Cranbrook’s Bowen Byram is a Stanley Cup champion after he and the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Sunday night.
Byram is the first Cranbrook player in 15 years to win the Stanley Cup after Rob and Scott Niedermayer won it back in the 2006-07 season.
The Avalanche dominated all playoffs long, only losing four games.
“I’m just so proud of these guys and their dedication, commitment and hunger to try and win this year,” said head coach Jared Bednar in a post-game interview on the ice.
“They’ve been fantastic since day one in training camp. I love seeing the look on their faces that they all came together and got rewarded. It’s amazing.”
Byram also had a strong playoff, putting up nine assists in 20 games.
He assisted on the Avalanche’s first goal of the game last night, slapping a pass to Nathan MacKinnon who rocketed the puck into the back of the net.
The coach put a lot of faith into the young 21-year-old as he was on the ice for over 25 minutes.
While Byram was able to win the most coveted prize in hockey in his first full season, for a lot of players, they can go their whole careers without that chance.
Byram’s partner on the blueline Erik Johnson had been trying for 15 seasons.
“It’s better than I imagined. This is amazing. I’m so proud of our guys,” said Johnson in a postgame interview on NHL.com.
“I got to Denver 12 years ago and we were dead last in the league and came in dead last again four years after that. It’s about believing in yourself and surrounding yourself with people that believe in you and special things can happen.”
He said he almost called it quits last year.
“Last summer I thought I might have to retire and here I am a Stanley Cup champion with some of my best friends in the world. I’m so grateful.”
Byram’s season was full of ups and downs.
He went from recovering from a concussion during the off-season, to having a great start to the year as a rookie, to being sidelined by another head injury.
That injury kept him off the ice for almost half the season as he dealt with lingering side effects.
“There’s a lot of things that are tied to concussions. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with different people about it but there are a lot of things tied to it and they can show themselves at any time,” said Byram.
“Unfortunately that happened to me after I was feeling better again. That’s life and I did what I had to do to get better and I’m feeling better now.”
During the regular season, he put up five goals and 14 assists for 19 points.
Byram’s next appearance will be on Thursday when he and the rest of the Avalanche parade through Denver with the Stanley Cup.