The Terrace River Kings lost 3-9 to the Quesnel Kangaroos, who were crowned winners of the 2018-19 Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL).
They played game two against the Roos at the West Fraser Centre rink in Quesnel for a crowd of 1,300 people on Mar. 2, but with fewer players than they expected to have on their team — it was hard to match the strife of their trophy-hungry competitors.
“It obviously was not as good as we would have liked, we went down short-handed,” says Steve Cullis, team captain of the Terrace River Kings. “It’s pretty deflating but we tried hard in the third period and scored three goals on them. A small consolation, but we didn’t quit.”
Cullis says that many of the guys on their team couldn’t make it last-minute for various reasons and their starting goalie was hurt at a practice last week that prevented him from playing. They went in with only nine players on forward and five on defense.
The Roos started off the game by scoring a goal in the first period, followed by another seven in the second. The River Kings managed to get three goals in the third period, but that wasn’t enough to get ahead as Quesnel added on another score to their final winning tally of nine.
Despite the CIHL loss, he says that he’s happy that the Terrace River Kings were able to take second place in the league and given all the new players on the team, he thinks they’re only going to get better.
“We have a lot of young guys on our team and we still finished second in the playoffs. This team, as long as it stays around, will be good for many years as these guys stay,” Cullis says. “That’s one thing to look forward to for the River Kings and those that follow them.”
But although the Roos are celebrating their first playoff championship win since they joined the CIHL eight seasons ago, there’s a plot twist to this year’s Coy Cup tournament as it won’t be them representing the league.
Just like the Terrace River Kings, the Quesnel Kangaroos have also opted out from the Coy Cup tournament due to time commitments and extra travel costs.
Prince Rupert Rampage, who took third place, will be the default team that will be attending the Senior Men’s AA Championship. An added surprise is that fourth-place William Lake Stampeders will also be joining them on the ice.
“They’ve had some downturn in senior men’s hockey in the rest of the province, so they actually needed two teams to make it up,” Ron German, the general manager of the Prince Rupert Rampage, says to The Northern View. “We were counting on winning playoffs and vying to go for the provincial championships… some other teams had withdrawn, so basically we got ordered to go to make the championship happen.”
As for the Terrace River Kings, Cullis says that now that the season is over, it’s important to remind everyone that their team is still looking for volunteers come next season. For him, hockey is more than just a sport and he wants Terrace to continue being excited about it.
“The best part is definitely being part of another family and meeting new friends through hockey,” says Cullis.
Both Williams Lake and Prince Rupert will be the CIHL representatives in this year’s Coy Cup, which will be held March 26 – 30 in Fort St. John.