Kensington's quest to repeat as IJHL champs starts Sunday

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The first-place Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers begin defence of its Island Junior Hockey League title Sunday on home ice.

Game 1 of its best-of-seven semifinal versus the fourth-place Montague Pizza Delight Maniacs starts at 7 p.m. at Community Gardens.

Despite the 27-point difference in the standings this year, the series is closer than it appears.

The Maniacs come in with some of the best firepower in the league. They are led by Logan Toole and Tyler Rose, who have a combined 39 goals and 82 points, and adding Jonathon Arsenault and former Summerside Western Capital Damon Macdonald strengthened the forward units.

The Maniacs arguably have the biggest team in the league which will make it tough on the Vipers to contain.

Kensington comes in boasting the league's best backend, led by goaltender Grant Grady's league-leading 13 wins and 3.01 goals against-average (GAA).

The defence has Ben Keefe back. He played the last regular season game after suffering a serious injury back in November. Veterans Johnnie Richards and Jordan Mayhew lead an attack-by-committee forward group. With the addition of Parker Ronahan the forwards will be even deeper.

The injury-riddled Vipers will be close to having a full lineup for the start of the series after losing 95 man games in the regular season.

Game 2 is Thursday at 8 p.m. in Souris.

In the other series, the second-place Arsenault Fish Mart Red Wings tangles with the third-place A&S Scrap Metal Metros in Sunday's Game 1 in Abram-Village (7 p.m.)

The Wings finished three points behind Kensington and 22 points ahead of the Metros, winning the season series 7-1 (the lone loss in overtime).

But the Metros had a .500 February with wins over Kensington and Montague highlights against two losses to Western.

Wings' sniper Logan Smallman led the league with 26 goals and 61 points, while runningmate Jason Gallant finished with 44 points. Chris Gallant was second behind Grady with a 3.69 GAA.

The Metros' Patrick Cummiskey was fourth in league scoring with 43 points.

Game 2 is Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Cody Banks Arena.

Organizations: Island Junior Hockey League, Summerside Western Capital Damon Macdonald, Arsenault Fish Mart Red Wings Game 1

Geographic location: Kensington, Community Gardens, Souris Abram-Village

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