PRINCE GEORGE, BC – After a pair of overtime thrillers in the semi-finals on Saturday – including the longest game in RBC Royal Bank Cup history – the championship game is set at the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup.
The Aurora Tigers (Central) and Prince George Spruce Kings (Host) will battle for Canada’s 37th National Junior A Championship on Sunday afternoon at the CN Centre in Prince George after coming out victorious in their respective semi-finals. Aurora needed overtime to top the Pembroke Lumber Kings (East) 3-2 in the early semi-final, while the Spruce Kings knocked off the Camrose Kodiaks (Pacific) 3-2 in the late game in five overtimes.
Neither team has much experience when it comes to the championship game of the RBC Royal Bank Cup.
The Tigers are looking for their second National Junior A Championship, to go along with the 2004 title that they won in Grande Prairie, AB. That year, they knocked off the Kindersley Klippers 7-1 to win Canadian Junior A hockey’s top prize. But that appearance is the lone one for the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League champions.
The Spruce Kings are in the championship game for the first time, in their first-ever appearance at the National Junior A Championship. They will look to be the seventh host team to win the national championship since the event adopted a tournament-style format in 1985.
In their semi-final, the Tigers got the game-winner from tournament Most Valuable Player Daniel Michalsky just over two minutes into overtime to send the Lumber Kings home. Aurora needed a tying powerplay goal late in the second period from Mark Thorburn, and strong goaltending from Tyler Gordon in the final 20 minutes to get to the extra frame, where Michalsky played the hero.
Jason Yuel was the overtime goal scorer for the Spruce Kings, scoring at the 6:01 mark of the fifth overtime to lead the hosts to the championship game. The game was the longest in RBC Royal Bank Cup history, surpassing the 2005 semi-final between Weyburn and Hawkesbury, which ended after 56:54 of extra time. Spruce Kings goaltender Jordan White made a remarkable 91 saves in the win, while Tyler Helfrich had three assists.
The Tigers had the upper hand in the round robin meeting between the two teams, coming away with a 6-3 win on Tuesday night. Despite losing the game, the Spruce Kings gave top-ranked Aurora a run, three times pulling to within a goal but never able to get the equalizer. Prince George held the shots-on-goal advantage in the penalty-filled game, 32-30.
The puck will drop for the gold medal game at 7:30 p.m. PT on Sunday, and can be seen on TSN/RDS, the official broadcaster of Hockey Canada at 8:00 p.m. PT/11:00 p.m. ET.