DAUPHIN, Man. – The Vernon Vipers have won the 2010 RBC Cup as national Junior A champions, becoming the first team since the Vernon Lakers in 1990-91 to win back-to-back national championships. The Vipers earned their sixth title all-time with an 8-1 victory over the Dauphin Kings in Sunday’s championship game.
Dylan Walchuk, Kellen Jones and Cole Ikkala scored goals in a span of 48 seconds early in the second period, turning a 1-0 Vernon lead into a 4-0 advantage as the Vipers defended the title they won in Victoria, B.C. one year ago. Thirteen players from that team returned for this season.
The first period was all Vipers, as they peppered Kings netminder Joe Caligiuri with 16 shots in the opening 20 minutes, but the only goal they could muster came off the stick of Cory Kane, who snapped a shot past the glove of Caligiuri at 14:28.
The tournament hosts tried valiantly to tie the game early in the second period, but both Steven Shamanski and Shane Luke were turned away point-blank by Vernon goaltender Graeme Gordon, who stood tall when it mattered – allowing only one goal in two playoff-round games.
Walchuk got the three-goal spurt started at 6:28, beating Caligiuri off the left wing on a two-on-one, Jones made it 3-0 at 7:07, batting a puck out of mid-air, and Ikkala pushed the lead to four at 7:16, scoring on another two-on-one, this time off the right wing.
Bryce Lamb ended Gordon’s bid for his second consecutive shutout with a power play goal for the Kings midway through the middle frame, but Patrick McGillis tapped home a Walchuk rebound before the horn sounded to restore Vernon’s four-goal lead after 40 minutes.
With the result all but decided, the Vipers added three more goals in the third period – Sahir Gill made it 6-1 before Jones and Garrett Noonan rounded out the scoring with power play markers in the final six-and-a-half minutes.
Vernon added the 2010 crown to titles won in 1990, 1991, 1996, 19, putting it two ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders (1977, 1979, 1981, 1982), who are the only other team to win at least four. Dauphin was making its National Junior A Championship debut and won the MJHL and ANAVET Cup titles to become the first RBC Cup host team since Halifax 2002 to win league and regional championships. Despite Sunday’s loss, the Kings were a remarkable 43-3-1 on home ice this season.
The 2011 RBC Cup will be held in May 2011 in Camrose, Alta., with the Camrose Kodiaks serving as the host team.
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