CAMROSE – The longer the game went, the more it seemed like it would take a fortuitous bounce to determine the 2011 Royal Bank Cup national junior A champions Sunday at the Edgeworth Centre in Camrose.
It came in the form of a blocked shot and subsequent breakaway goal by Jonathan Milley as the Pembroke Lumber Kings of Ontario dethroned the two-time defending RBC champion Vernon Vipers with a 2-0 win in the gold-medal game.
After two scoreless periods of end-to-end hockey, Milley, who led tournament scoring with seven goals for nine points in six games, got in the way of Ryan Renz’s point shot and collected the puck at centre ice to go in alone on Kirby Halcrow, beating the Vernon netminder at 13:39 of the third period.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Ottawa native added an empty-netter with 15 seconds to play to seal the Lumber Kings’ first-ever national title. They were the Eastern representatives twice in the Centennial Cup, losing best-of-seven series to the Portage Terriers and Prince Albert Raiders, in 1973 and ’77 respectively.
Sunday was the first time the Vipers have lost when playing in a gold-medal game.
Game MVP netminder Francis Dupuis backstopped the Lumber Kings with just his second shutout of the season, stopping all 40 Viper shots. In particular, he bailed his teammates out with several clutch stops when the Vipers began to surge late in the first period.
Halcrow, who was the busier of the two tenders in the second frame, recorded 22 saves in a fast-flowing game that featured just two minor penalties, both to Pembroke.
Veteran Viper blueliner Adam Thompson, who will skate next season with the Yale Bulldogs, was named Vernon’s Game MVP.
Check out the sports section in Wednesday’s Morning Star for a complete recap of the semifinals and championship game.