By Xuyun Zeng
The Smithers Steelheads won the Central Interior Hockey League playoffs, beating the Williams Lake Stampeders in two straight games for the final series.
Following a 4-1 win in Williams Lake, Steelheads finished off Stampeders 5-3 in the second game in Smithers last Saturday. Both teams knew what was at stake and they held no punches.
“Feels great to win. Good for the guys,” said head coach Tom DeVries. “They’re a scary team, they’re so skilled, and we just seem to play them right, and limited their chances and we just scored at opportune times and it was a great game for us.”
The Steelheads kept ahead of the Stampeders, finishing the first period 2-1, then 4-2 in the second frame.
Each team netted one in the third, the Stampeders’ goal came too late. With 1:16 left on the clock, they still stood two goals behind.
The game concluded and the Steelheads threw their gear all over their ice, gathering to cheer, as captain Ian Smith held the trophy high in the air.
“It was really good. It was a huge team effort last weekend in Williams Lake and today was no different,” said Smith. “We had all lines going, we had everyone contributing out there.”
Smith also announced his retirement as captain.
“It’s probably my last game in the CIHL,” he said. “I’m going to retire. I’ve played 12 years in the league. I’m ready to hang ‘er up, maybe. We’ll see.”
“I would say the biggest memory I’d take away from this is just all the time and bus trips and playing with different guys for so many years and just everyone coming together. This team was like no other.”
Centreman Brendan DeVries also garnered the title of CIHL playoffs MVP.
“Losing last year sucked in a good series against Terrace,” he said. “But to beat them this year, and to top it off with winning the league, it’s just awesome, I’ve never won too much in my career or in my life, so it’s just great to win here.”
DeVries, who also was the top scorer in the CIHL regular season, says he has no secret to his success.
“I just try to play hard, try not to make too many mistakes, just pass the puck around and try to make the plays out there,” he said.
DeVries will miss the team’s captain.
“This season, he played so good in the last bunch of games,” he said. “He’s a tough dude to play against and he’s a good buddy of mine.”
The Steelheads will play in the Coy Cup provincials in Terrace March 22-26.