It has been 40 years since long-time NHLer Cliff Ronning led Burnaby Winter
Club to a 3-1 win over Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy and the
Gouverneurs de Sainte-Foy to give British Columbia its one and only
national men’s U18 club championship.
The Vancouver North East Chiefs are hoping that drought ends in Okotoks as
they make their TELUS Cup debut.
The Chiefs have already ended another streak for their province, albeit not
nearly as long; by downing the Calgary Buffaloes in the Pacific Regional,
they became the first B.C. team to beat the Alberta champions since the
Okanagan Rockets – led by current NHLer Tyson Jost – won their way to the
2014 TELUS Cup.
The Chiefs are deserving Pacific Region champions, having topped the B.C.
Elite Hockey League (BCEHL) in the regular season with just four
regulation-time losses in 35 games before suffering just a single playoff
defeat on their way to the BCEHL title.
Hosting the Buffaloes – seven-time Pacific Region champions themselves – in
the regional final, Vancouver NE fell into an early hole in the
best-of-three series after Calgary eked out a 3-2 overtime victory in Game
Matteo Pero saved the Chiefs’ season with an extra-time winner in Game 2
after the Buffaloes had erased a 3-0 deficit, and Matthew Wise’s
second-period goal stood up as the decider in a 2-1 nail-biter in Game 3,
sending Vancouver NE to Okotoks.
“It was little bit of an up-and-down year,” says Chiefs general manager
Greg Harding. “Lots of success, but there were times where we went through
some tough stretches and some injuries that set us back a little bit. But
it was always a goal of ours, a realistic goal for us to win our league.
“It's not easy to get through regionals and beat the competition coming out
of Alberta. I think once we got there, we had an expectation that we were
going to win it, but at the same time, you're in a bit of shock when it
The key for the Chiefs, according to head coach Jamie Jackson? With the
players coming off a lost season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was just
about being back on the ice. The results would take care of themselves.
“It's not [something our players thought about], especially [because of]
the past two years of kids not competing in playoffs,” Jackson says. “So, I
think it's all going to be brand new to all of us.
“[The TELUS Cup has] always been in the back of my mind, something that I
would like to attend and be a part of, but for the players, I think it's
just going to be completely brand new.”
Vancouver NE opens its
TELUS Cup schedule
against the Quebec Region champions, the Cantonniers de Magog, on May 16.
HOW THEY GOT TO OKOTOKS
British Columbia Elite Hockey League
Quarterfinal: defeated North Island Silvertips 2-0 (10-3, 6-2)
Semifinal: defeated Greater Vancouver Canadians 2-1 (2-4, 4-3, 4-2)
Final: defeated Vancouver NW Hawks 2-0 (3-2, 4-2)
Championship: defeated Calgary Buffaloes 2-1 (2-3 OT, 4-3 OT, 2-1)
Record: 26-4-1-5 (1st in BCEHL)
Goals for: 161
Goals against: 104
Longest winning streak: 10 (Oct. 24-Dec. 11)
Top 3 scorers:
- Tomis Marinkovic – 21G 19A 40P (8th in BCEHL)
- Andrew Casellato – 17G 19A 36P (15th in BCEHL)
- Theo Kochan – 15G 17A 32P (20th in BCEHL)
Goals for: 41
Goals against: 25
Top 3 scorers:
- Dryden Kuramoto – 5G 10A 15P
- Andrew Casellato – 4G 5A 9P
- Tomis Marinkovic – 1G 8A 9P
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
PLAYERS TO WATCH
DRYDEN KURAMOTO...High offensive I.Q...Leading scorer through playoffs...2021 WHL Cup winner with Team BC
TOMIS MARINKOVIC...Team captain...1.25 points per game...6’3, 185lb left shooter
WHL DRAFTED PLAYERS
Dryden Kuramoto – Calgary 2021 (6th round, 124th overall)
Tait Humphries – Saskatoon 2020 (8th round, 165th overall)