The Jasper Hockey League crowned a new champion when the Jasper Fire and Ice Bonestars defeated the Royal LePage Royals March 20. The Jasper Arena was packed to the rafters for “Super Sunday”—the culmination of a winter soap opera on skates. Contrary to The Jasper Local’s prediction, the only Barley King to take the ice that day was Dave Miller, who belted out the Canadian national anthem to start the A Final. His team had been eliminated two nights earlier by the Royals. The jury’s still out on what was more surprising: the Royals’ dramatic upset of the five-time champs, or the fact that Miller can sing in tune.
The C Final started out in typical fashion: lonely. Midway through the first period, however, spectators started to trickle in. Their dedication was rewarded as the Outlaws and the Jets had the most exciting game of the night. The Outlaws were up by four goals before the Jets finally took flight and rallied to send the game into OT. When the last goal went in it was behind the Outlaws’ netminder. Those who skipped the last Community Dinner of the year to watch may have been hungry, but their thirst for a thriller was satiated. The B Final...not so much. The game featured the Bongs and the Hawks, and although the stands were full, the Bongs were running on empty. The Hawks, by contrast, came to play, taking the lead early and never looking back. While there were a few sparks in the Bongs lineup—notably Geneva Lloyd, who must have skipped the “warm up”— ultimately, the team couldn’t get the re lit. The Hawks, meanwhile, were building o the strong skating of defenceman Tanner McBurney, who, with his manscaped playoff beard and sleek puck handling, led his team to a 7-2 victory.
After Dave Miller reenergized the crowd with his stutter-free version of O’ Canada, the Bonestars and the Royals got down to business. Both teams were happy to be back in the finals (the Bonestars sat out last year after getting beat in the semis by the Beavers, while the Royals hadn’t been in the big show since 2012). It’s safe to say the fans, too, were interested in an A- Final matchup sans Barley Kings, since they’d watched purple and yellow play for top spot for the past nine seasons. The Bonestars got on the board first, with JHL rookie (and ref) Seamus Lewin surprising goalie Cam Vos with a low wrister. After getting down by two, Rob Olson got the Royals on the board. Olson, who along with Max Bowen and Bryn Malcolm had a strong game for the blueshirts, celebrated his tally like he’d just learned how to make fire. Going into the second frame, the score was 4-2 Bonestars, but the game ultimately slipped away from the Royals when they got into penalty trouble late in the game. Lewin continued his hot play, netting a hat trick, while Cole Worsfold did his job between the Bonestars’ pipes, stopping a penalty shot after Troy Valcourt was called for fouling Hef Dorian on a clear scoring chance.
That may have been the turning point, as the Royals’ bench soon thereafter went bananas, directing their ire towards referee Gary Hilworth. Hilworth, unamused, doled out a bench minor to go along with a bunch of other infractions. Brady Bangle, who was uncharacteristically (not really) heated, got shown the gate. Scoring eight goals to their opponents’ five, after 44 minutes it was the Bonestars lifting the A Cup, although I’m pretty sure I saw Royals’ forward Reid Jackson drinking out of it during the afterparty (as Mike Kleiwer put it: “At least we beat the Brew Pub!”). Staying classy ’til the end, the winners swept their dressing room clean and bid arena staffer Karen Kovich adieu ’til next season. Then it was off to celebrate their victory at the Jasper Brewpub, where, much to the confusion of Jasper Pride Festival attendees, they all removed their shirts.