Blazers eliminate Vipers in OT

Jason Simmonds
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In semifinals of Eastern Canadian junior B hockey championship

PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. – The Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers’ season came to a heart-breaking end Saturday night.

Defenceman Logan Garnhum is one of four graduating players with the Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers.

Andrew Skinner’s power-play goal 4:08 into the first overtime period lifted the Nova Scotia-champion Sackville Blazers to a 6-5 win over the defending-champion Vipers in a semifinal game at the 2014 Don Johnson Memorial Cup.

“All week long we were searching for our best game,” said Vipers head coach Wade Waddell. “When I look back on this game, which I know I will, I can say we found our game today (Saturday) and left it all out on the ice.

“It didn’t go our way, but when you get to overtime it’s 50/50. I thought we played well, and it was back and forth between the two teams.

“If we played each other 10 times it would probably end up five wins apiece.”

It was a rematch of the 2013 final, which was won by the Vipers in Moncton, N.B.

“For two teams that don’t see each other much, we’ve gotten a pretty good dose of each other over the last couple of years,” said Waddell. “I don’t think that’s going to be the last chapter with Sackville and Kensington. I feel there will be more to come in the future.”

The Don Johnson Memorial Cup was known as the Atlantic junior B hockey championship up until this year, when Ontario joined the provincial champions from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and a host team. Now, the teams are playing for the Eastern Canadian junior B championship.

In Sunday afternoon’s championship game, the Casselman Vikings from Ontario edged Sackville 3-2 in overtime.

 

Two-goal leads

At the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, the Blazers overcame 2-0, 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4 deficits. Kensington led 3-1 after the first period, and the teams went into the second intermission tied 4-4.

Spencer McAllister gave the Vipers a 5-4 lead with 9:24 to go in the third period, but as they did all game the Blazers answered back. Brett Arthur’s second goal of the night with 4:10 to go sent the game to overtime.

Zachary Thomas (1-2), Shane Boudreau and Kyle MacDonald also scored regulation-time goals for the Blazers.

Zen Hamil (2-1), Adam Wight and Jordan Mayhew scored for the Vipers, who also won the 2011 regional title in Montague.

Brett Hogan (2), Morgan Walker (2), McAllister, Josh Bowman, Spencer Montgomery and Ty Price chipped in with assists.

Overall, the Blazers outshot the Vipers 40-34, including a 12-9 advantage in the third period and a 5-1 margin in overtime. Winning goaltender was Jonathan Boutin, and Grant Grady was in goal for the Vipers.

“All week long we were searching for our best game. When I look back on this game, which I know I will, I can say we found our game today (Saturday) and left it all out on the ice. It didn’t go our way, but when you get to overtime it’s 50/50. I thought we played well, and it was back and forth between the two teams. If we played each other 10 times it would probably end up five wins apiece.” Vipers head coach Wade Waddell

 

Graduating players

In a post-game phone interview, Waddell paid tribute to the Vipers’ four graduating players – Hogan, Walker, Jeremy Jollimore and Logan Garnhum.

“Brett Hogan is probably one of the top two players to ever play in the league,” continued Waddell. “Morgan Walker, who we got this year, quietly did a great job on the back end (defence); Jeremy Jollimore is the face of the organization and bleeds Kensington Viper black and red, and Logan Garnhum, another local kid, has been a steady performer with us for four years.

“As soon as it’s over and you walk into the room and see these guys, Logan, Brett, Jolly and Morgan, that’s what hurts the most, knowing these guys aren’t going to be in the dressing room next year.”

 

Message

Waddell said his message to the Vipers following the season-ending loss included how proud the coaching staff is of the team.

“You go through a lot of emotions with a hockey team,” said Waddell. “Especially when you win a championship, there are lots of highs and lows.

“It was hard walking into that room because it is quite emotional for the guys. There are guys in there that love being on this hockey team. It was a tough talk in the room.

“This is going to hurt for a few days and sting, but I told them 10 years from now they’ll be looking back at these years they were with the Vipers and it was the best years of their life. It’s corny to say, but anybody will tell you when you’re 18-, 19-years-old and you’re playing on a hockey team, those are the best years of your life.

“We tried to stress that, but I imagine it’s not something they’re hearing right now because they are pretty down.”

 

Twitter.com/JpsportsJason

 

 

Season In Review

 

Kensington Vipers’ season in review:

Regular season: 25-5-2 (won-lost-overtime/shootout losses) – first place.

Post-season: 11-2 overall – 8-0 in Island Junior Hockey League playoffs and 3-2 at Don Johnson Memorial Cup.

Overall record: 36-7-2.

Championship: Won fifth straight Island Junior Hockey League championship and ninth provincial title in 11 years.

Organizations: Island Junior Hockey League

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, OT, Kensington Ontario Moncton New Brunswick Prince Edward Island Newfoundland and Labrador Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre

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