The Vernon Vipers last trip to the Royal Bank Cup was in 2014 when they hosted the tournament. In this article, I look back at the tournament for the Vipers and for the four other teams that spent eight days in the Okanagan Valley playing for a national championship.
Carleton Place Canadians (Central Canadian Hockey League)
The Carlton Place Canadians made their first trip to the RBC Cup in 2014. They were among the best teams in junior hockey, going 54-6-2 in 62 games in the regular season. The Canadians’ playoffs started with a sweep of the Kempville 73’s. In the second round, Carleton Place faced off against the Pembroke Lumber Kings, and the series went the distance with the Canadians winning in seven games.
Carleton Place was then in the CCHL final versus the Smiths Falls Bears. They made quick work of the Bears, winning in five games and sending the team to the Fred Page Cup where Carleton Place took on the St. Jerome Panthers of the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League in the final game. The Canadians won 3-1 and booked their ticket to the RBC Cup in Vernon.
Toronto Lakeshore Patriots (Ontario Junior Hockey League)
The Patriots had a record in the regular season of 35-12-3-3, good enough for first place in their division. They opened their postseason with a series against the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. The all Toronto matchup saw the Pats sweep the Canadiens in four games. The second round had Toronto face off against the North York Rangers. Toronto won the series four games to one, sending them to the third round and a date with the Georgetown Raiders.
Toronto breezed through the third round and swept the Raiders to advance to the league finals versus the Aurora Tigers. The Patriots won the series four games to two and booked a ticket to the Dudley Hewitt Cup, where they won against the Wellington Dukes. With the win, the Pats became one of the five teams to compete in the RBC Cup.
Yorkton Terriers (Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League)
Yorkton had a regular season record of 37-12-2-5 for 81 points and good enough for first place in the SJHL. The Terriers opened their postseason with an automatic bye in the first round. Their second round match up was against the Notre Dame Hounds and won the series four games to one.
The third round had Yorkton playing the Humboldt Broncos, and it was a fairly straightforward series for the Terriers, winning four games to one. The finals had Yorkton play Melville and it was an easy series as the Terriers swept the Mills. With the win, Yorkton secured a spot in the Western Canada Cup in Dauphin, Manitoba. At the WCC, Yorkton went all the way to the final game, beat the host Dauphin Kings 5-4, and earned a berth into the RBC Cup.
Dauphin Kings (Manitoba Junior Hockey League)
The Kings posted a regular-season record of 40-17-3, good for third in the MJHL. Dauphin had an automatic bye into the first round of the playoffs as one of the top teams in the league. The second round had the Kings play the OCN Blizzard. It was a short series for the Kings as they swept the Blizzard four games to one.
The third round match up had Dauphin face the Virden Oil Capitals, with the Kings again sweeping their opponent. The league finals were set between Dauphin and Winnipeg and the Blues beat the Kings four games to one. The Kings were able to continue in the postseason since they were the hosts of the WCC. Dauphin earned a spot in the RBC Cup by playing in the final game, which it lost to the Yorkton Terriers.
Vernon Vipers (British Columbia Hockey League)
The Vipers got to play in the RBC Cup as the host team. They had a regular-season record of 30-18-4-6, which was good for third place in the division. The Snakes began their postseason with a matchup against the West Kelowna Warriors. Vernon won the series in six games and got a second-round series with the Penticton Vees. The series went the distance, but the Vipers prevailed, beating the Vees in seven games.
The third round was a round-robin tournament between the top three division winners as Vernon played Coquitlam and Victoria. The top two teams then played each other in the BCHL final. Vernon won the round-robin and took on the Express in the finals. Vernon got swept by the Express and Coquitlam went on to the WCC.
RBC Cup round-robin
The round-robin tournament started on May 10 with one game between Dauphin and Toronto. The Kings won the game off of a late goal from Jesse Bernard.
Day two saw the hosts take to the ice for the first time versus the Carleton Place Canadians. The Vipers had a 1-0 lead heading into the third period on a shorthanded goal from Colton Sparrow. The Canadians scored three and Vernon one to give Carlton Place its first ever win at the RBC Cup.
