The Vernon Vipers open the Doyle Cup Friday night against the Alberta champion Spruce Grove Saints.
The Saints won the AJHL Enerflex Cup Tuesday night with a 6-0 victory over the visiting Fort McMurray Oil Barons in Game 7 before a sold-out crowd of 1,650 at the Grant Fuhr Arena.
Game two in the regional best-of-seven Doyle Cup also goes Saturday night in Spruce Grove. If the teams split the opening games, the third game will go Sunday in the Edmonton suburb. Vernon hosts the remainder of the series, starting either Tuesday or Wednesday. The winner advances to the Royal Bank Cup national Junior A hockey tournament, May 1-10, in Dauphin, Man.
This is the first AJHL championship for the Spruce Grove Saints. The Spruce Grove Mets won league titles in 1975 and 1976; the St. Albert Saints captured the AJHL crown in 1981, 1982, 1996 and 1998.
The Saints went 52-4-1-3 to earn the No. ranking in the Canadian Junior A Hockey League. The Vipers were rated No. 2. at 51-6-0-3.
Hometown hero Brett Cameron scored four goals Tuesday night, while Whitehorse product Adam Henderson pocketed 2+2 to lead Spruce Grove. Defenceman Wes McLeod, an all-star who the Saints obtained from the BCHL Prince George Spruce Kings at the Jan. 10 trading deadline, earned a pair of assists.
Vincenzo Marozzi posted the shutout in Game 7 and recorded all four wins in the series.