For the second straight year the Smithers Steelheads are the Central Interior Hockey League playoff champions.
The Steelheads entered the Smithers Civic Centre Saturday down one game to the Williams Lake Stampeders in the best-of-three series, and went on to win two straight to capture the SMP Cup.
Saturday night the Steelheads stormed out of the gates with an early lead and didn’t look back, taking game two 6-3.
Sunday was much of the same, where the Fish swam to a 7-3 win to cap off the series.
“Last year was great, this year is great and playing a good team like Williams Lake is really rewarding,” said Steelheads coach Tom DeVries.
Steelheads assistant captain Ian Smith was awarded the playoff MVP trophy after notching an assist Saturday and three points Sunday (1G, 2A).
Speaking to the Peak FM following the game Smith said all the pieces came together on the weekend, including a returning Darryl Young and Adam DeVries.
“It was nice having Darryl and Adam back,” he said. “They were feeding me all playoffs, so I owe a lot to them. It was a good game today and everyone came ready to play and we had a good run in the playoffs.”
Stampeders general manager Kelly Kohlen said his club simply wasn’t able to put together a complete game on foreign ice and couldn’t replicate their winning form last weekend during game one in Quesnel.
“You’ve got to play 60 minutes of hockey, especially against Smithers because they’re a good team,” Kohlen said. “We were short a few guys but it was just one of those things.
“A team like that, you let them go, and they’re going to score.”
Despite the outcome he said it was an extremely competitive series of hockey.
“It was a good series. We didn’t get very lucky with the bounces [Sunday] and it just wasn’t going our way. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Scoring for Williams Lake Saturday were Francis Johnson (2G) and Dave Gore. Sunday, Williams Lake’s offence came from Dylan Richardson (1G), Brent McIsaac and Bill McGinnis.
Stampeders’ goalie Justin Foote faced 40 shots Sunday, while Steelheads’ netminder Mike Wall turned aside 37 in the winning effort.
Smith added winning the SMP Cup for the second-straight year was something the team worked hard toward all season.
“Last year being our first year it was a big thing for us but this year it was more like, this team’s for real — we can play in the playoffs. I think we made a little statement to the league today.”
However, the Stamps aren’t done yet. Because they finished in the top four of the CIHL playoffs they will compete next week at the Senior Men’s ‘AA’ Provincial Coy Cup Tournament, being hosted in Kitimat by the Kitimat Ice Demons.
Unfortunately for Williams Lake the Steelheads couldn’t get enough commitment from their players to attend the tournament, so a chance for redemption isn’t on the horizon.
Coy Cup action starts Tuesday and stretches throughout the week featuring the Stampeders, the Quesnel Kangaroos, the Kitimat Ice Demons and the Terrace River Kings.