Hockey fans in 100 Mile House have something to celebrate.
Likewise, back home in Williams Lake, three lakecity hockey players — Justin Bond, Tyler Povelofskie and Kolten Carpenter — are doing the same after their team, the 100 Mile House Wranglers, knocked off the Kimberly Dynamiters 2-1 in front of a raucous crowd Thursday at the South Cariboo Rec Centre to win the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League championship by a 4-1 margin in the best-of-seven series.
It’s the team’s first KIJHL championship in just its third season in the league.
“It’s great to win,” Povelofskie, the Wranglers’ assistant captain, told the Tribune. “And it’s great for 100 Mile, too. It’s their third year and everyone’s really come together and made it possible to put a team on the ice. Not just a team, but a good team, and a team they’re going to be proud of.”
Bond, the team’s second-highest point producer during the regular season with 20 goals and 19 assists and top scorer during the playoffs with 13 goals and nine assists, said it was a special moment to win in front of the home crowd in 100 Mile House.
Povelofskie, a past RBC Cup winner with the Junior A Vernon Vipers, finished the post season with four goals and three assists. Carpenter, a gritty defenceman, had two assists during playoffs.
“It’s pretty special,” Bond said. “We had a big, strong team this year and that helped us through the playoffs. We went into their arena and got the first win there and that was pretty big. They hadn’t lost yet in their arena in playoffs.
“That meant a lot coming home. We knew we had a good chance. We won the first two and said there’s one more to go, might as well do it here.”
Bond and Povelofskie said the fans in 100 Mile House were phenomenal throughout the regular season and the playoffs in supporting the team.
“It’s a huge part of it,” Povelofskie said. “We can’t do anything without them. They’re there right beside us every night win or lose. Doesn’t matter if it’s Tuesday or Saturday, they’re always there.”
Both also said it was nice to have fellow Williams Lake players on the team — players they climbed through the ranks of the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association with.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Povelofskie said. “It’s fun going to the rink and it’s fun leaving the rink. Having those guys [Bond and Carpenter] gives me someone to drive down with. We almost always drive together. I’ve played with probably most of the team — either with or against — throughout minor hockey and it’s fun we all ended up in the same place.”
The team’s path to the KIJHL title consisted of playoff series wins over the Revelstoke Grizzlies (4-0), the Chase Heat (4-2), the Summerland Steam (4-1) and the Kimberly Dynamiters (4-1).
The Dynamiters were last year’s KIJHL champions and finished this year’s regular season with the best overall record with 41 wins and seven losses.
The Wranglers, meanwhile, now advance to the Cyclone Taylor Cup — B.C.’s Junior B hockey championship — and will face off in a round-robin style tournament in Victoria beginning this Thursday with the Mission City Outlaws of the Pacific Junior Hockey League, the Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League and the Victoria Cougars of the Pacific Junior Hockey League.
“It will be interesting because we don’t get to play those teams,” Bond said.
“There will be some tough matches — everyone deserves to be there — but I think we’ll stack up OK.”
Povelofskie added it should be a good tournament, where the winner will advance to the Western Canadian junior B championship, the Keystone Cup.
“It’s going to be a lot different than our best-of-seven playoff series [so far],” Povelofskie said. “But good teams find a way to win. I think we’re a good team and I think we’ll be able to do it.”