Thursday, March 31, 2011
Fred Page Cup Final: Preview:
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - Submitted by BCHL MEDIA
Sahir Gill’s late-third-period, series-clinching goal in Game 7 of last year’s Fred Page Cup final has been something that the Powell River Kings have been thinking about all season long, replaying it in their minds. With just five minutes to go in the game, Gill received a pass from Connor Jones that deflected off his skate and into the net to put the Vipers up 2-1. Vernon would add an empty netter and skate to a second straight Fred Page Cup title, but as these teams meet for a third consecutive year, Powell River and its 11 returning players are poised to stop the three-peat.
“Experience does count for a lot and this is exactly what our guys wanted,” said Kings coach Kent Lewis. “We worked hard last year, didn’t get the bounces; next thing you know, they got the shin pad then the skate and it’s in the net. It’s something that’s been in our guys’ heads all summer.”
Although the Kings have 11 coming back, the Vipers have plenty of experience as well with seven veteran players back from last year’s RBC Cup run.
“Certainly we feel like it’s going to help, having guys that have been in this situation before,” says Vernon Vipers head coach Mark Ferner. “We knew right from day one we would need everyone on our team to come together to make it here again and both our veterans and young guys have been great down the stretch.”
Powell River and Vernon only met twice during the regular season with both teams coming away with victories on home ice. For two teams that seem so evenly matched heading into the final, could home-ice advantage be the deal breaker?
“It’s always important but it’s not as crucial as many might think,” says Lewis. “We’ve been good on the road this year and both teams are seasoned enough that wherever they play, anyone can get a win.”
It’s something that Ferner agrees with.
“We played them early in the season in their building and they beat us 5-2. I don’t think that we played our best, but in Powell River, it’s never an easy building to play in,” conceded the Vipers bench boss. “We came back and edged them out at home 3-2 and it was good to get that win; it gave us a lot of confidence. This is a great team we’re playing; they have a tremendous amount of talent in their organization.”
The main question heading into the finals is what will be the difference this year? These teams know each other well and sometimes it might come down to a lucky bounce.
“The last two seasons, both finals could have gone either way, there’s not a lot of difference in these teams to be quite honest,” says Ferner. “We don’t know what the difference will be; we just have to play our best and try not to give up a lot of chances.”
As for Lewis, he knows his guys will be determined to erase the memories of last year’s heart breaking loss.
“We just have to play our game. We have a really relaxed and mature group and we haven’t played our best hockey yet and there’s no time but now to start.”
Will third time be the charm for Powell River? Or will Vernon win a third consecutive Fred Page Cup? One thing for certain is that this installment of the Fred Page Cup Finals will be yet another great display of top class junior “A” hockey.