Pembroke Lumber Kings 4 - Selkirk Steelers 2
LUMBER KINGS INTO SEMI-FINAL AFTER WIN OVER STEELERS
The Pembroke Lumber Kings have grabbed the last semi-final spot at the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup after a 4-2 win over the Selkirk Steelers on Thursday night at CN Centre.
The win means the Lumber Kings, who finished the round robin at 2-2, will face the first place Aurora Tigers in the first semi-final, at 2:00 p.m. PT on Saturday afternoon.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Lumber Kings got on the board quickly in the second period as Chris Laganiere stormed down the right wing and snapped a shot that beat Steelers goaltender Andrew Leslie on the far side, giving his team a 1-0 lead.
The lead became 2-0 just 74 seconds later, as Owen Kelly blasted a shot from the top of the face-off circle that beat Leslie over the left shoulder.
The Steelers cut the lead to one just past the six-minute mark of the period, as captain Andrew Fernandez took a pass from Brent Howarth and fired a shot past Lumber Kings goaltender Paul Beckwith on a 4-on-3 powerplay for the West Region champions.
Jeremy Gates restored the two-goal Pembroke lead later in the frame, capitalizing on a rebound after Leslie could not control Anthony Ventura’s point shot, giving the Lumber Kings a 3-1 lead.
Brent Howarth halved the lead near the end of a wild second period, his shot beating Beckwith to make it a 3-2 game after 40 minutes, but Ben Reinhardt would score into an empty net in the final minute of the game, sending the West Region champions home from the National Junior A Championship winless.
Beckwith made 31 saves in the Lumber Kings’ goal, while Leslie turned aside 22 shots for the Steelers, albeit in a losing cause.
Fernandez picked up Player of the Game honours for the Steelers, while the Lumber Kings’ recipient was Eric Selleck.
LUMBER KINGS, STEELERS MEET WITH SEMI-FINAL SPOT ON THE LINE
It all comes down to one game for the Pembroke Lumber Kings and Selkirk Steelers on Thursday at CN Centre in Prince George, BC. Win, and a semi-final spot on Saturday is assured. Lose, and the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup is finished.
The Lumber Kings have been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team at this year’s National Junior A Championship, dropping a lackluster 5-2 decision to the host Prince George Spruce Kings, who were coming off seven-and-a-half weeks of inactivity, in the opening game on Saturday night, but rebounding to top the number one-ranked Aurora Tigers 5-3 on Monday.
The East Region champions will need to regain the offensive touch that saw them score five times against a very good Aurora team. The Lumber Kings became the first team to be shutout at the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup on Wednesday afternoon, and have scored just seven times in the tournament – with one of those an empty net goal against the Tigers.
Selkirk enters their final round robin game as the only winless team remaining at the tournament, but deserved a better fate against the Prince George Spruce Kings on Wednesday night. Spruce Kings goaltender Jordan White turned back wave after wave of Steelers offense in the first 40 minutes, giving his team the chance to win in the third period.
While the Lumber Kings are struggling offensively, the West Region champions are in a goal-scoring slump, having scored just four goals in their three games at the National Junior A Championship, and only two of those have come at five-on-five. If the Steelers cannot score at even strength, they will be in tough to play on the weekend.
It has come down to one game, winner take all. Twice in the last 10 years the fourth place team from the round robin has gone on to claim the national championship, so it is not unheard of for a team to win just one of four games in the round robin and still be crowned national Junior A champion. But first a team must qualify for the semi-final, and after Thursday either the Lumber Kings or the Steelers will see their RBC Royal Bank Cup hopes dashed.