A number of former 100 Mile House Wranglers players suited up in the final of the Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL), three of them playing for the losing side, the Terrace River Kings.
Jaque Gilkerson, a former defenceman who played 22 games for the Wranglers organization in 2017-18, helped the Quesnel Kangaroos win the CIHL Championship.
Nolan Parr, a 19-year-old forward, is also on the Kangaroos’ roster but did not play in the final. Parr also played for the Wranglers in the 2017-18 season, appearing in 46 games and scoring 26 points.
The three players on the River Kings were Austin Turner, Ken Nordstrom and Nick Nordstrom.
Turner played 106 games for the Wranglers between 2014 and 2017. He finished his KIJHL career with 56 points.
Playing at the West Fraser Centre in front of a packed house of roaring fans, they scored seven unanswered goals in the second period to prevail 9-3 over the Terrace River Kings on Saturday (Mar. 2).
Ken Nordstrom only played one season (2013-14) with the club, registering 23 points in 47 games. Nick played in parts of three seasons between 2015-18, posting 15 points in 42 games for the club.
This is the first playoff championship for the Roos since joining the CIHL eight season ago.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” says team captain Waylon L’Heureux, who, along with Curtis Gassoff, applied for the team to join the league in the first place.
“It’s a proud moment to see what we could bring back to our community of Quesnel.
“We’re a big hockey town, so it’s super exciting.”
The most valuable player award for the playoffs went to first-year goaltender Brandon Peacock.
His captain says he was a top-notch asset throughout the two series’.
“Brandon is an unreal goaltender,” L’Heureaux says, “To be honest, we’re lucky to even have him.”
A modest Peacock turns the praise back to his teammates.
“It was a great season for everyone,” he says, ” It is especially special for the older guys who have been with the team from the start.”
He also had plenty of kind words for the defensive core who made life a little easier for him.
“They did all the right things,” he says, “Just keeping all those shots to the outside, doing a great job clearing lanes for me and just talking to me when I’m out there clearing the puck.”
Although the defense was rock-solid on the night, it was the offensive output in the second period that sealed the win for the home town team.
Tommy Grant notched a pair of goals and two assists in the middle frame alone to put a cap on the scorching run he has had throughout the playoffs.
Justin Fulton also had a pair of goals and two assists, including a helper on a third-period goal that came after Terrace came to life and potted three quick ones.
Brady Godsoe scored the opener of the evening in a tense opening period where it appeared the Kangaroos had some nerves.
Ryan Reynolds, Karl Weberg, Nick Tomassetti and Alessio Tomassetti all scored singles, with Alessio assisting on three goals too.
Head coach Harley Gilks says it is tough to express how much this means to everyone involved with the organization.
“There are a lot of emotions right now,” he says.
The first year head coach was a former Roos player who never imagined he would lead the club to success.
“I played earlier and we were just playing the game for fun,” he says, “It was something to do.
“I never thought I’d be coaching these guys this year and taking them this far.”
This will be the end of the season for many of the players who will not be participating in the 2019 Coy Cup.
While assistant captain Alessio Tomassetti says there is some regret among the players, the general consensus is there is no point in going if all the boys can’t make it.
“We went two times before and we got smoked because everyone wasn’t there,” he says.
“It’s tough for everyone to get the same week off,” he points out.
The River Kings also opted out of the cup, which will be held in Fort St. John (March 26-30), leaving Williams Lake and Prince Rupert as the CIHL representatives this year.