The Powell River Kings are starting to resemble the Buffalo Bills of the B.C. Hockey League.
Four straight appearances in a Fred Page Cup final, with no hardware to show for it (the Bills went to four consecutive Super Bowls with a similar result).
For the second straight year, the Kings were swept in the best-of-seven championship series, ending with Wednesday’s 3-2 home loss to the Penticton Vees in Game 4 at Hap Parker Arena.
The Vees’ Curtis Loik fired the winner 13:08 into the second period, with other Penticton offence coming from Wade Murphy and Ryan Reilly.
Murphy recorded the overtime winner as the Vees stung the Kings 4-3 in Game 3 Tuesday night.
Michael Garteig, Penticton’s starter all season before getting injured late in the year, was thrilled to be part of the experience despite not playing.
“Just dressing for the last two games is pretty special,” said Garteig, who played with Powell River last season when they were swept by the Vernon Vipers.
Garteig couldn’t help but be impressed by the performance of his replacement, Chad Katunar.
“He did awesome. He did everything we asked him to do. I think with each game our team gained more confidence in him. I personally think he stole a couple of games and he was one of our best players, if not our best.”
The Vees now await the winner of the AJHL’s Enerflex Cup. The Brooks Bandits and Fort McMurray Oil Barons are tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven set heading into Game 5 Thursday night. Game 6 goes Saturday.
The AJHL winner will host Game 1 of Doyle Cup regional series April 20.
Meanwhile, the BCHL has announced the schedule for the Western Canada Cup (WCC), which will replace the Doyle Cup series next season. The Nanaimo Clippers will host the inaugural tournament, April 26 to May 5, 2013.
With two teams from the WCC qualifying for the 2013 RBC Cup, an anticlimactic final – which would result from a traditional round-robin and playoff-style tournament – was avoided due to the unique format created by Clippers’ gameday operations manager Kyle Anderson, a Vernon native, through working with Clippers’ head coach Mike Vandekamp.
After researching dozens of past Junior A tournament formats, Anderson made a schedule that is fair for all five teams and ensures there is something on the line in each of the final three games of the event.
“I looked back on some past RBC Cups and there was always one team that had to play three days in a row and it was always the team that had the first day off,” noted Anderson. “We found a way to eliminate the chance of any team playing three days in a row by selectively scheduling those two dates where only one game is played.”
Also helping with the competitive balance of the WCC is that the first- and second-place teams after the round robin will then have to be defeated twice in the playoff round to be eliminated.
“In past RBC tournaments with #1 versus #4 and #2 versus #3, only 60 per cent of the time did the top-two teams out of the round robin actually face each other in the final,” said Anderson. “We felt it wasn’t fair, since we’re sending two teams, that a team could win less games and still go to the RBC Cup.”
The champion of the inaugural WCC will be determined in the #1 versus #2 game on Saturday, May 4th.