Kings fight for glory

JEFF HENSON, For QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

DAUPHIN, Man. — For the first time since the OCN Blizzard did it in 2002, a team from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League will play in the final of the RBC Cup.

That year was also the last time a host team (Halifax Oland Exports) went undefeated throughout the tournament to win the National Junior A Hockey championship.

Could that fate be lying ahead of the Dauphin Kings Sunday afternoon?

The Manitoba and ANAVET Cup champs picked up their sixth straight win over the Saskatchewan champs from La Ronge, beating them 6-2 to set up a date with the defending champs from Vernon for all the marbles.

“We are on cloud nine to face them,” said Kings coach Marlin Murray. “We’ve been hearing all year that they are likely the best team in Canada. They’re a high-octane team that has likely the best depth in the tournament. But we feel we have an X-factor playing on our ice with our fans.”

“Coming in to the year we knew we would be (at the RBC Cup) and have a chance to get (to the final), and now that we are there it’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Kings captain and player of the game Steven Shamanski. “We’ve been together now for almost 90 games, so we’re a tight knit group and to be able to do this with these guys is a great accomplishment.”

The Kings opened the scoring halfway through the first, as Bryce Lamb took a Shamanski pass and wristed it over the right shoulder of La Ronge netminder Joel Danyluk.

They would add to the lead with a pair of unassisted goals in the second. First, a Kings clearing attempt went off the glove of Ice Wolves defender Mike Alexander right to Angus Klassen, who scored on the subsequent breakaway.

“It felt really good to get a bit of revenge,” said Klassen, who was knocked out of Tuesday’s round robin game after being hit from behind into the end boards by the Ice Wolves’ Colton McPherson.

Then Shamanski kept a clearing attempt in at the point, and skated in before beating Danyluk between the legs to make it 3-0.

La Ronge would get back into it with a pair of late second period goals from Aaron Enns and Ben Findlay, and would carry that pressure into the opening minutes of the third period.

But Zeanan Ziemer, who many feel is one of the most talented players in this year’s tournament, put a dagger into the hearts of the Saskatchewan champs six and a half minutes into the final frame. A point shot from Dallas Drysdale went wide of the goal and bounced back through the crease to the Brandon native, who restored the Kings’ two goal lead and sent the sold out crowd of 2,212 into delirium.

“(Ziemer) likely gets over looked a lot because of the depth we have,” according to Murray. “But he can arguably be the best player in the league. He likes to control the puck and he is a game breaker, and I thought (Saturday) he was excellent.”

Mitch Czibere would stretch the lead to three on a power play halfway through the period, as his backhand shot from the right circle would elude Danyluk, who looked to still be feeling the effects of a knee injury suffered last Sunday.

That goal seemed to take a lot of wind out of the Ice Wolves, who pulled Danyluk for an extra attacker during a late period powerplay, only to see Shamanski ice it with a short handed empty netter with 1:14 remaining.

The Kings will try to seek the first national title for an MJHL team since 1974, when the Selkirk Steelers laid claim to the Centennial Cup.

The championship final starts at 2 p.m. and can be seen on TSN2.


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