THE Williams Lake Stampeders are British Columbia’s 2013 men’s senior AA champions.
The Stamps, wearing their lucky green jerseys on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, hoisted the Coy Cup March 16. Playing their 5th game in 5 nights, the Stamps knocked off the host Kitimat Ice Demons 5-1 to capture the championship.
Dylan Richardson led the way with 2 goals. David Gore, Francis Johnson and Nathan Zurak also scored for Williams Lake. Jeff Mildenberger scored the only goal for Kitimat.
Kitimat entered the game as the favoured team to win. They blew out opponents all week long and had the benefit of the previous night off thanks to a bye for being the first place team in the round robin.
But the Stampeders played coy much of the night (please forgive the pun). Perhaps necessitated by their older line up, heavy game schedule and weary travel, the Stampeders employed a game plan to nullify Kitimat’s quick transition offense. They rarely sent in more than one player on the forecheck, instead saving their energy to stand four men along the blue line. They turned Kitimat back time and time again. It certainly helped that Kitimat refused to adjust to a dump and chase style.
When Kitimat did gain the zone the Stampeders played it tight and passively, keeping the Demons to the outside of the ice. Rarely did Kitimat have a great scoring chance in the slot. And whenever the Stamps got the puck they never hesitated to simply dump the puck out of their own zone and take frequent icing calls.
A scary incident late in the first period did put a damper on the game. Kitimat’s Dave Venman fell heavily into the boards. Several first aid attendants and a stretcher came on onto the ice. Venman eventually did skate off the ice on his own accord, but did not return to the game.
A few quick notes to finish off our Coy Cup coverage:
Official attendance is not announced in the building. The official capacity of Tamitik Arena is over 1900 seats with 400 standing room. I’d guess somewhere around 1000 people watched the game. The loudest fan was a wonderful Native lady from Williams Lake. She banged her drum all night long and was brought out onto the ice to celebrate with the team.
Despite the loss Kitimat’s Jeff Mildenberger was the star of the game. The fantastic defenseman seemingly never left the ice. He may have been trying to play as many minutes as his brother Tommy – Kitimat’s goaltender.
There was one person in Tamitik Arena who was happier than the Stampeders players: Terrace’s Thomas Stark won over $1900 in the 50/50 draw.
Joe Pelletier is a hockey writer living in Terrace, B.C.