of work and sacrifices in for the team,” Johnson said.

“Hockey in Williams Lake is not only about hockey, but bringing people together and the event organizers and volunteers really outdid themselves.

“I’ve been to nine Coy Cups and from my biased opinion I thought it was the most well-organized event I have attended and it was the first tournament I’ve been to that included the local First Nations in the opening ceremonies.”

To reach the finals Williams Lake downed the Fort Nelson Yeti 3-1 Friday night, while the River Kings’ path to the championship game consisted of a bye to the final after they finished the round robin in first place with two wins and a tie.

The Smithers Steelheads, meanwhile, were ousted from the tournament Thursday after finishing fourth in the round robin.

Johnson said after losing in the Central Interior Hockey League playoff finals the week before to the Steelheads, the Stampeders were determined to seek redemption. That came in the form of a 7-0 round robin win over Smithers Wednesday night.

“As the tournament progressed I thought our biggest improvement came in our team defensive play,” he said.

Zurak echoed Johnson’s comments.

“Earlier in the week our game, at times, was a little inconsistent but as the week went on and the games became more important everybody started making sure they played strong at both ends of the ice without taking shifts off,” he said.

Prior to Tuesday night’s game between Williams Lake and Fort Nelson all four teams, plus dignitaries, paid tribute to past Stampeders’ alumni, the Coy Cup tournament organizing committee and many members of the community who stepped forward to volunteer for the event.

Alumni were each presented 2014 Coy Cup emblematic pucks to commemorate the occasion.

UPDATE (March 13)

The Williams Lake Stampeders are guaranteed at least a semifinal berth in this year’s 2014 Coy Cup Senior Men’s ‘AA’ Hockey Championship.

The Stampeders and the Fort Nelson Yeti treated fans to one of the best hockey games this city has seen in recent memory Tuesday — an 8-7 home side win — before Williams Lake shocked the Smithers Steelheads 7-0 Wednesday, a team that had beaten them just two weeks prior in the Central Interior Hockey League playoff finals.

If the Stampeders defeat the Terrace River Kings tonight (Thursday, March 13), Williams Lake will earn an automatic bye into Saturday night’s 8 p.m. tournament final after finishing the round robin with a perfect three wins and no losses. If Terrace takes the win then the River Kings will earn the bye, finishing the round robin with two wins and one tie.

Williams Lake will then play in Friday night’s 8 p.m. semifinal should the latter scenario occur.

The third and final semifinal berth will go to either the Steelheads or the Yeti, depending on the result of their Thursday night tilt.

Scoring for Williams Lake in the 7-0 win over the Steelheads Wednesday were Nathan Zurak (2-1-3), Tyrel Lucas (1-2-3), Andrew Fisher (1-0-1), Jassi Sangha (1-0-1), Stu Sasges (1-0-1) and Derrick Walters (1-0-1).

Justin Foote picked up the win in goal for the Stampeders.

Wednesday night’s other matchup saw the River Kings wash out the Yeti, 5-3.

Terrace spread its offence around to five different goal scorers: Ben Reinbolt, Derick Jurista, Tristan Murray, Nick Homeniuk and Corey Dekelvar.

For the Yeti it was Kane Dawe lighting the lamp twice and John Murgatroyd tallying once in the losing effort.

Prior to Tuesday night’s game between Williams Lake and Fort Nelson all four teams, plus dignitaries, paid tribute to past Stampeders’ alumni, the Coy Cup tournament organizing committee and many members of the community who stepped forward to volunteer for the event. Alumni were each presented 2014 Coy Cup emblematic pucks to commemorate the occasion.

Both the semifinal and the final go at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

A licenced beer garden is open after 7 p.m. for those 19 and older.

For a slideshow and more Coy Cup stories visit the Tribune/Weekend Advisor website at www.wltribune.com.

ORIGINAL STORY (posted March 12)

The Williams Lake Stampeders marched away the victors Tuesday night, but the Fort Nelson Yeti put the rest of the Coy Cup tournament field on notice they aren't to be taken lightly.

In front of a near sold-out Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex crowd and playing their senior men's 'AA' provincial championship opener, the Stampeders and the Yeti — a first-year team that hopes to join either the Central Interior Hockey League or the North Peace Hockey League next year — went down to the wire.

Williams Lake's Matt Lees provided the heroics, lighting the lamp for the game winner on Yeti netminder Cory Mceachran with 2:35 remaining in a goal-scoring bonanza to give his team an 8-7 victory.

Stampeders' goaltender Justin Foote picked up the win between the pipes stopping 28 of 35 shots, while Mceachran faced a 39-shot barrage in the losing effort. To win Williams Lake recovered from a 5-2 deficit in the second period.

Both Tyrel Lucas and Lees picked up hat tricks for the Stampeders.

Williams Lake scored first in the contest but the Yeti exited the first period up 3-2, outshooting Williams Lake 14-6.

The second period saw both teams score three times, before Williams Lake outdueled the Yeti in the third to pot three goals to secure the win.

Also scoring for the Stampeders were Andrew Fisher and Greg Nickel. Stamps' assistant captain Stu Sasges chipped in two assists.

Coy Cup action took place earlier in the evening with the tournament's other two teams, the Terrace River Kings and the Smithers Steelheads, skating to a 2-2 tie.

Calvin Johnson opened the scoring early in the first for Smithers, before Terrace captain Steve Cullis evened it up at 1-1 in the second.

Josh Murray gave the River Kings a 2-1 lead near the midway mark of the third period, but Matt Arnold was quick to retaliate for the Steelheads with just under 10 minutes left to play in the game, before a five-minute sudden-death overtime solved nothing.

Prior to last night's game between Williams Lake and Fort Nelson all four teams, plus dignitaries, paid tribute to past Stampeders' alumni, the tournament organizing committee and members of the community who stepped forward to volunteer for the event.

The Coy Cup senior men's 'AA' provincial hockey championship continues throughout the week in Williams Lake, with more games tonight at the CMRC.

At 5 p.m. the Yeti take on the River Kings, before Williams Lake meets this year's Central Interior Hockey League champions, the Steelheads, at 8 p.m.

On Thursday the Stampeders are back in action again at 8 p.m., this time taking on the River Kings. Depending on how the round robin results shape up, the tournament semifinal goes Friday at 8 p.m. with the second-place and third-place teams squaring off.

The round robin winner gets a bye to Saturday night's 8 p.m. final.

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