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Defending champion Vipers, host Kings advance RBC Cup semifinals

NHL.com @NHL

DAUPHIN, Man. - The host Dauphin Kings remained undefeated at the RBC Cup with another win over their West Region rivals.

Shane Luke scored his second goal of the game with just under three minutes left as the Kings edged the La Ronge Ice Wolves 3-2 Tuesday at the Canadian Junior A hockey championship.

The Kings improved to 3-0 and wrapped up first place in the round robin while the Ice Wolves fell to 1-2. Both teams were already assured a spot in Saturday's semifinal after the defending champion Vernon Vipers beat the Oakville Blades earlier Tuesday.

It was the first meeting between the two teams since they battled for the Anavet Cup, the annual regional championship between the champions of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

The MJHL champion Kings beat the SJHL champion Ice Wolves in five games to win the Anavet Cup, but both teams were already assured of a place at the RBC Cup since Dauphin was hosting the tournament.

The Ice Wolves scored just 63 seconds into the game as Kirk Moore's shot went wide of the net, banked off the endboards, off the pad of Brett Willows and into the Dauphin goal.

Bryce Lamb tied the game on a power play, with the only one of the Kings' 18 first-period shots to beat La Ronge goaltender Adam Bartko.

Dauphin outshot La Ronge 19-5 in the second period, but only Luke could beat Bartko, leaving the Kings with a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes despite a 37-17 advantage in shots.

The Ice Wolves pulled even at the 3:11 mark of the third period with Doug Lindensmith's team-leading third goal of the tournament.

La Ronge outshot the Kings 18-10 in the third period, but a late hooking penalty to Moore proved to be the Ice Wolves' downfall, as Luke snuck into the slot to snap a shot past Bartko, scoring his tournament-leading fourth goal.

The Ice Wolves will conclude the round robin against Brockville on Thursday night while the Kings wrap up their preliminary schedule Wednesday when they face winless Oakville.

Earlier Tuesday, Curtis Gedig scored the game-winner on a bizarre play and the defending champion Vipers beat Oakville.

Gedig scored when he was trying to get the puck into the Oakville zone from the other side of centre. The puck hit a partition on the glass and ricocheted past Blades netminder Daniel Savelli to give the Vipers (2-1) 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 game for the Pacific Region champions.

With the loss, the Central Region representatives were eliminated from post-season contention and had their hopes for a Canadian Junior A title dashed.

Oakville will miss the semifinals for the second time in as many RBC Cup appearances. The Blades went 1-3 in 2008, missing out on fourth place due to a tiebreaker.

Sahir Gill opened the scoring for Vernon at 14:32 of the first period when a point shot from Gedig banked off his skate and past a surprised Savelli.

Gill then helped set up Dan Nycholat on a Vernon power play just 1:43 later to put the Vipers up 2-0.

Cole Ikkala increased Vernon's lead to 3-0 early in the second period, but Oakville captain Michael Ingoldsby beat Vipers goaltender Graeme Gordon just 41 seconds later, cutting the lead to 3-1.

The Vipers take on Brockville on Wednesday.

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