April 10 2019
After knocking last year’s BCMML Champion Fraser Valley Thunderbirds out in two straight (3-0, 8-2) to claim the BC title on March 30, the Cariboo Cougars were off to Calgary April 5 to contest the 2019 TELUS Cup Pacific Regional Championship vs the Alberta Midget AAA League champion Calgary Buffaloes.
The Buffaloes had downed the St. Albert Raiders three straight in a best of five, 7-4, and 4-3 and 3-2 in OT for the Alberta title.
The Pacific winner would go on to play in the TELUS Cup national midget championship, featuring a host Ontario team, plus the top teams from five other regions – Pacific, West, Central, Quebec and Atlantic, which gets underway in Thunder Bay April 22-28.
It was the first time in 10 years that the Buffaloes had made an appearance in the regional final – and they made the best of it.
Game 1, 5-2 Buffaloes
In game one last Friday (April 5) at Cardel Rec South in Calgary, the Buffaloes scored four unanswered, including three in the third, to take down the Cougars, 5-2, in game one of the best of three series.
The Cougars had arrived in Calgary that morning, after the long overnight haul from Prince George, and opened the scoring in the second period on a snapshot from John Herrington.
Calgary’s Jayden Grubbe tied it up a few minutes later, but the Cougars got the next one on another slapper, this time from Max Arnold.
The lead didn’t hold long, as Calgary evened it up 2-2 going into the third, and then finished with all three markers in the final frame.
It meant the Cougars would face elimination for the third time this season, on the following day.
Game 2, 3-2 OT – Buffaloes
But this time, things didn’t go their way.
The Cougars again opened the scoring on a goal by Booker Daniel, to take a 1-0 lead into the second.
Calgary’s Grubbe again tied it up, scoring early in the second. Cougars goaltender Xavier Cannon spoiled a couple of good Calgary chances, to hold it at 1-1 going into the final period.
Cariboo’s Curtis Hammond got the Cougars ahead again midway through the third, but the Buffaloes’ Ethan King quickly tied it up to force OT.
Again it was Grubbe that made the difference, scoring just 46 seconds into extra time, to clinch the Pacific title for the Buffaloes and send them on to the National Championship in Thunder Bay.
On Tuesday BC Hockey named Cariboo Cougars Head Coach Tyler Brough BCMML Coach of the Year. He lead the team to a 27-8-5 regular season record, finishing with a six game winning streak before meeting the Buffalos.
Brough has been with the team since 2015.