© Copyright – 2019 – Victoria Sports News

The Victoria Cougars won the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s biggest prize by eliminating the Campbell River Storm in five games.

Tuesday, at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River, the Cougars defeated the Storm 4-2, after back-to-back shutout wins of 4-0 and 5-0.

The Cougars opened the scoring at 5:59 of the first period when Brett Kinley buried the puck with Nathan Ingram and Foster Martin assisting. It was the only goal of the opening frame.

They scored again at 6:48 of the second period on the powerplay with Marshall Brown capitalizing from Mateo Albinati and Booker Chacalias. Damon Kramer was sitting for two minutes for kneeing.

Campbell River made the game interesting by scoring twice before the period would come to an end. Damon Porter and Davis Frank each scored.

The teams battled hard during the third period and the game winner wasn’t scored until very late. At 17:47 Matthew Clark tallied with Tyler Vanuden and Nathan Ingram assisting.

Clark, an 18-year-old Langford native, is in his first season with the Cougars. The 5’ 10” forward scored 14 goals and picked up 12 assists in 40 games played during the regular season.

“Tonight wasn’t our best game. Campbell River came out strong and played with desperation,” said Cougars Coach Suniel Karod. “I thought they dictated the pace for most of the game. What I liked about our game was that we had certain guys like Kinley, Ingram, and Clark step up in clutch moments and Sikkes came up big when we needed him to. We found a way to win.”

File photo. Suniel Karod, Victoria Cougars coach.

With goaltender Aaron de Kok pulled in favour of the extra attacker, Albinati scored into the gaping net at 19:11 from Vanuden.

De Kok stopped 19 of 22 shots fired his way. Owen Sikkes earned the 23-save win.

After losing Game 1, 4-0, Victoria came back hard on the deep, well-balanced Storm team with wins of 5-2, 4-0 and 5-0 before Tuesday’s 4-2 series-ending league-championship win.

Campbell River and the Rod Brind’Amour Arena will be the site of the 2019 Cyclone Taylor Cup – the provincial Junior B championships, starting Thursday, April 11.

Karod added, “We’ll take a day off today, (Wednesday) and then start getting ready for the CTC. The coaches will watch videos and prepare. The boys will start practicing in a few days.”

Teams from the Pacific Junior Hockey League of Greater Vancouver, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League Victoria Cougars and Campbell River Storm will play for the provincial title.

Over the past five years of participation, the Storm have medalled three times in the tournament, one of each colour, bronze, silver, and gold in 2015. They won in 1999 as well.

The tournament started 52 years ago, at the end of the 1966-1967 season. The Comox Totems were the tournament’s inaugural champions in that 1967 edition. The Cougars won once in 2007. The Peninsula Panthers won in 2011. The Saanich Braves won gold in 1976 and a team called the Victoria Cubs won in 1971.