CAMROSE, Alta. – The Pembroke Lumber Kings have won the 2011 RBC Cup, Canada’s 41st National Junior A Championship, with a 2-0 victory over the Vernon Vipers on Sunday night at the Edgeworth Centre.
The national championship is the first for the Lumber Kings in six all-time appearances, while the Vipers saw their two-year reign end and came up short in their quest to become the first team to win three consecutive national titles.
Goaltender Francis Dupuis was the story for the Lumber Kings, stopping all 40 shots he faced as Pembroke was outshot 40-23 by the Vipers. Jonathan Milley scored both goals for Pembroke, including the game-winner on a breakaway with 6:21 remaining in the third period.
Dupuis kept the Lumber Kings in a scoreless game in the first period, when the Vipers outshot Pembroke 15-5, and again in the third period when Vernon held a 14-3 advantage. His counterpart in the Vipers’ goal, Kirby Halcrow, stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced, 15 of which came in the second period.
With overtime looming in the championship game for the first time since Olds beat Kelowna in 1994, Milley blocked a shot at the Pembroke blue line and raced in alone on Halcrow, slipping a shot through the pads of the Vernon netminder. He added his second into an empty net with 14.6 seconds remaining, making the Lumber Kings the first East Region representatives to be crowned national champions since the tournament went to its current five-team format in 1990.
Pembroke lost national finals in 1973 (to the Portage Terriers) and 1977 (to the Prince Albert Raiders) during the days of the East vs. West best-of-seven final, and came up short in semifinals in its other three trips – 1987, 19. Vernon missed an opportunity to extend its own record with a seventh national championship, joining titles won in 1990, 1991, 1996, 1999, 20.
Following the championship game, the 2011 RBC Cup tournament all-star team was announced, as selected by the tournament awards committee:
Goaltender – Francis Dupuis (Pembroke Lumber Kings)
Defence – Sam Jardine (Camrose Kodiaks)
Defence – Adam Thompson (Vernon Vipers)
Forward – Jonathan Milley (Pembroke Lumber Kings)
Forward – Matthew Peca (Pembroke Lumber Kings)
Forward – Dylan Walchuk (Vernon Vipers)
The 2012 RBC Cup will be held in May 2012 in Humboldt, Sask., with the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League serving as the host team.