Their challenger was a formidable one, but the Rainbow Chrysler Red Wings held off the high-powered offence of the CW Contracting Hammer Kings to successfully claim their second-straight Cook’s Cup in the Prince Rupert Pick-up Hockey League.
Up one game to nothing in the best-of-three cup final thanks to a 5-2 Game One win, the Red Wings closed out the finals with another victory over the Kings, who were playing in their first season as a newly-formed squad in the five-team recreation league, by a score of 4-2 last Wednesday night.
Not only did the Red Wings need to score against the regular season champion Kings (26-14-2, W-L-T), who only allowed 166 goals in 42 games played, they needed to stop the Kings’ full-throttle offence, which scored 249 goals throughout the year, beating the next-highest team, the Oceanside Lightning, by 54 goals.
“[Our goaltender] Warren [Hanson] stood on his head for both games,” said Red Wings winger Paul Vendittelli.
“He was a key piece for us.”
The second-seeded Red Wings, who finished 19-14-7 during the year, swept the third-seeded Lightning in two games to get them to the final. The Kings defeated the P.R. Grain Flyers 8-2 and 7-3 in their semifinal series.
The Hawkair Regulators didn’t reach the playoffs, finishing in fifth with a record of 13-22-6.
“They were definitely pressing and Warren stood on his head for both games … The Kings opened the scoring two minutes into the game [in Game Two] and then we went up 3-1,” said Vendittelli.
Mike Cote notched the Wings’ fourth goal, and on their third, Raymond Weikel made a great saucer-pass out of the corner to feed Jared Meers. Kendal Stace-Smith opened the scoring for Rainbow Chrysler.
“We kept going. We had three lines and we just kept rolling them,” said Vendittelli, adding the core of the team had remained from last year’s winning group.
“We lost my cousin, Jordan … and picked up Scott Allen and then Jordan van der Wiel, who played in net for us last year – he played out, so we ended up getting Warren,” he said.
Jeremy Boot and Jamie Schenkveld replied for the Kings and Darren Larsen tended the crease.
The five teams (Red Wings, Kings, Lightning, Flyers and Regulators) drafted players to their teams at the start of the league’s fourth season in the fall of 2014 and, because the Kings were an altogether new team, they were seen to be a bit of a wild card who turned out to be a powerhouse.
“These days a lot of people are moving into town … so you get a bunch of names that you don’t know and you have to build this fifth team, and you get people like Chris Woodrow and Jeremy Boot and the guys who you know are awesome and then you have these hidden gems and you end up with a pretty deep team,” said the winger.
Vendittelli would like to thank Rainbow Chrysler, who sponsored the team’s new jerseys and the new name (last year they were the Rainbow Chrysler Capitals), Cook’s Jewellers, Hawkair and a myriad of other sponsors who made the season possible.
Michael Ikari takes over as rec-league president for the departed Renaud Lavoie.