Williams Lake Stampeders netminder Justin Foote has a shot slip through his five-hole Saturday during an 8-1 loss to the Smithers Steelheads in game two of the CIHL playoff final. Sunday

Williams Lake Stampeders netminder Justin Foote has a shot slip through his five-hole Saturday during an 8-1 loss to the Smithers Steelheads in game two of the CIHL playoff final. Sunday

Steelies take two; win playoff crown

The Smithers Steelheads beat the Williams Lake Stampeders two games to one to win the CIHL playoff championship.

It was a long bus ride up to Smithers and an even longer one home for the Williams Lake Stampeders who, after taking a 1-0 series lead last weekend, lost the CIHL playoff final to the Smithers Steelheads Sunday, two games to one.

Saturday, the Steelheads pummeled a short-benched Stampeders squad, 8-1, before grinding out another 5-2 victory Sunday to win the SMP Cup, the league’s playoff trophy.

“It’s a pretty exciting feeling,” said Steelheads coach Tom DeVries. “You don’t even know what the feeling is until the clock runs out and the game’s over. You’re always thinking, ‘ah, you never know what might happen,’ and then all of a sudden you win it.”

The sound win Saturday night sent a clear message to Williams Lake that the Steelheads weren’t going to make it easy, sending the series to Sunday’s third and deciding game. Scoring the lone goal for Williams Lake in Saturday’s contest was Wilfred Robbins.

Williams Lake coach Cliff Philpot said after Saturday’s game he felt having a few more players would have made all the difference.

“They come hard,” Philpot said. “They played hard in Williams Lake, but I thought we played a better game in Williams Lake. We had some different players in the lineup and that made a big difference for us. We didn’t have the right players tonight.”

Sunday, Williams Lake made it closer but, ultimately, the result was the same.

The CIHL playoff banner is the first the Steelheads have won, while a Williams Lake win would have been the team’s third consecutive playoff championship.

The Steelheads, along with Sunday’s playoff win, also laid claim to the league’s regular season trophy this year, going unbeaten in all of its 18 games.

Following the regular season Smithers swept the Prince Rupert Rampage and the Terrace River Kings, before beating Williams Lake.

Now, the Stampeders, the Steelheads, the Quesnel Kangaroos and the host Kitimat Ice Demons will converge later this month for the Coy Cup Senior Men’s Provincial Hockey Championship.