BY: BEN LYPKA, MISSION CITY RECORD
There was something special about this team.
The deficit didn’t seem to bother them, as they rallied back to win four in a row, then swept the Abbotsford Pilots, and on Saturday they achieved their dreams by taking out the Grandview Steelers in five in the PJHL championship series.
Mission outgunned the Steelers 7-2 on Saturday, picking up goals from Bryce Pisiak, Baylee Wright (two), Kolby Steen, Ryan Sharma, Brock Padgham and Brody Dyck.
It’s the first PJHL title in franchise history for the Outlaws, and head coach Brad Veitch said it’s amazing to see the progression of eight of his players over their three year run to the top. Back in 2012-13, the Outlaws won only nine games all season – they won 10 in a row in the playoffs alone this year.
“It’s hard to put into words what this means,” he said, watching as his team celebrated the PJHL title win. “I think there’s eight guys that were here three years ago that started this. To still have that many guys from a bottom team and take them to a championship brings a lot of pride to this organization and it should be a proud moment for those players too.”
One of those players was Outlaws captain David McGowan. He actually suited up for the Hope Icebreakers for four games as an underage player, and then followed the team to his hometown of Mission where they were renamed the Outlaws for the 2012-13 season.
“We’ve come pretty far since I was here four years ago,” he said, following the game. “The first couple of years were kind of rough, but each year we’ve been able to get better and better with hard work and dedication.”
McGowan set the PJHL single season record for assists this season, and just like the Outlaws, he blossomed into a force. Mission’s win totals went from nine to 11 to 21 to 31 this year, and the play of McGowan was a big part of that turnaround. He said the chemistry in the room helped them overcome that 3-0 hole they faced against the Flames in round one.
“The group of guys we have here get along so well and we would do anything for each other,” he said. “When we were down to the Flames, nobody in the room ever said we were done, and we never doubted each other.”
Another player that grew along with the Outlaws was assistant captain Brody Dyck. The Aldergrove native has been on the same ride as McGowan, spending four years with Mission and being a part of the ups and downs. He said he’ll never forget this playoff run.
“It’s just surreal to win this,” he said. “I’ve been here since day one and it’s great to see this franchise turn it around. [Outlaws general manager ] Scott [Kieler] has put a lot of work into this team, finding players from nowhere to help us out and he has put so much into us.”
Dyck said the victory over the Flames couldn’t have been possible without the play of several key veterans.
“We came prepared to play in those final four games against Ridge,” he said. “Our captain [McGowan], Pisiak and Jeff [Veitch, goalie] were all so solid for us and really turned it on.”
Coach Veitch said as soon as the bounces began going the Outlaws way, he knew the rest of the league was in trouble in the playoffs.
“We had a lot of adversity in that first round,” he said. “The toughest part was us just getting a break. We were squeezing our sticks really hard the first three games, and once we got a break and started rolling the guys began feeling confident and started putting numbers up. We made some really good goalies look average in this playoffs.”
Next up for the Outlaws is a trip to Victoria and the Cyclone Taylor Cup, which is the provincial championship for Junior B in B.C. Mission will take on the Victoria Cougars and the Campbell River Storm from the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, and a still to be determined team from the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
The tournament kicks runs from April 7 to 10 in the provincial capital. Read the Mission City Record for more on the Outlaws run in the CTC.