Prince George Spruce Kings 3 - Camrose Kodiaks 2
SPRUCE KINGS WIN FIVE-OVERTIME THRILLER, HEAD TO CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
The game may have started on Saturday night, but Jason Yuel got Championship Sunday off to a great start for the Prince George Spruce Kings, scoring the game-winning goal in the fifth overtime of the Spruce Kings’ 3-2 win over the Camrose Kodiaks.
Yuel’s goal came at 1:01 a.m. local time – the 6:01 mark of overtime period number five – and sends the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup hosts to the championship game of the National Junior A Championship on Sunday night against the Aurora Tigers.
“This is why we’re here, to play for the national championship, and we’re going to do that tomorrow,” said Spruce Kings head coach Ed Dempsey following the dramatic win. “I’m real proud of the way we kept at it tonight.”
Prince George goaltender Jordan White was spectacular between the pipes for the Spruce Kings, turning aside a remarkable 91 shots, as the Kodiaks outshot the tournament hosts 93-77 overall. Not surprisingly, he was named Player of the Game for the Spruce Kings.
Just as they did in their round robin match-up on Sunday night, the Spruce Kings jumped out to a 2-0 lead, only to see the Kodiaks come back.
Alain Joanette got Prince George on the board first, snapping a shot past Kodiaks goaltender Allen York almost 15 minutes into the opening period, and Vinny Muchalla got his first of the tournament three minutes into the middle frame on a controversial goal, putting the Spruce Kings up by a pair halfway through the game.
Joe Colborne got the Pacific Region champions to within one just past the midway point of the second period, finishing off a beautiful set-up from linemates Scott Kobialko and Mike Connolly on a Camrose powerplay.
After being held at bay by the Spruce Kings’ defense for more than 18 minutes in the third period, Jesse Todd undressed a Prince George defender and slipped the puck past White, pulling the Kodiaks even with just 1:51 to go.
The first four overtimes featured numerous chances at each end, including a season-saving glove save by White off a Connolly breakaway midway through the first extra period, and a number of pucks swept away from the Camrose crease.
With Owen Chatwin off for hooking early in the fifth overtime Yuel redirected a centering pass from Tyler Helfrich past York, ending the longest game in RBC Royal Bank Cup history.
The previous longest game had been a 2005 semi-final between the Weyburn Red Wings and Hawkesbury Hawks, which ended at the 16:54 mark of the third overtime period.
In what could be a good sign for the Spruce Kings, the Red Wings were the tournament hosts, won the marathon semi-final, and took home the national championship with a win the following day over the Kodiaks.
Despite taking the loss, York was fantastic between the pipes for Camrose, making 74 saves. Like his Prince George counterpart White, York was named his team’s Player of the Game.
SPRUCE KINGS, KODIAKS MEET IN ALL-PACIFIC BATTLE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SPOT
Seven-and-a-half weeks of waiting, 52 days of practices and four round robin games comes down to one game for the host Prince George Spruce Kings when they meet the Camrose Kodiaks in a semi-final at the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup on Saturday night at CN Centre.
The Pacific Region champions got the upper hand in their round robin meeting with the Spruce Kings, fighting back from a 2-0 second period deficit to pick up a 4-2 win on Sunday night. The Kodiaks showcased their offensive depth in the win, as eight different players registered a point.
Prince George head coach/general manager Ed Dempsey’s trade deadline acquisitions continue to impress, as Alain Joanette and Tyler Helfrich led the Spruce Kings in scoring in the round robin with six and five points, respectively. But Prince George will need scoring from elsewhere if they want to knock off the defensively-strong Kodiaks.
The Spruce Kings’ 12 goals were better than only Pembroke (11) and Selkirk (6) in the preliminary round,
and Jordan Inglis was the only player other then Joanette and Helfrich to record more than two points – and
four of his five came in the tournament-opening win against Pembroke.
Even with the seven goals against in their loss to the Tigers, the Kodiaks led the round robin with just 10 goals allowed in four games. Allen York, who had a tournament-leading 1.00 goals against average in the round robin, will be back between the pipes for Camrose after giving way to Keanan Boomer for the Aurora game, and will play a major role in the Kodiaks’ quest for a national championship.
The Kodiaks are one win away from their fourth national championship game appearance in seven years – a remarkable achievement considering how many Junior A teams begin the season on a quest for the RBC Royal Bank Cup – while the Spruce Kings are looking for their first appearance ever. If the round robin game is any indication, fans at CN Centre should be in for an exciting finish on Saturday night.