For the second time in one week, St. Paul's can boast high school hockey supremacy.
Two goals from forward Liam Bilton were all the Crusaders needed to claim the Milk Provincial 'AAAA' High School Hockey Championship banner, as they crushed the Kelvin Clippers 5-1 in front of 1,203 people at Eric Coy Arena Monday night.
The Crusaders, who toughed out a Winnipeg High School Hockey League title in a best-of-three series against the Clippers last week, have now won both the city championship and the provincial championship in the same season four times (dating back to 1993).
River East is the only other high school that has turned the unique double-play. The Kodiaks have done it three times over the last 20 seasons.
Being a regular participant in various high school hockey championships over the years, St. Paul's head coach Andrew Harder knows full well winning both the city and province is tough to pull off.
Turning two is tricky. That's why he prepared a little speech for his team before Monday's game in hopes he would get his club ready.
"The focus in the room was really good," he said through a big smile after the game. "We just talked before, that it's really hard to become a champion and I told them it's even harder to stay one. They liked that."
Given the immediate history between the clubs, the first period was one tight one. Kelvin had the best scoring chance when forward Dylan Allary split the defence for a wide-open shot on the St. Paul's goal.
Netminder Adam Vanderlinden made the save and minutes after that, Allary was sent to the penalty box on a cross-checking infraction.
The Crusaders made the Clippers pay, scoring with the man advantage with just over a minute left in the period. Bilton cashed in a loose puck at the side of the net to give the city champs the early edge.
That was a sign of things to come: St. Paul's scored four power-play goals Monday.
"It feels unreal coming back and winning another championship," Bilton said. "It's been done four times now by St. Paul's; that's a pretty good feat if you ask me."
St. Paul's made it 2-0 in the second when a shot from Brent Berrington's stick found its way past Kelvin goaltender Stu Fleury with three minutes left in the period.
If that goal didn't take the wind out of the Clippers sail, the start of the third certainly did. The Crusaders pushed their lead to 3-0 when forward Jordan Dragojevic deflected a point shot through the pads of Fleury 17 seconds into the final frame.
That goal killed Kelvin, who just couldn't find a similar break around the net.
"That hurt us big time," head coach Bruce Sirrell said. "We really needed one of those to go our way. The guys are devastated."
Fleury, who made 27 saves, deserved a better fate for his work. He was outstanding, stoning St. Paul's shooters from in close for most of the game. His play in the last seven minutes, when frustration found its way into the Kelvin side and eventually into the penalty box, earns mention.
After Kelvin forward Mike Lorange scored to make it 3-1, the Crusaders iced things when Easton Oliver-Hanna and Bilton netted power-play goals to close out the scoring.
NOTES: Vanderlinden, who made 25 saves, was named the most valuable player... St. Paul's players Bilton, Colby Ferbers and Brock Wright, Kelvin's Lorange and Scott Douglas, and Oak Park's Tyler Morwick were named tournament all-stars.
St. Paul's win Monday night makes six straight provincial titles for
Winnipeg-based 'AAAA' schools in high school hockey. A look at the
last 10 Manitoba champs:
2012 -- St. Paul's Crusaders
2011 -- Oak Park Raiders
2010 -- Vincent Massey Trojans (Winnipeg)
2009 -- Oak Park Raiders
2008 -- St. Paul's Crusaders
2007 -- St. Paul's Crusaders
2006 -- Garden Valley Zodiacs (Winkler)
2005 -- Crocus Plains Plainsmen (Brandon)
2004 -- St. John's Ravenscourt
2003 -- St. John's Ravenscourt
TIGERS TAKE TOP PRIZE
The provincial 'AA' high school hockey championships wrapped this past
Saturday in Russell, with the Neepawa Tigers taking home the
championship banner. A look at the final results:
Neepawa 5, Glenboro/Carberry/Baldur (GCB) 1
Bronze Medal Game
Morris 11, Notre Dame/Somerset/Westmount (NDSW) 4
Major Pratt 7, Boissevain 4
Most Valuable Player
Tristan Keck - Morris Mavericks
Goaltender: Carson Keck, Morris Mavericks
Defence: Jamie Vanderlinde, Morris Mavericks
Defence: Tyler Fenning-Cox, Neepawa Tigers
Forward: Colt Conrad, NDSW Mustangs
Forward: Connor Vrooman, GCB Wildcats