The Delta Ice Hawks are taking their season to Revelstoke next week after a thrilling game seven victory to capture the Stonehouse Cup.
They are headed to the Cyclone Taylor Cup thanks to a 4-3 overtime win over the Ridge Meadows Flames in front of a capacity crowd at George Preston Arena in Langley on Sunday night.
Kyle Robinson banged home a loose puck at the 6:11 mark of overtime — after another timely pinch by blueliner Yuji Akimoto — to send his team into a frenzy. It’s the Hawks’ fifth Pacific Junior Hockey League championship in their 25-year history and none came with more adversity.
A pair of home ice losses to open the best-of-seven affair meant Delta had to win four of the remaining five games against a Ridge Meadows team that was riding a seven-game win streak into the finals. The Flames also exploded in the third period for a 7-3 game five victory on Thursday night in Ladner.
The Ice Hawks answered by winning all three games at Cam Neely Arena including a clutch 2-1 game six triumph on Saturday night to set-up the winner take-all-scenario.
“There were some games this year where we just found a way to win,” said Ice Hawks GM and head coach Steve Robinson. “We grew comfortable playing in close games and that was important. Even tonight, when they tied the game (at 3-3) there was no panic at the bench. It was more like this is going to take a little longer.
“It’s really a shame that either team in a situation like this had to lose tonight. I thought the two teams mirrored each other quite well. They had a great season and they were a great opponent. You couldn’t ask for a better final.”
After a tough game five outing, Delta goaltender Merik Erickson rebounded with a pair of clutch performances to celebrate his 19th birthday over the weekend.
“It was obviously a tough third period for me, but it was just one period and I knew I had been playing good the rest of the series,” said the North Delta native. “I was super anxious going into (game six), but also excited to have that opportunity again. It’s pretty crazy to see a series where both teams lose three times on home ice then go into overtime in game seven, but it’s a storybook ending for us.”
The Ice Hawks now will have the opportunity for redemption at the Cyclone Taylor Cup (April 13-16) after losing in the gold medal game a year ago on home ice. They will face the champions of the Kootenay and Vancouver Island leagues, along with host Revelstoke.
Among the four 20-year-olds returning from last year’s team is Ladner’s Carson Hemenway who was among the game seven goal scorers Sunday. He had a chance to celebrate the championship with his younger brother Ty, one of seven rookies in the line-up for game seven.
“Practising together each summer, it’s definitely a good feeling to win this with this him and being d-men partners the whole year we kind of clicked right away, obviously,” said Carson. “There’s definitely some (unfinished business) at Cyclone. We got a taste of it last year and know what it’s all about.”