The 2014 Royal Bank Cup roster is now confirmed.
The host Vernon Vipers will open the national Junior A hockey tournament Saturday night at Kal Tire Place against the Eastern champion Carleton Place Canadians of Ottawa.
The Canadians enjoyed a record-setting season with 54 wins and 110 points and took the Fred Page Cup Sunday with a 3-1 win over the host St. Jerome Panthers. The Canadians were unbeaten in the tourney.
“All six of their defencemen are really good, they are well coached and they work hard,” said former Viper head coach Bernie Pimm, who works for Kal Tire in Ottawa.
The Canadians ousted the Smith Falls Bears in five games to win the Bogart Cup as Central Canada Hockey League Champions.
The Dauphin Kings of Manitoba earned their RBC berth with a 4-3 comeback victory over the Spruce Grove Saints Sunday night at the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup in Dauphin.
Dauphin opens the RBC Saturday afternoon against the Central champion Toronto Lakeshore Patriots. Toronto claimed the Dudley Hewitt Cup by clipping the Wellington Dukes 2-1. The Dukes had earlier stopped the Pats 5-3 in the round-robin.
Spruce Grove made the RBC qualifying game by derailing the BCHL champion Coquitlam Express 5-3 Saturday afternoon.
The Yorkton Terriers were the first team through to the RBC Cup after they beat Dauphin 5-4 Saturday night in the Western Canada Cup championship game at Credit Union Place.
Yorkton gets a bye Saturday and play Toronto Sunday afternoon. The Vipers are off Sunday before taking on Yorkton Monday night.
Viper head coach/GM Jason Williamson was in Dauphin for the final elimination games.
“They are two hard-working teams, pretty strong clubs,” said Williamson, of Yorkton and Dauphin. “The hosts (Dauphin) looked very structured, they competed hard. I thought they handled adversity well with their goalie situation.”
Dauphin starting netminder Jordan Piccolino was hurt in the first period following a collision in their win over Spruce Grove. In came 16-year- old Troy Martyniuk, who stopped 24 of 26 shots.
On how the Vipers compare to the Terriers and Kings, Williamson said: “It’s tough to tell because your team isn’t out there, we were just watching. We are going to have to be at the top of our game.Everyone is here for a reason. We need to prepare to be at our best.”
The Vipers practise today from 11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m. and hold their awards night at the Best Western Lodge Hotel. They skate Thursday and Friday at 9 a.m. (team photo being taken Friday).
“It’s a case of just getting through this next week,” added Williamson. “I’d say nervous excitement more than anxious to get it started.”
Yorkton is making their fifth appearance in the RBC/Centennial Cup. The Vipers won the Cup in three of the Terriers’ three tournament showings (1991 in Sudbury, 1996 in Melfort, Sask. and 1999 in Yorkton.)
The Terriers lost the 2006 RBC Cup final 8-2 to Kyle Turris and the Burnaby Express in Brampton.
“Yorkton’s gonna be a challenge,” said Coquitlam Express assistant coach Rob Boyd, formerly of Vernon. “They’re probably going to bring three busloads of fans with them. It was a home game for them in Dauphin. They’ve got some firepower. Brent Boehm, who scored nine goals in the tournament, is a tall skinny kid with unreal hands. He gets it done everywhere.
“They have a couple of defencemen (Chase Norrish, league MVP and Devon McMullen) who are small, but strong and mobile and they move the puck well.”
Boyd, who said the Express hit a wall after winning their first two games, also said ex-Viper Riley Hunt gets loads of ice time with the Terriers.