A little late with this update, but for those who haven't heard, we did it. We are the 2022-2023 Championships. After days of recovering and spending some catchup time with the family, I thought I'd better get this article up!
Our last Championship came in 2008 and while we've made it to the finals a few times since that last Championship, the Royals were finally able to realize their goal and bring the AA Championship back to the community.
Coming into Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead, everyone on both benches knew what was at risk in this high stakes game. Supported by a sea of Royals fans, the guys were able to rally and win on the road in remarkable fashion.
Things seemed to be going in the Royals favor, with the boys in blue netting the first 3 goals of the game. The first goal came early in the 1st with #44 Callan Christner (Sauder/Kropf) connecting at 15:31 in the first. In the 2nd, it was #10 Sean Kienapple (Vulgan/Gerth) at 16:07 and then #18 Trevor Sauder (Christner) at 12:48. Things seemed to be going well, but Ripley came to battle and showed just why they deserved to be there, scoring 2 back to back goals to close the lead to 3-2. Feeling the pressure, Tavistock was able to regain the 2 goal lead after #5 Geoff Killing smashed in the pass from #10 Sean Kienapple, while Ripley was last to score in the 2nd with 2:59 left.
4-3 Royals after 2 periods.
Ripley had the Royals scrambling in the 3rd, scoring the tying goal with 13:10 left, but the Royals found a familiar hero as #18 Trevor Sauder assisted by #5 Geoff Killing scored a shorthanded beauty with 7:13 to go. With the Ripley goalie pulled, the Royals 6th goal came with 52 sec left from none other then our Captain #5 Geoff Killing with a fitting assist given to #30 Jensen van Boekel, the Royals netminder that had become a staple in the crease throughout the playoffs. As the clock expired, the Royals players and staff swarmed the ice to celebrate and relish in accomplishing the monumental task of winning the Championship. 6-4 final in Ripley. Champions once again, a fitting way to celebrate our 40th year of Royals hockey in Tavistock.
Full GAME Courtesy of 519 Sports HERE
Game 5 Highlights HERE
On behalf of our whole organization, I want to thank our sponsors and amazing fans who've shown their support throughout the season. We really couldn't have done this without your cheers and excitement as the Royals hit the ice each weekend. We hope you all enjoyed this years journey and we hope to see you next fall when we return to the ice.
With so many unsung heroes behind the team, I'd like to personally thank our driver Cletus Ditner who made sure we got home safely each week, driving through wind/rain and the occasional blizzard to get us to and from our games. Undeterred by noisy players behind him, Cletus is a consummate professional and we're fortunate to have him with our organization.
Another very special thank you goes out to "the glue" of our team, both literally and figuratively. We were very fortunate to have Rachel Graham join our team this season. RMT/FST expert, you can put many labels behind a name, but none do justice to what she meant to our team. I hope the many hours you spent stretching, healing and preparing our players throughout the season will all be worth it when we get to put a Championship ring on your finger! Job WELL DONE RACHEL!
To our Captain #5 Geoff Killing, thank you for your commitment these last few years in helping this group realize their goal. Without your skill and leadership from the blue line, this wouldn't have been possible. Your leadership held us together, while your compassion for your teammates was inspiring. You wore the "C" well my friend, thanks for including me in this journey. We can now finally give you the proper title you deserve......CHAMP!