In a playoff run filled with great comebacks, the Peninsula Panthers didn’t need one in Sunday’s final game of the Cyclone Taylor Cup in Fernie.
The Panthers carried a 4-3 lead into the third and added an empty-net goal to down the host Fernie Ghostriders 5-3 and claim the provincial Junior B championship.
Peninsula advances to the Keystone Cup for the Western Canadian championship beginning April 14 in Sherwood Park, Alta.
The win capped off a remarkable run for the Panthers, who lost out to the Revelstoke Grizzlies in last year’s Cyclone Taylor Cup final.
This year, Peninsula was down 3-0 in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League finals to the Victoria Cougars. However, the team strung together four straight wins to complete the stunning comeback.
After opening with a 3-3 draw against Fernie, the Panthers downed Richmond 6-4 on Friday thanks to three third-period goals.
In the team’s final round robin game on Saturday, Peninsula rallied from a 6-2 deficit to score four goals in the third, including two in the final two minutes to gain a 6-6 draw with the Osoyoos Coyotes.
The KIJHL-champion Coyotes finished last in the four-team tourney with two losses and one draw. Throughout 50 KIJHL regular-season games, the Coyotes lost only twice.
On Sunday, Osoyoos blanked the Richmond Sockeyes 3-0 to take the bronze medal.
In the gold-medal game, Fernie and Peninsula were deadlocked at 2-2 after one period before the Panthers pulled ahead thanks to back-to-back power play goals, seven minutes apart, from Kyle Peterson that put his team ahead to stay.
Peninsula captain Zach Mazo was named the tournament MVP.
The Ghostriders topped the round robin with a 2-0-1 record followed by the Panthers, Richmond and Osoyoos.
Trail native Thomas Abenante and Fernie teammate Scott Morisseau were tied for second in tournament scoring with four points.
Abenante was one of four players presented with a $500 tournament scholarship. One player from each participating team was awarded a scholarship, determined by the Cyclone Taylor Cup committee.