Today’s Poll

Cougars capture Cyclone bronze with 3-0 shutout of host Nelson Leafs

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
April 13th, 2014

Maybe it was the big, larger-than-life, red goalie pads.

Whatever, the reason the Nelson Leafs will be glad not to have to face Victoria goalie Connor Beauchamp again for some time after the 6’1”, 195-pound netminder stymied the Green and White for the second time in four days.

The Nanton, Alta., native made 23 saves to lead the Vancouver Island Champion Cougars to a 3-0 shutout over the Leafs in Bronze Medal Round action Sunday afternoon at the NDCC Arena.

Beauchamp was in goal during the first meeting between the two teams Thursday, also a 6-1 Victoria victory.

The contest concludes the season for the Leafs, finishing the four-team Cyclone Taylor Tournament with a 0-3-1 record.

Nelson entered the Junior B Provincial Championship as the host club and had to deal with a long layoff after being eliminated from the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs by Beaver Valley in the second round of the Murdoch Division playoffs.

“Our play in the first game, I think that was due to the (month) layoff factor we dealt with but we came out a lot harder the second game and maybe if we don’t hit a post or catch a break in some of the other games maybe we’re playing in the final,” Leaf Captain Darnel St. Pierre said following consolation round loss which came less than 12 hours after Nelson was eliminated from playing for the Cyclone Taylor Cup.

The Saturday night loss to Aldergrove, in a game that if Nelson wins the hosts advance to the final, emotionally drained the Leaf players, and it showed Sunday as Victoria took the play to Nelson from the opening puck drop.

The Cougars outshot Nelson 17-8 in the opening frame, and if it not for the stellar play of netminder Brad Rebagliati in the Nelson nets, the score could have been a lot worse than 1-0 for Victoria on an unassisted Jake Stolz marker.

In the second, Victoria continued to pressure Nelson and was rewarded in the final minute of the frame when Sam McMullen converted a centering pass, picking the top corner on Rebagliati to send the Island club into the intermission up 2-0.

Victoria completed the scoring in the third on a weird goal.

Killing a penalty, Robert Zadra was simply clearing the puck down the ice when this attempt deflected off the glass right toward the Leaf net.

Unfortunately for Nelson, Rebagliati thought the puck was coming round the boards and during his attempt to get back into the net, slipped and watched the puck glide into the vacant cage.

Despite not seeing this ending scripted at the start of the tournament for the Leafs, the captain praised his teammates for the effort throughout the season.

“I can’t say enough about these guys,” St. Pierre explained. “I’ve grown to love them all like family.”

“We came out this weekend and battled hard,” he added. “We came in as the underdog and kind of ended up that way but we gave everything we had . . . we did the best we could.”

Victoria out shot Nelson 43-23 in the contest.

The two netminders — Beauchamp in the Victoria nets and Rebagliati for Nelson — were named the two MVP’s for the game.

CYCLONE NOTES: It appears Nelson/Creston MLA Michelle Mungall is off the hook. Or is she? The provincal MLA had a friendly wager with Esquimalt-Royal Roads MLA Maurine Karagiani. The best had whichever teams wins, the losing MLA, with the Speaker’s approval, will sport the opposing team’s jersey in the Legislature and do a two-minute statement admitting defeat and praising the winning team. The only concern with this bet even though Victoria won both games against Nelson, the Island squad didn’t win the Cyclone Taylor Cup. I’m sure the two MLA’s can agree on if there is any reason for the Nelson/Creston to size up a Cougar’s jersey.

Categories: Sports

Other News Stories