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Road to the 2022 TELUS Cup: Vancouver NE Chiefs

Rookies on the national stage, the Pacific Region champions are ready to leave carry their momentum from a historic series win into Okotoks and end a 40-year drought for B.C.

Bernadette Larose
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May 4, 2022
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It has been 40 years since long-time NHLer Cliff Ronning led Burnaby Winter Club to a 3-1 win over Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy and the Gouverneurs de Sainte-Foy to give British Columbia its one and only national men’s U18 club championship.

The Vancouver North East Chiefs are hoping that drought ends in Okotoks as they make their TELUS Cup debut.

The Chiefs have already ended another streak for their province, albeit not nearly as long; by downing the Calgary Buffaloes in the Pacific Regional, they became the first B.C. team to beat the Alberta champions since the Okanagan Rockets – led by current NHLer Tyson Jost – won their way to the 2014 TELUS Cup.

The Chiefs are deserving Pacific Region champions, having topped the B.C. Elite Hockey League (BCEHL) in the regular season with just four regulation-time losses in 35 games before suffering just a single playoff defeat on their way to the BCEHL title.

Hosting the Buffaloes – seven-time Pacific Region champions themselves – in the regional final, Vancouver NE fell into an early hole in the best-of-three series after Calgary eked out a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1.

Matteo Pero saved the Chiefs’ season with an extra-time winner in Game 2 after the Buffaloes had erased a 3-0 deficit, and Matthew Wise’s second-period goal stood up as the decider in a 2-1 nail-biter in Game 3, sending Vancouver NE to Okotoks.

“It was little bit of an up-and-down year,” says Chiefs general manager Greg Harding. “Lots of success, but there were times where we went through some tough stretches and some injuries that set us back a little bit. But it was always a goal of ours, a realistic goal for us to win our league.

“It's not easy to get through regionals and beat the competition coming out of Alberta. I think once we got there, we had an expectation that we were going to win it, but at the same time, you're in a bit of shock when it does happen.”

The key for the Chiefs, according to head coach Jamie Jackson? With the players coming off a lost season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was just about being back on the ice. The results would take care of themselves.

“It's not [something our players thought about], especially [because of] the past two years of kids not competing in playoffs,” Jackson says. “So, I think it's all going to be brand new to all of us.

“[The TELUS Cup has] always been in the back of my mind, something that I would like to attend and be a part of, but for the players, I think it's just going to be completely brand new.”

Vancouver NE opens its TELUS Cup schedule against the Quebec Region champions, the Cantonniers de Magog, on May 16.

HOW THEY GOT TO OKOTOKS
British Columbia Elite Hockey League

Quarterfinal: defeated North Island Silvertips 2-0 (10-3, 6-2)

Semifinal: defeated Greater Vancouver Canadians 2-1 (2-4, 4-3, 4-2)

Final: defeated Vancouver NW Hawks 2-0 (3-2, 4-2)

Pacific Regional
Championship: defeated Calgary Buffaloes 2-1 (2-3 OT, 4-3 OT, 2-1)

REGULAR SEASON
Record: 26-4-1-5 (1st in BCEHL)
Goals for: 161
Goals against: 104
Longest winning streak: 10 (Oct. 24-Dec. 11)
Top 3 scorers:
- Tomis Marinkovic – 21G 19A 40P (8th in BCEHL)

- Andrew Casellato – 17G 19A 36P (15th in BCEHL)

- Theo Kochan – 15G 17A 32P (20th in BCEHL)

PLAYOFFS
Record: 8-2
Goals for: 41
Goals against: 25
Top 3 scorers:
- Dryden Kuramoto – 5G 10A 15P

- Andrew Casellato – 4G 5A 9P

- Tomis Marinkovic – 1G 8A 9P

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
First appearance

PLAYERS TO WATCH
DRYDEN KURAMOTO...High offensive I.Q...Leading scorer through playoffs...2021 WHL Cup winner with Team BC

TOMIS MARINKOVIC...Team captain...1.25 points per game...6’3, 185lb left shooter

WHL DRAFTED PLAYERS
Dryden Kuramoto – Calgary 2021 (6th round, 124th overall)

Tait Humphries – Saskatoon 2020 (8th round, 165th overall)


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