SHOOTING pucks with the best major midget teams in Canada in the Telus Cup Championship was thrilling, despite the disappointing finish for the Cariboo Cougars, said Terrace’s Mason Richey.
After a commanding regular season topped with a league victory, the Cougars wound up finishing last in the round robin of the Telus Cup Championship.
They finished with a 1-2-2 record in the round robin, tying for points at the bottom with Leduc Oil Kings and the Cape Breton West Islanders, who went on to become the champions.
Their victory, however, was a 4-3 win against the cup champions, the Cape Breton West Islanders — a reality which is both gratifying and stinging at the same time.
“It kind of stung,” said Richey, “to know that that [the team who won] was the team that we had actually beat.” He added that if they’d scored just one more goal in their final game, a 2-2 tie against the Mississauga Rebels, they would have edged out the champions in the round robin.
“It kind of hurts to know that realistically if we had won our last game, we could have won it all,” said Richey.
But still, Richey remains postitive saying that the championship was an incredible experience.
“It was so fun, even though we didn’t advance,” he said, noting that the competition was phenominal and the crowds exhilerating. Geared up with his team mates at opening ceremonies, Richey stood before nearly 6,000 people in the packed CN Centre arena for opening ceremonies.
It was a thrilling moment he will likely never forget and one of his tournament highlights, he said.
“I got to be one of the five people on my team to stand on the ice for the national anthem,” said Richey. “That was the biggest crowd I’ve ever been in front of.”
His second highlight is from the action during the last round robin game.
The Cougars were down 0-2 against the Mississauga Rebels in the first period, and it wasn’t until the third period that Cougars found the back of the net.
Richey’s line managed to score early in the third to make it 1-2, and two minutes later his line was back on the ice.
After a fumbled attack, the puck bounced behind the net and Richey chased it with a Rebel defenceman.
In a quick, two-second reflex, Richey knocked his opponents stick up off the ice, allowing the puck to bounce to teammate Ty Kolle, who spun it around in front of the net and fired it in past the goalie.
The goal tied the game 2-2 with 11 minutes left, but the Cougars didn’t manage to land another shot and edge out the victory they needed.
Overall, Richey says he was a bit disappointed he didn’t score in the tournament, but he still felt good about how he played.
“I would have liked to have done more scoring goals… but I thought overall I had a good tournament,” he said.
The championship ends what was a thrilling season with the Cariboo Cougars and Richey, who is 16, hopes to advance into WHL this fall. Listed by the Kamloops Blazers in April, he’ll take part in tryouts this August.