DAUPHIN, Man. – You’ve got to be good to be lucky, and lucky to be good.
The old saying rang true on Tuesday afternoon for the Vernon Vipers, as they ended the national title hopes of the Oakville Blades with a 5-3 win at the 2010 RBC Cup, clinching a spot in Saturday’s semifinals in the process.
Curtis Gedig notched the game winner for the Vipers (2-1), throwing the puck into the Oakville zone from his side of centre, only to see it hit a partition on the glass and ricochet past Blades netminder Daniel Savelli to give the Vipers a 4-1 second-period lead.
The Blades (0-3) pushed in the final period, pulling to within one after goals from Ryan Murphy and Mark McGowan, but Jonathan Milhouse’s empty-netter with 18 seconds to go sealed the deal for the Pacific Region champions.
The loss means Oakville will not take part in Saturday’s semifinals, marking the second time in as many RBC Cup appearances that the Blades missed out on the final four – they went 1-3 in 2008, missing out on fourth place thanks to a tiebreaker.
Sahir Gill opened the scoring for Vernon at the 14:32 mark – a point shot from Gedig banked off his skate and past a surprised Savelli – and helped set up Dan Nycholat for the 2-0 goal on a Vernon power play just 1:43 later.
Cole Ikkala got it to 3-0 early in the second period, but Oakville captain Michael Ingoldsby put the first puck past Vernon goaltender Graeme Gordon just 41 seconds later, cutting the lead back down to two.
With little to play for except pride, the Blades wrap up the preliminary round on Wednesday night against the host Dauphin Kings (7 p.m. CT), while the Vipers take on Brockville in the Wednesday matinee (2 p.m. CT).
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)