From start to finish, losing was not in the vocabulary of the Westwood Pub Devils.
They wrote the final chapter of a remarkable 24-0 season Sunday afternoon at Kin 1 which ended with a 10-6 win over the Port Moody Express in the Treasure Cove Casino Invitational provincial senior lacrosse championship final.
"Our main thing was our numbers -- we ran with a full bench or more all season," said Devils manager Chris Scott. "We're only allowed to dress 18 and I had 21 or 22 guys showing up for every game. The Assault, the Bandits, all those teams saw what a difference it makes having a few [pickup players] and they stepped it up. Our depth and our numbers really pulled it off for us."
The Devils went 12-0 in the regular season, then reeled off seven playoff wins and five more in the tournament. With the win, the Devils also claimed the provincial senior C title, denying the Express of their fifth-straight B.C. championship.
Four unanswered Devils goals in the third period doomed Port Moody. The Express came into the game having won the Invitational title in each of the past three years.
"Going into this tournament we knew the Devils were going to be the team to beat and to their credit, with more bodies they had more gas in the end than we did," said Express captain Cam Comeau, who had four assists. "We got into unnecessary penalty trouble in the third, which really hampered our comeback effort, but I'm really proud of the 14 players we had with us. From Brizan all the way out, the Devils had their gunners on today and they made us pay."
The teams were tied 5-5 five minutes into the third period when Express forward Toumay Tahamtazedah took off on an odd-man rush, stopped inside Devils territory and fed the ball to Andrew McFeeters, whose high shot beat goalie Steven Brizan. Cameron Braun tied it soon after with a low shot.
The Express ran into a serious obstacle when Andrew McFeeters nailed Devils ball carrier Jamie Klarenbeek with a head shot, drawing a five-minute major penalty, compounded by an unsportsmanlike conduct call to Express forward Justin Thomas. On the 5-on-3 opportunity, Andrew Schwab took a cross-crease pass from Danton Nicholson and fired it in past Andrew Copeland to put the Devils up 7-6. The Express penalty parade continued and Nicholson converted on an unassisted effort with 6:21 left
Down two goals with more three minutes left, the Express pulled Copeland to the bench for the extra runner but that plan backfired when Blake McIntosh scooped up a loose ball and scored into the empty net. Colton Poulin, one of the youngest Devils at 18, led all scorers in the final with three goals, nailing down his hat trick coming with 1:50 left.
The Devils outshot the Express 51-38. Devils goalie Steven Brizan loomed large all game but was at his best in the first two periods.
"It was a fun game to pay, wish I could play it like that all the time," said Brizan.
Braun and Schwab each scored twice in the final. Thomas paced the Express with two goals and an assist. Three goals in the second period put the Devils ahead 5-2. Schwab set up Braun with a soft pass just outside the crease, and a couple minutes later, Nicholson streaked out of the corner and dove as he shot to find the net. Poulin stretched the lead to 5-2 with a quick shot while moving through the slot.
But the veteran-laden Express weren't about to cave in and scored the next three to get back to even terms. A shorthanded goal from Thomas and even-strength markers from Ryan Scharbach and Tahamtazedah tied it heading into the final period.
Schwab was a key addition for the Devils after getting picked up in a pre-season trade from the Stylers and celebrated his first provincial title. His relentless efforts set the tone 14 minutes into the game when he stripped the ball away from Express defenceman Ryan Jacobsen and scored. The Devils crafted more thievery late in the period when Braun whacked the ball out of the stick of Shaun O'Leary and Poulin finished with a shot from the slot, three seconds before the first intermission.
"The third period was really our period in every single game, we had the numbers and we could outrun the other teams," said Schwab. "We were a little quicker [in the final] and they were probably exhausted after playing this morning."
Earlier Sunday, Damon Calfa scored seven goals and added two assists to inspire the BX Pub Bandits to a 17-7 win over the Northland Nissan Assault 17-7 in the bronze medal game.
Calfa was virtually unstoppable in the second period when he got the ball close to the net, scoring five times to make it a blowout.
Backed by Armstrong goalie Chad Pieper and the return of forward Brett Doig, who came out of retirement for the tournament, the Bandits built a 4-2 lead after one period. Bandits' pickup Steve Clark of Armstrong contributed five goals and three assists. John Makowsky scored four to lead the Assault.
"We had more bodies today than we had all year and we just pulled it together and got the win," said Calfa. "Usually the second period is our worst period but we turned it around and we were running hard and moving the ball up the floor and getting the loose balls."