HUMBOLDT, Sask. – The Penticton Vees have won the 2012 RBC Cup, Canada’s 42nd National Junior A Championship, with a 4-3 victory over the Woodstock Slammers on Sunday night at Elgar Petersen Arena.
The national championship is the second for Penticton, which won the Centennial Cup as the Knights in 1986. The Vees are the third Pacific Region team to win the RBC Cup in the last four years, and are the 10th team from the British Columbia Hockey League to be crowned national champions since the start of the five-team format in 1990.
Joey Benik scored the game-winning goal with 51.3 seconds remaining as the Vees battled back from a 3-2 third-period deficit to win for the 74th time in 86 games this season, including regular season, playoffs and the RBC Cup.
Penticton led 2-0 just 12:18 in on goals from Travis St. Denis and Steven Fogarty, but the Slammers, who knocked off the host Humboldt Broncos in Saturday’s semifinals, staged a comeback from two goals down for the second day in a row.
Bradley Greene got Woodstock on the board just 61 seconds after Fogarty’s goal, Nick Huard tied it eight minutes into the second period on a Slammers power play and Greene’s second goal 90 seconds after the puck dropped to start the third period gave the East region champions their first lead at 3-2.
But the Vees, who trailed in all four of their preliminary round games, tied the game at 11:10 of the third period when Bryce Gervais poked a loose puck past Woodstock goaltender Matt Murphy after Fogarty’s initial shot had hit the post, and went ahead for good when Benik took a pass from St. Denis in the slot and beat Murphy, who got a piece of the puck, but not enough.
St. Denis and Fogarty finished with a goal and an assist each for the Vees, while Mike Reilly and Mario Lucia had two helpers apiece. Huard had a goal and an assist for Woodstock, which got 30 saves from Murphy.
Penticton became the first team since the Vernon Vipers in 1999 to win Canada’s National Junior A Championship after starting the tournament 0-2.
The 2013 RBC Cup will be held in May 2013 in Summerside, P.E.I., with the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Hockey League serving as the host team.