The Kelowna Sparta are in the Coy Cup senior AA hockey provincial championships, March 21-25, in Whitehorse.
The Sparta stuffed the South Island Knights of Duncan 9-2 and 10-6 in a two-game, total-goal regional series last weekend at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.
Scott Wasden pulled the hat trick as Kelowna took Game 2 Sunday afternoon. Former Kelowna Rocket star Jason Deleurme, Steve Koshey and Marcel Fochs each supplied two goals, while Michigan State Spartan grad Kevin Walrod scored once in support of Tyler Briggs. Layne Stopanski registered five assists.
AJ Dzhevelekyan (2), Tanner Wiersma, Mattias Schmitt, Brenton Meadows and former Sicamous Junior B Eagle Kelyn Opel replied for the Knights. Opel counted three assists, while Wiersma pocketed a pair in front of Rob McNutt.
The Knights took six minor penalties and one major (kneeing on captain Jon Hollett), while Kelowna was assessed three minors by Vernon referee Jeremy Silzer. Kelowna held period leads of 3-1 and 7-4.
Aaron Buat bagged a deuce as the Sparta took the series opener Saturday night. Kolby Barnstable, Vernon minor hockey grad and ex-WHLer Sasha Golin, Layne Stopanski, Fuchs, Tyler Branszen, Branden Redschlag and Wasden handled the Kelowna offence. Jamie Jensen collected two helpers. Golin, 28, is the Sparta captain.
Dzhevelekyan and Schmitt answered for South Island, who trailed 3-1 and 6-2 by periods. Kelowna received four of seven minors called by Vernon referee Trevor Seibel in front of 200 fans.
“We are very pleased with the outcome last weekend; it is always great to see all four lines scoring,” said Sparta player rep Kelly Loudon. “We are excited to head to Whitehorse for the Coy Cup and hopefully come home with a championship”.
The first Coy Cup was awarded in the 1922-23 season, won by the Enderby Hockey Club.
The Quesnel Kangaroos (11) have won the most Coy Cups, including seven in a row from 1981-82 to 1987-88.
Teams from Vernon have won 10 Coy Cups, the last being the Vernon Luckies in 1964-65, coached by the late Vern Dye.
Former Vipers Bryce Kakoske and Dave Robinson are discussing plans to ice a Vernon team in Coy Cup playdowns next season.
Meanwhile, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks avoided elimination in the B.C. Hockey League playoffs by stopping the Trail Smoke Eaters 6-4 before 750 fans Wednesday night at the Shaw Centre.
The Smokies take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series into Friday night action at Cominco Arena.
Josh Latta scored twice to spark Salmon Arm, while Luke Santerno counted a deuce and Vernon’s Blaine Caton converted once for the Smokies. Trail clipped the Silverbacks 4-3 Tuesday night in Salmon Arm.
Should the Smokies win the first-round series, they will face the Vernon Vipers in a series scheduled to start Friday, March 17 at Kal Tire Place. The Vipers and Interior champion Penticton Vees received first-round byes.
The Vipers hold a skills competition Friday from 6-8 p.m. at Kal Tire Place. Admission is by donation. Players from the Vernon ScoreHawks and minor hockey will also compete.
The Merritt Centennials swept the defending Royal Bank Cup champion West Kelowna Warriors with a 4-3 win Tuesday night before 635 fans at Nicola Valley Arena. Vernon’s Brett Jewell, the Cents’ captain, pocketed 1+1 and finished the series with three goals.
Kyle Johnson bagged two goals as the Prince George Spruce Kings surprised the regular-season champion Wenatchee Wild 7-4 before 875 fans Wednesday night at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
Wenatchee leads the series 3-1 with Game 5 Friday night at the 4,300-seat Town Toyota Center.
Cole Pickup produced 2+1 as the Victoria Grizzlies edged the host Nanaimo Clippers 4-3 in front of 938 fans Wednesday night at Frank Crane Arena. Mike Vandekamp’s Clippers are down 3-1 in the Island series.
Carmine Buono connected on the powerplay at 1:49 of overtime as the visiting Powell River Kings brushed off the Cowichan Valley Capitals 4-3 before 575 supporters at Island Savings Centre in Duncan. Powell River swept the series.
The Chilliwack Chiefs hold a 3-1 lead on the Langley Rivermen with Game 5 Friday night at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack.
-Kevin Mitchell, Vernon Morning Star