The Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League are the 2003 Royal Bank Cup champions.
The Broncos defeated the Camrose Kodiaks 3-1 on Sunday afternoon in Charlottetown, PE in a defense-minded game to win their first national championship.
“Goaltending and our defense were the difference, if it wasn't for our defensive-mindedness at the end I don't think we would have gone out with a win,” said Humboldt captain Matt Brown, who scored twice in the championship game.
Both Brown and Humboldt goaltender Sean Connors played their last junior hockey game on Sunday, and made sure their last memory would be hoisting the Royal Bank Cup.
"I came into the game with the attitude that I knew it was going to be my last game no matter what happened,” Brown said, “so I was pushing extra hard to get up there and help my team.”
Connors described it as the best feeling he has had in sports.
“This is unbelievable, I can't even describe this feeling, I've been playing junior hockey for five years and to wrap it up like this…it doesn't get any better.”
A hard-hitting first period saw its first chance about five minutes in when Camrose's Scott Stewart directed a backhand shot at Connors from four feet out, a shot easily turned away by the Humboldt netminder.
Moments later it was the Broncos who hit the scoreboard first, as Brown elected to shoot on a two-on-one. Kodiak goalie Mike Brodeur made the initial save but gave up a rebound, which Brown buried for an early 1-0 lead.
It was 2-0 ten minutes later, as Kris Kasper blasted a shot from the point that eluded Brodeur.
Momentum was with the Broncos until the final minutes of the opening period, when Bronco defenseman Rick Freese was called for hooking, giving the Kodiaks a chance to cut the Humboldt lead to one, which is exactly what they did.
Matt McKnight did the honours for Camrose, outwaiting Connors and pulling the Pacific Region champions to within a goal heading into the intermission.
The goaltenders took over after McKnight's goal, as neither would allow another shot to beat them in the final 41 minutes.
Despite being the more desperate team in the game's dying minutes, the Kodiaks found themselves on the defensive side of the puck, unable to mount an offensive charge.
The final push came in the final minute, with Camrose on the powerplay and Brodeur on the bench for an extra attacker, giving the Kodiaks a six-on-four advantage.
Unfortauntely for Camrose, it was Brown who would find the back of the net, scoring a shorthanded goal into an empty net with only one second left on the clock, clinching Humboldt's win and national title.
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