VICTORIA, B.C. – The Drive for Five is complete – the Vernon Vipers are Canada’s first five-time national Junior A champions after a 2-0 win over the Humboldt Broncos in Sunday’s championship game at Bear Mountain Arena.
Braden Pimm and Kyle Bigos scored the goals for the Vipers, who ran undefeated through this year’s National Junior A Championship, going 6-0 while outscoring the opposition 32-15. Andrew Hammond posted his first shutout of the tournament, turning aside all 27 shots he faced.
Vernon’s win moves them past the Prince Albert Raiders as the winningest Junior A team in Canadian history, with five national championship. The 2009 championship joins 1990, 1991, 19 titles for the B.C. team. The Raiders were national champions in 1977, 1979, 19.
After a convincing semifinal win over the Kingston Voyageurs on Friday the Vipers found themselves in a fight on Sunday, scoreless with the Broncos through 20 minutes. Despite losing captain Steve Crowell and top-six forward Ryan Santana – both to checking-from-behind penalties – Vernon took the lead when Pimm crashed the net and popped the puck over Humboldt netminder Mathieu LaRochelle.
Bigos made it 2-0 late in the third, dancing around three Broncos before sliding the puck past LaRochelle for the insurance marker. Bigos was the big winner at Saturday night’s awards banquet, taking home Top Defenceman and Most Valuable Player honours.
Hammond was at his best in the second period, turning aside 13 Humboldt shots as the Broncos swarmed the net for much of the period, looking for the all-important first goal. He became the second goaltender in as many years to post a shutout in the championship game – Humboldt’s Taylor Nelson blanked Camrose 1-0 at the 2008 RBC Cup in Cornwall, Ont.
Humboldt failed in its bid to become the first team since the Vernon Lakers in 19 to win back-to-back National Junior A Championships. Despite the loss, the Broncos have appeared in the national championship game in three of the last seven tournaments, winning national titles in 20.
The 2010 RBC Cup will be held in May 2010 in Dauphin, Man., with the Dauphin Kings serving as the host team.