Prince George Spruce Kings 1 - Aurora Tigers 3
TIGERS WIN 2007 RBC ROYAL BANK CUP
For the second time in four years, the Aurora Tigers are Junior A hockey champions of Canada following a 3-1 win over the host Prince George Spruce Kings in the final of the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup on Sunday night at CN Centre.
Joey Martin, Joey Piccone and Daniel Michalsky scored for the Tigers, who were also crowned national champions in 2004 in Grande Prairie, AB, while Alain Joanette scored the lone goal for the Spruce Kings.
“Our depth is really what allowed us to do this,” Tigers head coach Jerome Dupont said on the ice amid the celebration. “We were able to roll four lines and play our game, and we did it. This is why we play, and we did it”
Coming out strong after their five-overtime thriller against the Camrose Kodiaks in Saturday night’s semi-final, the Spruce Kings had the better chances early but could not get a puck past Aurora goaltender Tyler Gordon.
The Tigers came on strong late in the frame and were rewarded when Martin finished off a two-on-one with Michael Dahlinger, firing the puck past a sprawling Jordan White.
Prince George came out strong again in the middle frame, but still could not beat Gordon, who kept his team in front with a solid performance between the pipes.
Piccone pushed the lead to two late in the period, his shot from just inside the blueline deflecting off the skate of Spruce Kings defenseman Ryan deVries and bouncing before beating White.
Down by a pair heading to the final 20 minutes the tournament hosts could not manage to get a puck behind Gordon and lost defenseman Clay Goodall early in the period to a hit from behind penalty and a game misconduct.
The Central Region champions capitalized with the man advantage, as Michalsky scored his tournament-best ninth goal to all but end the National Junior A Championship hopes of the Spruce Kings.
Joanette got Prince George on the board with five minutes to go, giving the 3,303 fans in attendance something to cheer about, but it was not to be for the Spruce Kings.
As the clock ran out the Tigers mobbed Gordon, who finally won a national championship in his third appearance in four years – one at the 2004 National Midget Championship, and another at last year’s RBC Royal Bank Cup.
The Michalsky-Martin-Dahlinger line was the best for the Tigers, accounting for six points – a goal and assist each for Martin and Michalsky, and a pair of helpers for Dahlinger.
Martin was named Player of the Game for the Tigers, while 15-year-old Ryan Howse, who played his best game of the tournament for his hometown team, was honoured for the Spruce Kings.
SPRUCE KINGS, TIGERS MEET WITH RBC ROYAL BANK CUP ON THE LINE
Two teams, one game, one prize: the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup.
The Prince George Spruce Kings and Aurora Tigers are the last two teams standing at this year’s National Junior A Championship, and one will leave CN Centre in Prince George on Sunday night as Canadian Junior A hockey champions.
The Central Region champions held the upper hand in the round robin match-up between the two teams, coming away with a 6-3 victory. But a pair of goals in the final nine minutes made the scoreline more flattering for the Tigers, who three times had their lead cut to a single goal by the Spruce Kings.
The 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup hosts enter the game riding the momentum of arguably the biggest win in the team’s 35-year history on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Jason Yuel’s goal at the 6:01 mark of the fifth overtime – at 1:01 a.m. local time – ended the longest game in RBC Royal Bank Cup history and gave the Spruce Kings a 3-2 win over the Camrose Kodiaks.
Will Prince George be running on adrenaline and continue their remarkable run? Or will the six-hour marathon favour the Tigers, who needed just two minutes of overtime to dispatch the Pembroke Lumber Kings in their semi-final?
Spruce Kings goaltender Jordan White turned in what might have been the greatest goaltending performance in National Junior A Championship history, turning aside 91 shots in the victory on Saturday night. How will he stand up to having to play again just 18-and-a-half hours later, against the top-ranked team in the country?
Daniel Michalsky proved why he was a popular choice as Tournament MVP and Top Forward at the awards banquet on Friday night, scoring the overtime winner – his eighth goal of the event – to propel the Tigers to the championship game for the second time in four years.
Aurora has been arguably the best Junior A team in the country this season, going a mind-boggling 77-10-1 since the regular season kicked off back in September. Can they cap it off with a national championship, or will they join the 1997 South Surrey Eagles, 2005 Camrose Kodiaks and a number of other teams who were dominant regular season clubs, only to fall to an upstart host team in the national final?
The two teams are almost dead even in goals against at this tournament (the Spruce Kings hold a slight 15-16 advantage), but the Tigers have the more prolific offense, scoring more than a goal-and-a-half more per game than Prince George (23-15).
Can White and the Spruce Kings slow down the Tigers and take home the franchise’s first National Junior A Championship, or will Michalsky and company score their way to their second title in four years?
Canada will have their answer on Sunday night, so stay tuned.