A pair of wins over the visiting Powell River Regals on the weekend has earned the Kelowna Sparta a berth in the Coy Cup tournament in Williams Lake next month.
Sparta edged the Regals 5-4 on Friday and cruised to a 10-4 victory on Saturday at the CNC to win the senior AA independent hockey league’s best-of-three semifinal in two straight games.
Meanwhile, Sparta, scheduled to meet the North Island Capitals in the league final series, received word on Monday the Vancouver Island team is forfeiting the best-of-three affair, leaving Sparta with the fourth berth at the Coy Cup tournament that will determine B.C.’s senior AA champion.
“North Island just felt they couldn’t put together a competitive team against us, especially for the long road trip,” explained Sparta’s Kelly Loudoun, whose team had won three of four games against the Capitals this season. “It’s disappointing because we could have used the good competition. As it is now, we’ll be just practising until the Coy Cup tournament (March 27-31).
Sparta, runners-up at the Coy Cup last season, will be joined in Williams Lake by the hosts, as well as Central Interior Hockey League-champion Terrace, and Dawson Creek of the northern B.C. independent league.
The provincial tournament begins with a round-robin format, with the top team earning a bye into the final and the second- and third-place teams meeting to determine the other finalist.
A three-goal performance by Marcel Fuchs — including the overtime winner — led Sparta to the 5-4 win on Friday. Taylor Jordan and Alex Ozielski added single goals for the hosts while Shane Mainprize stopped 32 of 36 shots for the goaltending win.
On Saturday, Sparta trailed 2-0 until midway through the first period but pulled even by the end of 20 minutes and then scored five unanswered goals in the second on the way to clinching the series.
Loudoun scored three times to lead Kelowna’s scoring parade while Tylor Branzsen added a pair of goals to go along with singles from Jordan, Lane Stopanski, Aaron Buat, Dave Mann and Sasha Golin. Mainprize again earned the win in goal, stopping 39 of 43 Powell River shots.