Kensington wins fifth straight and ninth IJHL title in 11 years
MONTAGUE – The Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers continue to add to a dynasty that may never be equalled or surpassed.
The Vipers won their fifth straight Island Junior Hockey League playoff championship – and ninth in 11 years – on Saturday night. The Vipers, who have swept the last four best-of-seven finals and have won 17 straight games in the league’s championship series, outlasted the host Montague Maniacs 10-7 in the series-clinching win.
“We believe (winning five straight championships) dates back to the ‘70s, and that was a team with three different names,” said head coach Wade Waddell, who is in his 19th season behind the Vipers’ bench. “I’m going to put in a challenge saying we are the winningest team in Island hockey history in my opinion.”
The Pat McIver-owned Vipers completed the post-season a perfect 8-0 (won-lost), and outscored their opponents 60-27 in the process. In the regular season, the Vipers recorded a first-place record of 25-5-2 (won-lost-overtime/shootout losses).
“It was a great playoff run, again,” said Waddell, who is joined on the bench by veteran coach Trent Leard. “One thing that makes this team special is our resiliency.
“Every time we seem to get pushed, regardless if it’s in a game or a power play or a penalty kill, this team has answered the bell each and every time.”
The Vipers, who have also won nine of the last 11 provincial titles, will now defend the Don Johnson Memorial Cup at the Eastern Canadian junior B hockey championship in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., from April 22 to 27.
“It’s a little different this year because Ontario has been added,” said Waddell. “One thing about this team, I wouldn’t count the Kensington Vipers out at any point. Last year, we started the Don Johnson 0-2, and came back and won the whole thing.
“We are going over with the intention of winning it, and if we do not win it we are going to be disappointed.”
At the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre, the Vipers spotted the Maniacs 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the first period before answering with four unanswered goals, including three in a 60-second span. The Vipers went on to build period leads of 6-4 and 8-4.
“It’s hard to pick apart a team that goes a perfect 8-0, but when we drew up this game it is probably not how we drew it up on the board – to win a 10-7 game,” said Waddell.
Brett Hogan, who was named the most valuable player of the playoffs, Spencer McAllister and Adam Wight all scored two goals for the Vipers in Game 4. Josh Bowman, Kyle Doucette and Jeremy Jollimore all had a goal and an assist while Ryan Murray chipped in with a single tally.
Jordan Mayhew (3), Logan Garnhum (2), Ryan Kelly and Spencer Montgomery collected assists.
For the Maniacs, Matt Higgins (3), Alex Gallant (1-3), Matt Myers (1-2) and Chris Stevenson found the back of the net. Stewart Branstrom, Sean Corney and Luke Collings added assists.
Grant Grady earned the goaltending win in relief of starter Dylan McQuaid, who gave up three goals on 10 shots. Grady stopped 35 of 39 shots the rest of the way. Tyler Whiffen and Geoff Gaudet both saw action in the Montague goal. Whiffen, who started in goal, was relieved by Gaudet following Kensington’s fourth goal, but returned to start the second period.
Waddell paid tribute to the Maniacs, who finished just four points back of the Vipers in the regular season on the strength of a 23-7-2 record, and said he understands the disappointment of losing a final series.
“We’ve had our heartache along the way, too,” said Waddell. “We have paid our dues. A lot of people might not remember that.
“We went to a lot of Game 7s and did not come out on top, and you were thinking if it was never going to happen for you. We stuck around, and we’ve had a lot of success over the last number of years.
“But, at the end of the day, I know what it feels like on the other side. I definitely don’t take any pleasure in their pain over there because I’ve been there.”
Another key to the Vipers’ success this season, says Waddell, is the team’s depth.
“We had some guys go down in these playoffs,” said Waddell. “We had some key injuries, some fellas missed games. . .
“We always had guys who would pop into the lineup, and different guys filled different roles. We rolled both goaltenders, and no other team could match us depth-wise.
“Our team also has good chemistry. They do a lot of things together away from the ice, and that made a difference in the end. . .
“It takes a lot to run a hockey team, you get close to these kids, you get close to the parents and I know it might be hokey to say, but it feels like a family really.”
Kensington Vipers’ championships:
2014 – swept Montague Maniacs.
2013 – swept Arsenault’s Fish Mart Western Red Wings.
2012 – swept Arsenault’s Fish Mart Western Red Wings.
2011 – swept Montague Maniacs.
2010 – defeated Sherwood Falcons in seven games.
2008 – defeated Sherwood Falcons in six games.
2007 – defeated South Shore Red Wings in five games.
2005 – defeated Sherwood Falcons in seven games.
2004 – defeated Sherwood Falcons in five games.
Don Johnson Cups
(Atlantic junior B championships)
2011 – defeated Montague Maniacs 3-0 in championship game in Montague.
2013 – defeated Sackville Blazers 4-3 in championship game in Moncton, N.B.