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Cariboo Cougars move on, Northern Capitals stand down in BCEHL playoffs

The top minor hockey teams in region took on southern opponents in PG

The Cougars are moving on, the Capitals are not, in BC Elite Hockey League (BCEHL) action.

The U18-AAA Cariboo Cougars were victorious, in their first round match-up against the North West Hawks from Vancouver’s north shore. The best-of-three series was a Cougars sweep on home ice in Prince George, although neither game felt to the fans like they were easy wins.

The U18-AAA Northern Capitals all-girls team was also involved in two tight games and a home ice series sweep, only they were on the receiving end of that ousting, losing to the Vancouver Island Seals by scores of 3-1 and 2-1. The deciding game was knotted at 0-0 heading into the third period. Vanderhoof’s Sarah Prestmo got the Capitals on the board, assisted by Williams Lake’s Paige Cheek but it wasn’t enough for the win after the Seals countered with two of their own.

On the Cougars side, the first game was an 8-4 final that seemed much closer, according to the buzz of audience relief when the buzzer sounded. The common complaint was the Cougars kept letting the Hawks claw back to within striking distance. In Game 2 it was even worse, the Hawks scoring a pair of shorthanded goals to carry a 2-0 lead into the second period. The Cougars came back with two of their own, in the second period. The Hawks reestablished their lead in the third period only to have the Cougars tie it up late in the game to dramatically send the game to overtime. There, the final roar belonged to the hometown fans when a flurry of action in the Hawks end finally resulted in the deciding tally with only 54 seconds remaining in the first OT frame.

The BCEHL is the premier minor hockey league in the province. The Cougars-Capitals program is based in Prince George but all teams under their umbrella are populated by the best players across the northern half of B.C. plus the territories who are willing to make the move to the concentrated program. They are chosen through an autumn tryout process.

Virtually all regions of northern B.C. are represented on these teams. There is also a U17 and U15 team on the Cougars side, both of which were eliminated from their respective playoffs earlier in the month.

The U18 Cougars will now play the Vancouver North East Chiefs in the second round of their playoffs. Game 1 is Mar. 15 at 4 p.m. at Scotia Barn in Burnaby. Game 2 will be on Mar. 16 at 3:15 in the same arena. Should Game 3 be necessary it will be on Mar. 17 at 10:30 a.m.

Roster composition U18-AAA

Cariboo Cougars

In addition to the Prince George players (Shea Baker, Garrett Feeney, Josh Gendron, Ryder Green, Logan Hauk, Jaxon Larmand, Kenyon McIsaac, Brett Peebles, Jack Tidsbury, Lucas Woodbeck), the U18 Cariboo Cougars roster is made up of players from Williams Lake (Grady Gustafson, Jaxson Dikur, Ben Fofonoff), Charlie Lake (Landon Alexander, Mason Loewen), Quesnel (Isaiah Bagri), Dawson Creek (Owen Wilkinson), Chetwynd (Rylan Bissett), Terrace (William McKay), Kitimat (Brock Minaker), and Tyson Matthews with his connections to Houston, Whitehorse, Kelowna and Vernon.

Northern Capitals

In addition to the Prince George players (Abby Bryant, Knyla Evans, Luka Flannery, Paxton Fraser, Breanna Hunter, Avery Maloney, Sage Nohr, Payton Planetta, Anna Stewart), the U18 Northern Capitals roster is made up of players from Vanderhoof (Lauren Baker, Sarah Prestmo, Taylor Siemans), Williams Lake (Paige Cheek, Neen Suapa), Smithers (Nicole Bateman, Gabriella Meier), Cecil Lake (Staysha Hiebert), Gitanimaxx (Penelope Johnson), Fort St. John (Grace MacDonald), and Dawson Creek (Audrina Freeman).

U17 Cougars

In addition to the Prince George players (Kolton Bigras, Sam Bogle, Zachary Gobbi, Carter Hauk, Bryce Heggie, Andrik Lygas, Hunter Readman, Troy Stahl), the U17 Cougars roster is made up of players from Vanderhoof (Tomas Boon), Quesnel (Riley Lettington), Burns Lake (Philippe Lacerte, Desmond Tom), Cecil Lake (Peyten Legg-Cote), Nelson (Miller Tedesco), Kitimat (Mathias Ramos-Gadbois), Smithers (Carson Brookes), Terrace (Blake Collison), and Williams Lake (Lane Carson, Ben Fofonoff)

U15 Cougars

In addition to the Prince George players (Ivan Andersen, Jayden Brideau, Liam Elstad, Connor Feeney, Sascha Katsura, Sawyer Latkowski, Kolby Lutz, Ty Maloney, Kadric Mujcin, Gavan Parmar, Sam Stancati, Vincent Vassallo, Taryn Willis), the U15 Cougars roster is also made up of players from Prince Rupert (Marco Pomponio), Quesnel (Morgan Reed, Brayden Scott), Williams Lake (Cole Chapman, Layne Rankin and Sascha Katsura), and Terrace (Foster Armstrong).

READ MORE: Elite Quesnel hockey players line up for 2023-24 faceoff

READ MORE: Cariboo Hockey Recap: Northern Capitals finish second in league after splitting final games

Frank Peebles

About the Author: Frank Peebles

I started my career with Black Press Media fresh out of BCIT in 1994, as part of the startup of the Prince George Free Press, then editor of the Lakes District News.
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