The second game of the day had Toronto play its second game of the tournament against the Yorkton Terriers. Yorkton scored first but Toronto tallied five unanswered to win 5-1 and give the team their first-ever victory at the national championship.
Day three had just one game, the Carleton Place Canadians against the Dauphin Kings. The game was close as both teams couldn’t solve the goalies in regulation. The game went into overtime and Dauphin’s Brent Wold scored to keep the Kings undefeated at the RBC Cup. Carleton Place’s record was now 1-1.
The fourth day of the RBC Cup had Vernon play in its second game of the tournament versus the Terriers. Sparrow opened the scoring to give the hosts a 1-0 lead heading into the second period. In the middle frame, Vernon scored three goals in 41 seconds to take a commanding 4-0 lead. They added one more and then Yorkton scored to make it 5-1.
The third was a back and forth affair, as the Terriers clawed back to within a goal before Sparrow completed the hat trick and give Vernon its first win of the tournament. Game two of the day had Carleton Place and Toronto face off and the Canadians doubled the Patriots 4-2.
The fifth day had the undefeated Dauphin Kings take on the host Vipers. Dauphin had a 4-0 lead going into the third and wouldn’t relinquish it. The Kings won 5-2 over Vernon and clinched the top seed in the RBC Cup round-robin.
The late-game had Yorkton and Carleton Place face off. Despite losing to in their last game against Vernon, Yorkton continued its strong play and beat the Canadians 3-1. With the win, Yorkton put itself in a three-way battle with Vernon and Toronto for a spot the semi-finals.
The round-robin was coming to a close and each game had massive implications for the semi-finals. The lone game on the schedule had Dauphin meet Yorkton. It was do or die for Yorkton because if the Terriers won, they’d play in the semis, but if they lost and they’d be done at the RBC Cup.
Dauphin had already secured a spot in the semi-finals as the top team. The Terriers trailed 1-0 heading into the third period, but Tyler Giebel tied the game to send it to overtime. In OT, Yorkton’s Derek Falloon scored to send the Terriers to the semi-finals.
Vipers win in OT, in semi's: The Vernon Vipers gained the final spot in Saturday's RBC Cup semi-finals in… http://t.co/zf10XaAn57
— Canada Sports NW (@CA_NW_Sports) May 16, 2014
The final day of the round-robin had Vernon against Toronto. Whoever won would play in the RBC Cup semi-finals, the loser would be out of the tournament. The game was tied 2-2 and needed overtime to determine a winner. In overtime with Toronto’s Kevin Shier in the penalty box, Vernon’s Dexter Dancs scored on the power play to send the Vipers to the semi-finals.
The teams heading into the semi-finals were Dauphin, Vernon, Yorkton, and Carleton Place. Dauphin played Carleton and Yorkton faced Vernon.
RBC Cup semi-finals
Vernon took on the Yorkton Terriers in the first semi-final game. After the first, Yorkton led the Vipers 2-1. After two, the Terriers had a 4-3 lead as Vernon clawed back with goals from Michael McNicholas and Dancs.
The third saw the Terriers score twice to win 6-3 and end the hopes of a seventh championship for the Vernon Vipers. Instead, Yorkton would play in their first championship final.
In the other semi-final, it was Carleton Place against Dauphin. The Kings had a 2-1 lead heading into the second and then scored a shorthanded goal from Tanner Butler.
After two periods, the score was tied at three and in the third, the Canadians scored two more to win 5-3. The victory sent Carleton Place to its first-ever RBC Cup Final.
RBC Cup final
The final consisted of two first time finalists in Yorkton and Carleton Place. The first period was square at 1-1, with the Canadians holding the edge in shots 10-7. The second had the Canadians up 3-1 and with 20 minutes to go, try to play a shutdown game and hold onto the lead.
Yorkton, as it had done all tournament. clawed back one goal at a time, to tie the game after three periods.
Overtime was needed to decide a winner, and at the 15-minute mark, the biggest goal in Terriers’ history was scored by Derek Falloon. Yorkton had won its first-ever RBC Cup.
Since 2014, only Carleton Place has returned to play at the national championship. They made it back a year later in 2015 and lost in the final to the Portage Terriers of the MJHL.