The Smithers Steelheads are CIHL Champions for the second year in a row.
The Steelheads came back to the Smithers Civic Centre last weekend down one game to Williams Lake in the best-of-three series, needing to win two straight to capture the SMP Cup.
The Fish did not disappoint, coming out hard in both matches, defeating the Stampeders 6-3 Saturday night and 7-3 on Sunday afternoon to win the league championship.
“Last year was great, this year is great and playing a good team like Williams Lake is really rewarding,” coach Tom DeVries said.
“It’s really fun to hang out with these guys.
“They’re really good guys.”
Despite having their back against the wall, defenceman Spencer Brooks said the team never lost confidence in their ability to win two in a row.
“We knew coming back home down one game we were going to play well at our own rink,” Brooks said.
“As long as we beat their goalie early and often we were going to win because our defence and our goaltending is so solid.”
Randall Groot said the team felt good about their chances in the final two games, due in large part to the excellent play of goalie Mike Wall.
“I have to give credit where credit is due,” Groot said.
“Mike Wall is constantly making big saves for us.
“I can’t say enough about him.”
Ian Smith, who led the Steelheads in playoff scoring, was named playoff MVP.
“It’s being in the right place at the right time, really,” Smith said.
“My teammates are the ones that fed me the puck.”
The Steelheads finished with a regular season record of 18 wins and 3 losses. They lost lost just twice in three playoff series against the Houston Luckies, Kitimat Ice Demons and Williams Lake Stampeders.
The team’s three losses all happened in succession at the end of the year, which had some teams wondering if the Steelheads were going to be able to finish what they had started, Smith said.
“We just wanted redemption last year,” Smith said.
“This year, everyone was gunning for us so we wanted to go out on top and show the league that we’ve still got it.
“Some people didn’t think we were for real, and we proved it tonight that we were.”
Was this win more meaningful than last year’s SMP Cup?
“I think the first time was the sweetest,” Smith said.
“This is just icing on the cake right now.”
The season is now over for the Steelhead as they chose to opt out of this year’s Coy Cup, because it would essentially be another tournament with teams they have been playing against all season.
The expense and time were not worth the extra effort, the team decided.