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Vernon claims record fifth junior A championship with victory over Humboldt

NHL.com @NHL

VICTORIA, B.C. - Braden Pimm and Kyle Bigos scored power-play goals to give the Vernon Vipers a 2-0 victory over the Humboldt Broncos in the RBC Cup final Sunday night.

Vernon captured a record fifth national junior A championship before a crowd of 1,917 at Bear Mountain Arena. The Vipers won their first title in 10 years, eclipsing the record they had shared with the Prince Albert Raiders.

The loss denied the Broncos a rare chance to repeat as champions. The Broncos were seeking to join Vernon (1990 and 1991) and Prince Albert (1981 and 1982) as the only clubs to win back-to-back titles in the tournament's 38-year history.

The Vipers finished the tournament with a perfect 6-0 mark.

Andrew Hammond recorded the shutout as the Broncos outshot the Vipers 27-24. Vernon converted two of five power play chances while the Broncos were blanked on three.

The first period was scoreless and Vernon led 1-0 after 40 minutes on Pimm's goal.

Humboldt played one defenceman short for the first 19 minutes after Garrett Leedahl was checked face-first into the end glass and went to the locker-room holding a towel over his mouth. He returned at the start of the second period.

The Broncos suffered a major blow when Matt Kirzinger, chosen as the most valuable player in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs, received an automatic game misconduct for a checking-from-behind penalty.

Kirzinger, 21, skated off the ice with his head bowed as his junior career came to a premature end. Vernon's Chris Crowell, 20, was also ejected for a checking-from-behind infraction with 29 seconds left in the first period.

Humboldt had a goal disallowed in the second as officials ruled the Vernon net was knocked off its moorings before the puck crossed the goal-line.

Pimm gave Vernon a 1-0 lead on a power play about two and a half minutes later as he scored in a scramble. The goal came while Humboldt captain Brady Wacker was serving a roughing penalty.

Humboldt ran into penalty trouble in the third period and could not generate much offensively. Bigos, chosen as the tournament's most valuable player Saturday, secured the victory at the 14-minute mark as he skated from the side boards, cut in front of the net and deked Humboldt goaltender Mathieu LaRochelle.

Notes-Bigos was also named the tournament's top defensive player. Anthony Grieco of the Victoria Grizzlies picked up the top goaltender award while Vernon's Connor Jones was named top forward and his teammate Ryan Santana was judged the most sportsmanlike . . . The Canadian Junior Hockey League and Hockey Canada announced a partnership with the NHL to improve the exposure and development of Junior A hockey across the country. The deal calls for the NHL to work with the CJHL's 10 member leagues, which oversee 143 teams, and promote events like World Junior A Challenge, CJHL Prospects Game and National Junior A Championship. The junior circuits will also increase their ties with NHL Central Scouting and grant scouts more access to top players.

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