Face Sackville Blazers in rematch of last year’s championship game
KENSINGTON – The Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers are back in familiar territory.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Commissioner Jim Chandler, second left, presents the Island Junior Hockey League playoff championship trophy to Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers forward and captain Jeremy Jollimre, centre. Also taking part in the presentation are assistant captains, from left: Spencer Montgomery, Matt Stead and Brett Hogan.
The Vipers, who have won five straight and nine of the last 11 Island Junior Hockey League playoff championships, begin defence of the Don Johnson Memorial Cup in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., on Tuesday. The Vipers open against the Nova Scotia-champion Sackville Blazers at noon.
“The key for us is to secure a playoff position, and after that let the chips fall where they may,” said Vipers head coach Wade Waddell. “We are going over with the intention of winning, there is no question about that.”
Previously known as the Atlantic junior B hockey championship, the Don Johnson Memorial Cup will be awarded to the Eastern Canadian junior B champions on Sunday. Ontario, represented by the Casselman Vikings, will join the provincial champions of P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick (Fredericton), Newfoundland and Labrador (Avalon Capitals) and the host Port Hawkesbury Strait Pirates in the six-team tournament.
Each team will play four round-robin games, with the top four teams advancing to Saturday’s semifinals. The championship game will be played Sunday at 2 p.m.
“The keys to winning don’t change from year to year,” said Waddell. “Going over to a short tournament like this you have to be disciplined.
“Also, going to a different province the refereeing sometimes is not quite what you are used to and you have to make adjustments to that right off the bat. You have to get your rest over there and be prepared to roll with the punches a little bit, because you don’t know what’s going to come at you.”
One advantage the Vipers, who take an 8-0 (won-lost) post-season record into the Don Johnson Memorial Cup, may have over a lot of the teams is experience.
“Last year, just sitting around the stands, the people who ran the committee were saying the Brett Hogan line with Spencer Montgomery and Adam Wight was probably the top line they had seen the last two or three years,” said Waddell. “That line remains intact.
“The key for us is to secure a playoff position, and after that let the chips fall where they may. We are going over with the intention of winning, there is no question about that.” Vipers head coach Wade Waddell
“Grant Grady got the top goaltender (award) last year, and he’s back.
“We are a very veteran team, most of our defence is back. We lost a few key guys from last year like (defenceman) Michael Ramsay, but with winning Don Johnsons and Island titles there are always veterans who have been down the road before.”
Waddell expects Grady and Dylan McQuaid, who rotated games throughout the playoffs, to both see action during the round robin.
“I don’t see us giving one guy the ball because it’s too much in my opinion,” offered Waddell. “It would be different if we didn’t have two quality goaltenders, but we are very fortunate.
“At the end of the playoffs this year, I could have thrown a dart at either one of them and it would have been the right decision. We are happy with our goaltending.
“I see both of them starting (games in) the tournament, and as we get into games if somebody has elevated their game above and beyond they will probably go.”
Kensington Vipers’ schedule at Don Johnson Memorial Cup:
Tuesday, April 22
Noon – vs. Sackville Blazers (N.S.).
Wednesday, April 23
4 p.m. – vs. Avalon Capitals (N.L.).
Thursday, April 24
7:30 p.m. – vs. Port Hawkesbury Strait Pirates (Host).
Friday, April 25
4 p.m. – vs. Fredericton Caps (N.B.)