JASON LA ROSE
LLOYDMINSTER, Alta./Sask. – Matthew Greenfield stopped each and every one of the 48 shots he faced, leading the West Kelowna Warriors to their first RBC Cup championship with a 4-0 win over the host Lloydminster Bobcats on Sunday night.
The Warriors are the first team from British Columbia to win Canada’s National Junior A Championship since the Penticton Vees in 2012, and the 13th ever, extending B.C.’s all-time record.
Greenfield made 18 saves in the first period, 14 in the second and 16 more in the third to become the first goaltender to record a shutout in the national championship game since Francis Dupuis turned aside all 40 Vernon Vipers shots to help the Pembroke Lumber Kings win the 2011 RBC Cup.
Jonathan Desbiens, Reed Gunville, Liam Blackburn and Rylan Yaremko did the scoring for the Warriors.
Coming off an emotionally-draining semifinal win over Brooks, West Kelowna got the early lead it wanted; the rebound off a Kylar Hope ended up in the slot and Desbiens made no mistake for the 1-0 goal just 5:21 in.
That would end up being enough for Greenfield, who missed the first three games of the tournament after being injured at the Western Canada Cup, but allowed just two goals in his three starts.
The Warriors doubled their lead just over six minutes into the second period; after a Kris Spriggs shot missed the net and made its way all the way back into the Lloydminster zone, Garrett Forster fed a trailing Gunville in the slot and his quick shot beat Bobcats goaltender Alex Leclerc to make it 2-0.
A power-play opportunity midway through the third period gave the Bobcats a chance to cut the deficit in half, but Blackburn took advantage of a misplay in the offensive zone and banked a shot off Leclerc and in for a shorthanded goal at 10:24.
Yaremko hit the empty net with 2:36 to go, officially starting the party for the Warriors.
West Kelowna played a remarkable 93 games this season – finishing 62-25-6 – and were one overtime goal away from being eliminated by the Nanaimo Clippers in the B.C. Hockey League semifinals.
After winning that game, the Warriors lost just four of their last 17 to complete their national title run.
Lloydminster capped the most successful season in franchise history by becoming just the 11th host team since 1990 to reach the national final; their loss dropped host teams to 5-6 in those appearances.
The 2017 RBC Cup will be held May 13-21 in Cobourg, Ont., with the Cobourg Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League playing host.