By Ben Lypka
The most successful season in the history of the Mission City Outlaws is over.
Mission placed fourth at the Cyclone Taylor Cup in Victoria on Sunday, but the result doesn’t dampen the club’s memorable playoff run.
The Outlaws opened the tournament on April 7 with a 7-2 win over the Campbell River Storm from the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Mission’s high-powered offence was on display with six different players scoring goals and five players having multiple-point games.
Kyle Lennea (two), Ryan Sharma, Kolby Steen, Bryce Pisiak, Brody Dyck and Brock Padgham all tallied for the Outlaws.
“We capitalized on our scoring chances that game,” said Outlaws defenceman Nick Thompson, who picked up a pair of assists in the win. “We played a good team game, and it was our best effort of the tournament.”
The Outlaws continued round robin play on April 8 against the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League champion 100 Mile House Wranglers, and couldn’t solve Wranglers goalie Zane Steeves, who made 49 saves to backstop his team to a 2-1 win.
Outlaws captain David McGowan scored Mission’s lone goal, and Mission goalie Jeffrey Veitch made 38 saves himself, but it wasn’t enough.
“Their goalie had an unreal game and we just couldn’t seem to beat him,” Thompson said.
Mission took on host team the Victoria Cougars on Saturday and battled back from a 5-1 deficit to tie the game, but an untimely penalty put the Cougars on the power play and they took the lead for good in the third period. Victoria went on to win 7-5.
The loss dashed the gold medal hopes for the Outlaws and meant the best they could hope for would be bronze. Tristan Dundas, Baylee Wright, Steen, Pisiak and Dyck all scored for Mission.
The Outlaws ended the tournament with an 8-4 loss on Sunday to the Storm to finish fourth. Dyck (two), Pisiak and McGowan scored for Mission.
Despite the loss, Thompson said the 2015-16 season was one to remember for the Outlaws.
“We have so much to be proud of,” he said. “We turned this franchise around and put Mission back on the map for Junior B hockey. We’re all proud of what we did. We had a great season but came up short.”
Mission won its first ever Pacific Junior Hockey League championship on March 26, and Thompson said it was the culmination of years of work from players and management.
“We had a special thing going this year and hopefully they can continue,” he said. “I have no doubt the organization is on the right track. Scott [Kieler] has done a great job as general manager, and Brad [Veitch] has done wonders with this group as a coach. Brad developed the core of this team into champions.”