VERNON – The Vernon Vipers came oh-so-close to a seventh National Junior A Hockey Championship at Kal Tire Place Saturday afternoon.
The Snakes lost 6-3 to the Yorkton Terriers in the RBC Cup semifinals.
Yorkton will face the Carleton Place Canadians in Sunday’s final at 4:30 p.m. The game will be on TSN.
The Canadians downed Dauphin Kings 5-3 in the other semifinal game Saturday night.
It’s the second time the Terriers will play for RBC Cup; they reached the final in their last appearance, in 2006, but lost 8-2 to the Burnaby Express.
Daylan Gatzke had a pair of goals to lead the Terriers’ offence.
Tanner Lishchynsky, Dylan Johnson, Chase Norrish and Tayler Thompson had the other goals for Yorkton, which has won three games in four days, all with win-or-go-home implications.
Kale Thomson made 34 saves in his third straight standout performance in the Terriers goal.
Brett Mulcahy, Michael McNicholas and Dexter Dancs scored for Vernon.
After early pressure from the Vipers, it was Yorkton that got on the board first at 9:05 thanks to Lishchynsky, who snapped a shot over the blocker of Vernon goaltender Austin Smith on a Terriers power play, and Gatzke doubled the lead 46 seconds later with a shot off the left wing.
Mulcahy got one back for the Vipers late in the opening period, tipping in a Jared Wilson point shot with Vernon on the man advantage.
It took the Vipers just 96 seconds of the second period to tie the game, again on the power play; McNicholas finished off a pretty pass from Dancs to reignite the pro-Vernon crowd at Kal Tire Place.
But the Terriers answered back with a pair of goals less than three minutes apart midway through the period.
First it was Johnson redirecting a shot from Norrish to restore the Yorkton lead at 8:57, followed just 2:42 later by a seeing-eye shot from Norrish that eluded Smith to make it 4-2.
That would be all for the Vernon goaltender, who allowed four goals on just eight shots. He was replaced by Danny Todosychuk who stopped all 14 shots he faced the rest of the way.
Dancs made it a one-goal game again just 59 seconds after Norrish’s goal, tucking the puck around Thomson from in close, but that would be the last puck to beat the Terriers netminder.
Vernon had its chances in the third period, including a 25-second five-on-three power play, but couldn’t tie the game, losing in the national semifinals for the first time since 1992.
Gatzke and Thompson both scored into an empty net in the final 90 seconds to cap the scoring.