Kings Win 2010 Anavet Cup
Friday, April 23, 2010
Dauphin Kings are No. 1! No. 1 in Manitoba.
And now the MJHL champs are No. 1 in the annual hockey battle known as the ANAVET Cup.
Kings, winners of 50 games over the regular season, flexed their hockey muscles Thursday night in a convincing 6-1 victory over La Ronge IceWolves before 2,100 rabid fans at Credit Union Place. Kings won the best-of-seven series 4-1 and left no doubt they are one of the best teams in Canada, evidenced by their high ranking all season long in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
"This is an incredible team," an ecstatic Cody Esposito told CKDM-Dauphin. "We had a lot of skilled guys, some real special guys...A lot of hard-working guys. We've been through a lot of adversity. It was a very tough bus trip home (from La Ronge).
"But we continued to battle hard, put it (food poisoning) behind us and won it. It's amazing to be part of this team and the championships we've won."
The victory was the Kings' second only ANAVET Cup in 27 years. The win also returns to the ANAVET back to Manitoba, last won in 2007 by Selkirk Steelers in an incredible triple OT effort over Humboldt Broncos in Game 7.
Dallas Drysdale, who was a mainstay on the Kings' blueline, credited strong defensive play for the championship.
"We just kept on them all night and got the success we wanted," said Drysdale. "We worked our tails off to make sure they don't get any second shots and keep them. The RBC is going to be tough. But we'll do our best. We're going to celebrate this cup."
From the outset the Kings were determined not to return to La Ronge for Games 6 and 7, and the scene of a terrible food-poisoning incident after Game 2 last Saturday. Despite several players having to spend time in the hospitals and many others violently ill, the Kings overcame the adversity and posted convincing victories to sweep all three games in Dauphin.
Despite the loss the IceWolves will return to Dauphin, representing Saskatchewan-Manitoba. The IceWolves were guaranteed a spot in the national championship prior to the ANAVET Cup playoffs.
Kings, who held period leads of 3-0 and 4-1, scored their first four goals on the powerplay. Classy captain Steven Shamanski, the MJHL's player of the year recipient, led the winners with a pair of goals, with singles coming from Cody Esposito, Ryan Dreger, Zeanan Ziemer and Mitch Czibere (10th of playoffs).
Joe Caligiuri saw his shutout bid end with 1:05 remaining in the second period. He was flawless over the next 20 minutes to ensure the Kings championship.
"Our team over the last three games played so well defensively," said Caligiuri. "It made my job that much easier. I can't say enough about them. This is an unreal win for the city and our fans."
It would be safe to say when hockey historians look back to the 2010 season, the Kings will be considered one of the best-ever clubs to suit up. Consider the club set a franchise-high 50 wins and continued the momentum bulldozing their way through the MJHL playoffs, suffering only a single loss (to Swan Valley) enroute to a 12-1 record.
All total, the Kings post-season record is an incredible 16-2, with hopefully more wins to post at the upcoming RBC Cup next month in Dauphin. Kings will be looking to snap a nearly four decade long drought at the national championship - Selkirk Steelers winning the MJHL's last title in the 1973-74 season.
EXTRA SHOTS: Kings' steady workhorse Mitch Czibere was named the ANAVET Cup MVP. ...The MJHL last hosted the national Junior A championship in 1993 at the Winnipeg Arena. Thunder Bay won the championship, defeating Winkler Flyers in the final....Czibere's goal extended his points streak to seven games...Fans are encouraged to purchase their RBC tickets. For general ticket information, please contact Dauphin's Countryfest Office at (204) 622-3700 or 1-888-459-2010...Last time Dauphin Kings won the ANAVET Cup their captain was Barry Trotz, who is now the head coach of the NHL Nashville Predators.