ESQUIMALT, B.C. – Ryan Friesen scored a power play goal with 54.3 seconds remaining in regulation to propel the 100 Mile House Wranglers past the Victoria Cougars 5-4 to win the Cyclone Taylor Cup.
100 Mile House won the Cyclone Taylor Cup for the first time in its three-year existence.
Zane Steeves, who posted a record of 2-1, a goals against average of 2.68, and a save percentage of .928 for the Wranglers, was named the most valuable player of the tournament.
With 2:02 remaining and the score knotted at four, Jordan Passmore received a penalty for an illegal check to the head on 100 Mile House defenseman Stephen Egan.
Athletic therapist Rainer Meyer had to help Egan off the ice.
Having already scored once on two previous power plays; the Wranglers struck again.
From the corner, Tyler Povelofskie centered the puck out to Friesen who redirected it past Gregory Maggio for the game winner. After the goal, Maggio lay face down on the ice as 100 Mile House and their blue-and-yellow faithful celebrated.
The Wranglers outshot Victoria 38-32 overall.
A turnover in the neutral zone and poor defensive coverage allowed Nick McCabe to skate freely around the net and fire the puck past Maggio from a sharp angle at 14:10 for the only goal of the first period.
100 Mile House extended its lead at the 1:06 mark of the middle frame when Brett Harris beat Maggio five-hole on a breakaway for his first of two goals of the game.
Dom Kolbeins cut the lead in half at 11:04 after wiring a centering pass from Nathan Looysen behind Steeves.
A roughing penalty to Looysen late in the period put the Wranglers on their second power play of the afternoon.
13 seconds into the third period, Harris centered the puck out to Justin Bond who found the back of the net to give 100 Mile House a 3-1 lead.
Kolbeins used a nice backhand deke at 1:33 to pull the Cougars back to within one.
Then from the top of the right faceoff circle, Passmore tied the game after ripping a wrist shot that found the top corner of the net at 5:28.
Immediately following the goal, Povelofskie argued with referees Steve Brown and Ryan O’Keefe saying that the play was offside.
The goal stood and the see-saw battle continued.
John Kretzschmar would give Victoria its first lead when his shot beat Steeves short side at 12:34.
But at 14:02, Harris gobbled up a Ryan Vorster turnover and wristed the puck over Maggio to tie the game at four.
Friesen, who had been held off the scoresheet in all three round-robin games, could not have picked a better time to record his first goal and point of the tournament.
The Cougars were able to pull Maggio for an extra attacker but could not get the equalizer.
As the buzzer sounded, players and coaches from 100 Mile House mobbed one another with overwhelming emotion as sticks, helmets, and gloves littered the ice surface.
Victoria went 0-for-1 on the power play while the Wranglers finished 2-for-3.
With the win, 100 Mile House now advances to the Keystone Cup which begins April 14 in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Goaltender Anthony Ciurro (upper body injury) and defenseman Austin Wilk (suspension) did not play for the Cougars.
Sunday’s game marked the end of eight junior careers: Ryan Buse, Bryton Beattie, Ryan Carson, Ryan Lawson, Brett Lervold, Lane Vandewetering, Kretzschmar, and Wilk.
PLAYER OF THE GAME (100 MILE HOUSE WRANGLERS): Justin Bond
PLAYER OF THE GAME (VICTORIA COUGARS): Dom Kolbeins