Pembroke Lumber Kings and Vernon Vipers Advance to Final
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Brandon Gagne tipped in a Stefan Salituro shot with 5:47 to go, helping the Pembroke Lumber Kings a 4-2 semifinal victory over the Camrose Kodiaks on Saturday night, sending the Lumber Kings to Sunday's national championship game against the two-time defending champions from Vernon.
Pembroke is into the final for the first time in four appearances during the tournament-style format. The Lumber Kings played for the national title in 1973 and 1977, during the days of the East vs. West best-of-seven final, but lost in the semifinals in 1987, 1988 and 2007.
Matthew Peca, Maurice Alvarez and Mitchell Gallant - into an empty net - also scored for Pembroke, which avenged a 2-1 preliminary round loss to the Kodiaks. Salituro finished with three assists, while Francis Dupuis made 25 saves, including a number of stops on two late Camrose power plays.
Rylan Wiest scored both goals for Camrose, which erased a 2-0 deficit and tied the game on Wiest's second goal with 9:57 remaining, only to come up short in front of a standing-room only pro-Kodiaks crowd at the Edgeworth Centre. Tournament MVP and Top Goaltender Dalyn Flette had another strong game between the pipes for Camrose, making 30 saves. Camrose missed out on the final for just the second time in six appearances at the national championship.
Bryce Kakoske had a pair of goals to lead the offence as the Vernon Vipers advanced to the championship game at the RBC Cup for the third year in a row with a 4-1 semifinal win over the Wellington Dukes on Saturday.
Kakoske is one of three players - along with defencemen Adam Thompson and Steve Weinstein - who can win an unprecedented third straight RBC Cup on Sunday. His first goal, with 8.6 seconds left in the first period, broke the ice against Wellington goaltender Jordan Ruby, who stood on his head in the opening frame to keep the Dukes in the game.
Patrick McGillis and David Robinson also scored for the Vipers, who are the first team to ever earn a chance for three straight national titles - the 1992 Vernon Lakers lost in the semifinals and the 1983 Prince Albert Raiders failed to get out of the SJHL playoffs, ending their run of six straight league championships.
Elliott Richardson scored the lone goal for Wellington, a flip in from centre ice that skipped past Vernon netminder Kirby Halcrow to pull the Dukes to within a goal at 2-1 eight minutes into the third period. Ruby turned in his best performance of the tournament, making 35 saves, but it wasn't enough to keep the Dukes from their second RBC Cup semifinal loss; they lost 3-2 to the Humboldt Broncos in 2003.