The Campbell River Tier-2 Bantam Tyees are provincial Tier 2 champions.
The No. 1 Autobody Tyees went through some adversity in the round robin portion of the tournament in Trail, losing to Burnaby Winter Club, but in the end they rose to the occasion and beat their round-robin rival in the final, 2-1 in overtime.
The Tyees didn’t waste any time in the extra period. One-minute in Josh Coblenz stole the puck at the Burnaby blue line walked in and fired a high missile shortside to send the team into delirium.
“I got off the bench, the d-man bobbled the puck and I stole it from him and then I was going to make a pass, but thought ‘no,’ I’ll just throw it at the net and it went in,” said Josh Coblenz.
The game was scoreless heading into the third when Burnaby’s Kenessary Kylyshbek buried a centering pass from Jake Kryshki over the blocker of Tyee goalie Nic Kirchner.
With 5:43 to play and the Tyees down 1-0, Joe Gage made an incredible play at the Burnaby blue-line diving to keep the puck in the Burnaby zone, then making a pass to Travis Goodwin from his stomach. Goodwin slid the puck to Grady McInnes in the slot, who air-mailed it top corner to tie it at 1-1.
“That was an unreal play,” said Tyee coach Peter Martin. “The guys see it. You look at inspiring moments – that was one.”
Forty seconds later however, the Tyees took a penalty, their only minor of the game. Burnaby threatened to go up, but Kirchner stood tall and Campbell River patiently killed the penalty.
“They just never quit. Your down 1-0 in the third period of the championship game, five minutes left – all you ever work on is just how much determination they really have to win, and that’s what you see.”
Campbell River finished second in Pool B behind Burnaby who they lost to 3-2, but then beat Westside 8-7 and Fort St. John 13-2 in the round robin. They were then victorious against a tough Cranbrook side, 4-3, to make it into the final. The team was consistent up front, good defensively, with not a lot of flash but a ton of character.
“The thing we talked about between the second and third period, was team stuff. It doesn’t matter who does it and that’s what we’ve tried to teach everybody,” added Martin.
Earlier in the season, things didn’t look so good for Campbell River which came into the year with high expectations. Two years ago, 11 members of the team were playing for the provincial champion peewee A team while most of the others were on the peeewee B squad which also made it to the B.C.’s.
But Martin said the coaches intentionally front-loaded the schedule in order to play the best teams in the province. That included entering two top-top tournaments early in the season, where things didn’t go so well.
“At one point we had lost nine in a row, but we weathered the storm and by Dec. 1, I thought we were pretty good,” he said.
So good in fact that the team is bringing home another championship banner. A celebration for the team is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, 7:45 p.m., at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena.