There will be twice the B.C. content at the National Junior A Championship in Victoria.
With the host Grizzlies already in, the Vernon Vipers became the first team to qualify on Wednesday night, sweeping the best-of-seven Doyle Cup with a 5-2 win over the Grande Prairie Storm in Alberta.
This year’s RBC Cup marks the first time since 2001 (Weyburn and Flin Flon, SJHL) that two teams from the same league will compete in the same national championship.
After scoring 2-1 and 6-2 wins on home ice, the series shifted to the Canada Games Arena in Grande Prairie, where the Vipers finished off the sweep with 2-1 and 5-2 victories, advancing to their record seventh national championship; they had been tied with Weyburn for the all-time record.
Vernon will hit the ice in Victoria in search of its fifth national title, which would break a tie with Prince Albert for the most championships in Canadian Junior A history. The Vipers previously won titles in 1990, 1991 (both as the Lakers), 1996 and 1999.
Connor Jones, the Vipers’ leading scorer in the regular season and the playoffs, racked up a hat trick in the clinching Game 4 win and finished with a series-leading 10 points in four games. Two of his Game 4 goals were set up by his twin brother Kellen, who averaged a point-a-game during the Doyle Cup.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)