Falling short of the tournament title wasn’t an ideal finish for the Integris Credit Union Bantam B Cougars.
But in taking home third place on Sunday at the Kin Centres, the host team of the Imperial Esso 2008 Challenge Cup showed an ability to rebound from a defeat in the semi-final round the evening before.
Dawson Creek blanked the Cougars 5-0 on Saturday en route to finishing runner up to Salmon Arm in the competition.
The Cougars defeated Terrace 6-2 in the third place game.
“The boys showed a lot of character, I thought, bouncing back from the defeat to Dawson Creek and coming back and playing such a strong game against Terrace and that was a 60-minute effort in that game,” Integris Credit Union head coach Gary Young said. “(The) boys played extremely well. We lost the one game to Dawson Creek (but) other than that, played really great hockey (over the weekend).”
In the championship game, Salmon Arm defeated Dawson Creek 5-4 in overtime in a battle of AA teams.
Gary’s squad rebounded from a 2-0 first period deficit to tie Salmon Arm 2-2 during their round robin game, noting that they showed the most determination they have all season in the second frame of that contest.
“It was definitely the best period of hockey we’ve seen them play,” he said. “That was great. That will give them something to build on.”
Against the Dawson Creek club, it was one period that set the Cougars back. No goals were scored by either team after one period, but in the second frame Dawson Creek exploded for four goals.
The following day the Cougars offence turned into gear in the Terrace victory. Matt Warner led the way offensively with two goals. Tanner Fjellstrom, Mike Brewer, Jordan Carstairs and Brody Wicki also scored.
Gary said the line comprised of his son Regan Young, Brewer and Sammy McMullen had an exceptional weekend.
“Those three guys, in the five games only gave up two goals,” he said. “So I think that that line really showed our commitment to team defence.”
The Cougars advanced to play Dawson Creek in Saturday’s semi-final round after finishing second in Pool B with a win and two ties. They also tied Prince Rupert 3-3 and blanked South Delta 8-0. Salmon Arm won the pool by winning both of its other round robin games, 4-0 over Prince Rupert and 17-1 over South Delta. The other Pool B contest resulted in a 10-0 victory for Prince Rupert over South Delta.
Dawson Creek coasted through Pool A with a 3-0 record in defeating Williams Lake 7-1, downing Kitimat 7-3 and blanking Terrace 2-0. Terrace managed to grab second place in the pool with a 3-1 victory over Kitimat and 6-6 tie with Williams Lake, while Kitimat downed Williams Lake 5-3 in the other Pool A game.
Also in the semifinal round on Saturday, Salmon Arm doubled up on Terrace by a 4-2 count.
Williams Lake finished seventh with a 5-1 victory over South Delta. In a battle of west coast teams, Kitimat defeated Prince Rupert 11-4 to end up fifth.
On the consolation side of the playoffs on Saturday, Kitimat hammered South Delta 11-0 and Prince Rupert downed Williams Lake 6-1.
“The boys came through unscathed,” Gary said. “I think the only adversity (we faced on the weekend) was the second period of the Dawson Creek game. We chatted a bit about team character between the second and third and keeping our composure when you take a beating like that. It’s one thing that I’m very proud of, is even taking that beating we only took two penalties that whole game and that shows the discipline the boys have been playing with.”
Also at the Kin Centres on the weekend, the Viking Construction Peewee AAA Cougars advanced to provincials by defeating Williams Lake in two consecutive games in the Cariboo League final.
In the first game Viking Construction defeated Williams Lake 11-2. In the second game the Cougars hammered Williams Lake 15-1.
Provincials take place at Cranbrook in March. For the Cougars, their next action is a AAA tournament at Grande Prairie from Feb. 14-16.