October 22, 2017
With files from Robert Murray
Vernon native Ben King (Okanagan Rockets) scored with 2:37 left in OT to give BC a 4-3 win over Alberta in the gold medal game of the Western Cup in Calgary on Sunday.
“Cole Shepard (West Vancouver, Delta Hockey Academy) moved it up to the point and I just tried to get a screen,” King said while describing his overtime-winner. Ryan Watson (Delta, Delta HA) took a shot and I tried to get a stick on it.
“I tipped it and looked and it went post and in and everyone went crazy. It was a good feeling.”
Undefeated in their last 16 games at the tournament dating back to Nov. 4, 2012, Alberta gave their neighbours to the west all they could handle in the best game of the tournament.
The first-overall pick from the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, defenceman Kaiden Guhle (Sherwood Park, OHA Edmonton) opened the scoring on a shot from the left side on the power play 8:34 into the first, after Kyle Crnkovic (Chestermere, Northern Alberta Extreme) and Ronan Seeley (Lethbridge, Hurricanes) worked the puck around up top.
Sebastian Cossa (Ft. McMurray, Ft. Saskatchewan Rangers) was sensational in the first period, as BC pressured with 12 shots on goal.
B.C. continued to press in the second period, but Alberta opened a 2-0 lead at 12:51 into the frame thanks to Connor McClennon (Wainwright, NAX).
Crnkovic passed it from the slot to McClennon in front of the net, who caught Dylan Garand (Victoria, Delta HA) in an awkward position, eventually forcing the puck across the goal line.
British Columbia came roaring back about three minutes later, when Justin Sourdif (Surrey, Valley West Hawks) put his province on the board. With fellow Giants prospect Krz Plummer (Whitecourt, Delta HA) in the box for interference, B.C. went to work on the power play.
After a shot on net bounced back into the slot, Sourdif was the first to get his stick calmly on the puck, firing it over a sprawled Cossa for B.C.’s first goal. Cameron MacDonald (Surrey, Valley West), and Aiden De La Gorgendiere (Langley, Yale HA) got the assists.
That wasn’t the end of B.C.’s scoring in the period either.
With just 19 seconds to go, Ethan Bowen (Chilliwack, FV Hawks) found the puck on his stick behind the net and put it out front to Tyson Phare (Maple Ridge, Yale), who quickly deposited it into the net to tie things up after 40 minutes.
That set the stage for an exciting third, and with BC scoring again, just 20 seconds in.
After a face off in the Alberta zone, Watson threw the puck on net from the blue line, and beat Cossa high after the puck appeared to change direction through traffic.
That put Alberta behind for the first time all tournament, a situation players like Seeley said his team was perfectly okay with in a temporary sense.
“The guys were super positive,” Seeley noted. “At first it sucked, but we just kept going.”
Chances for the host province came and went throughout the rest of the period and with less than two minutes left, Alberta tied it up on a power play marker.
A Guhle point shot came to McClennon, who quickly adjusted and backhanded the puck over the right pad of Garand with 1:44 to go, sending the Alberta bench into a frenzy. Jake Neighbors picked up his second assist on the goal.
In OT, it was again Watson who played a key role in the scoring play with Ben King tipping a point shot into the net on the 4 on 4.
Shots finished 27-24 for BC.
The win, while surprising to some, wasn’t completely unexpected. Players like Payton Mount (Victoria, Delta HA) and Jack Finley (Kelowna, Okanagan) had steadily picked up their play to lead British Columbia’s squad throughout the five-day tournament.
An opening-game 3-2 shootout loss to Manitoba was less than favourable, and the 6-2 loss to Alberta in game two put BC in a tough situation to start, but the team moved forward throughout remainder of the tournament – downing Saskatchewan by 6-0 margins in the final round robin and also in the semi-final game.
Still, to come back and beat an Alberta squad that had dominated the majority of the round-robin, and had 11 first-round picks from the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft on their roster, is an accomplishment that will be etched in the history books of the WHL Cup for years to come.
“I think we played our hearts out and did everything we could,” Alberta captain Jake Neighbours (Edmonton Oil Kings) said. “If you just take this, remember this feeling and hopefully it doesn’t happen to any of us ever again.
“[WHL Cup] is an amazing experience. It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life and though it’s not the outcome I wanted, I’ll look back at the memories, not the results.”
It was definitely a life memory and I’m never going to forget it,” Mount said. “We’ve made friendships that you’ll never lose and it was definitely a great memory to make.”
2017 WHL Cup All-Stars
G – Bryan Thomson (Team Saskatchewan) – Moose Jaw, Sask – Lethbridge Hurricanes
D – Kaiden Guhle (Team Alberta) – Sherwood Park, Alta. – Prince Albert Raiders
D – Daemon Hunt (Team Manitoba) – Brandon, Man. – Moose Jaw Warriors
F – Justin Sourdif (Team British Columbia) – Surrey, B.C. – Vancouver Giants
F – Kyle Crnkovic (Team Alberta) – Chestermere, Alta. – Saskatoon Blades
F – Connor McClennon (Team Alberta) – Wainwright, Alta. – Kootenay ICE
1. Kyle Crnkovic (AB) – 3G-9A – 12pts
2. Connor McClennon (AB) – 6G-4A – 10pts
3. Kaiden Guhle (AB) – 5G-4A – 9pts
4. Jake Neighbours (AB) – 1G-6A – 7pts
5. Tyler Horstmann (BC) – 0G-5A – 5pts
TEAM BC Roster:
|#||Pos||Last Name||First Name||DOB M-D-Y||Ht||Wt||2017-2018 Team||Hometown||WHL Draft, Round/Pick|
|1||G||Garand||Dylan||6/7/02||6’0″||161||Delta HA||Victoria||Kamloops 3-58|
|2||D||Brandwood||Ethan||5/9/02||6’0″||157||South Island||Victoria||Kamloops 7-146|
|4||D||De La Grogendiere||Aidan||2/22/02||6’0″||169||Yale HA||Langley||Saskatoon 1-5|
|6||D||Iorio||Vincent||11/14/02||6’1″||176||Shattuck-St. Mary’s||Coquitlam||Brandon 2-27|
|7||D||Watson||Ryan||5/11/02||5’10”||149||Delta HA||Delta||Medicine Hat 3-65|
|8||F||Bowen||Ethan||5/14/02||6’0″||157||Fraser Valley||Chilliwack||Kelowna 2-39|
|10||F||Horstmann||Tyler||1/7/02||5’10”||149||Greater Vancouver||Richmond||Edmonton 4-70|
|11||F||King||Ben||5/15/02||6’0″||161||Okanagan||Vernon||Swift Current 1-13|
|12||F||Little||John||11/10/02||5’11”||171||Shawnigan Lake||Parksville||Vancouver 3-60|
|14||F||MacDonald||Cameron||3/8/02||5’7″||159||Valley West||Surrey||Brandon 5-96|
|15||F||Marlow||Wyatt||3/7/02||5’7″||150||Okaganan HA||Cranbrook||Swift Current 10-211|
|16||F||Mount||Payton||1/19/02||5’10”||174||Delta HA||Victoria||Seattle 1-19|
|17||F||Phare||Tyson||3/20/02||5’11”||180||Yale HA||Maple Ridge||Prince George 1-18|
|18||F||Shepard||Cole||2/1/02||5’8″||142||Delta HA||West Vancouver||Vancouver 2-33|
|19||F||Sourdif||Justin||3/24/02||5’9″||158||Valley West||Surrey||Vancouver 1-3|