|A solid defensive forward, Helm compiled 22 points in 23 playoff games for the Tigers. (Double E Photography) |
Michal Repik's third-period goal lifted the Vancouver Giants to the 89th Memorial Cup with a 3-1 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers Sunday.
With overtime looming, the winger emerged from a scrum behind the Tigers' net and wrapped a shot between the legs of goaltender Matt Keetley at 15:05 to the delight of the partisan crowd.
"We did it in front of 16,000 people," Repik said. "To score the winning goal is great."
Forward Spencer Machacek iced the game with an empty net power-play goal in the final minute.
The Giants capture Canada's junior hockey championship in only their sixth year of existence.
Vancouver winger Milan Lucic was named the tournament's most valuable player. The Boston Bruins draft pick netted a pair of goals and added five assists in five games.
"This is the greatest feeling ever," Lucic, 18, shouted over the cheering of the 16,281 fans at the Pacific Coliseum. "Winning the trophy in front of the home crowd, you couldn't ask for anything better.
"It was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders," he added. "It got to the point it had to come to us. We had to do it."
The Giants also avenged its double-overtime loss in Game 7 of the Western Hockey League title game to Medicine Hat.
"We felt in the dressing room we had a good enough team to beat them and we could feed off all the fans in our building and I think we really did that tonight," said Giants captain Brett Festerling.
The Tigers spoiled the brilliant effort of Keetley, who kept his team in the game with several key saves.
The WHL's playoff MVP turned aside 38 of the 40 shots he faced.
While he wasn't tested nearly as often as his counterpart, Vancouver goaltender Tyson Sexsmith made 14 saves.
The Giants came out firing in the first period, peppering Medicine Hat with 17 shots on goal in the first period. But thanks to the stellar play of Keetley, the teams headed to the dressing rooms scoreless after the opening frame.
Vancouver finally broke through at 6:07 of the second when Mario Bliznak pounced on a rebound and chipped the puck over a sprawling Keetley for his first goal of the tournament.
The Tigers drew even on a power play with just over four minutes remaining in the period. Taking a centring feed, Darren Helm whipped a point-blank shot past Sexsmith for his second goal of the tournament.
In 23 playoff games, Helm scored 10 goals with 12 assists. In his third season with the Tigers, he finished with 25 goals and 39 assists in 59 regular-season games.