Coyotes collect crown

First time was a charm for the Osoyoos Coyotes.

The expansion Kootenay International Junior Hockey League club claimed its first playoff championship banner in its first attempt with a 7-1 win over the host Castlegar Rebels in Game 6 Saturday night.

Steve Sasyniuk scored 35 seconds into the game on a breakaway, giving the Coyotes a lead they would never relinquish.

Thierry Martine, Brock Anderson and Shane Hanna added first-period tallies, the latter coming with 10 seconds remaining in the frame.

Hanna, C.J. Kort and Mark Miller also tallied for Osoyoos in front of 1,100 fans.

Arthur Andrews answered for Castlegar in the third period, breaking netminder Kyle Laslo’s shutout bid.

The Coyotes scored four powerplay goals against a frustrated Rebels squad, while Laslo made 27 saves to collect the win.

Alex Ross and Cole Buckley shared duties in goal for the Rebels.

Graduating forward Erik Wentzel had one assist in his junior hockey finale, while Darren Tarasoff and Northern Michigan-bound Ryan Aynsley also saw their Rebels careers come to a close.

The Coyotes became the fourth KIJHL expansion team to win a championship in their inaugural season. Castlegar was the first, in 1977.

For the Rebels, it was their first trip to a league final in 15 years.

Osoyoos, who lost only twice in regulation during the KIJHL’s 50-game regular season, advances to the B.C. Junior B championship, the Cyclone Taylor Cup, which begins this Thursday in Fernie.

They face the PIJHL Richmond Sockeyes in their opener, followed by a Friday tilt against the host Fernie Ghostriders. Osoyoos ends the four-team round-robin Saturday against the VIJHL Peninsula Panthers.