Well sports fans, 7 long years it’s been since the Rowcliff Cup has made its way gleaming back to our fair city. Friday night it sat, bright and polished, high upon the rafters of Ol’ Memorial Arena, waiting patiently to be claimed by its victor. A long while it’s been since The Raiders hoisted it high into the air, kissed it, drank from it, revelled in the success it takes to capture it. I have watched my fair share of the fastest game on two feet, I’ve even done a stint or two in the scorching heat myself, and on occasion, you can feel the tingle of fate in the air, mixed in with the cool summer breeze. And here comes the boys in black!
The packed house cheers wildly, lending their voices to the pursuit of the Win. Lead by their hero #12 Andrew Garant the Raiders take the floor, looking to squash the Rattlers belief that they’re anything less then perfect. The offence wastes no time doing what it is they were born to do. No posts tonight to save the day. Only net, filled with 2.5 inches of bright white rubber. The Rattlers defence stands in awe as the Raiders attack with brilliant speed. Garant, Wilson, Rhodes, and Siegner. Davies, Pho, and Phillips. They stand as one, moving in unison, striking with ferocity. The buzzer sounds. 6-1 Kelowna in the first.
The second period lends itself to defence as the Rattlers attempt to mount the long, uphill road of a comeback. They start to swarm and with the Raiders in the box they begin their ascent. But the heart and soul of this team comes from their back end toughness. Pounded hard like an ancient metal cuirass. They push back against the onslaught like 300 soldiers versus the horde of Xerxes. Mcintosh, Helgesen, Aldridge, Jackson and Teichroeb. Giant beast of men, hard hitting and unforgiving. Kinakin, Ramsey, Takaberry, Mondor and Mcmillan. Speed and tenacity unparalleled, the fast break, the veins taking blood from heart to limb. And Belsham, the constant reminder of the pain and suffering that comes with the game we love. The Defence stand tall and proud, doing their best to quell the winds of change, killing the penalties that aim to steal their prize. Second period ends, the Rattlers claw back 11-7 Kelowna.
The third period draws to stalemate, neither side gaining ground as fatigue of a long fought series begins to show. Between the pipes Cousins shows his grim resolve to keep his team from losing pace. Time and time again he’s tested and time again he turns them back. Perfect positioning, some have used the word immaculate to describe him at his craft. With a top ten finish in points it’s only a matter of time before he sends the ball on a line. And just like that, from chest pad to stick, stick to shoulder the ball is sent long to a streaking black jersey. The flood gates are opened and the Raiders being to hammer the nail into the coffin. As the crowd stands to pound their feet to the rhythmic beat of 18 sticks thundering against the boards, the clock winds down and the buzzer sounds. Cheers of joy and elation erupt from the fans as their hometown hero’s rush the floor, helmets and gloves sent flying. The Raiders have done it. 16-9 #12 Andy Garant, just shy of a 100 point season, steps up from the line of his peers, his goal scoring hands claims the Cup and he lifts it high for all to see. Kelowna has brought the Rowcliff Cup home, they did their city and their club proud. The Cup has come home to K-Town!