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Ladner Pioneers go back-to-back

President’s Cup winners for the second straight year
The Ladner Pioneers celebrate their second straight President's Cup championship. Photo courtesy Ladner Pioneers

A nearly perfect week was capped off with a second straight President’s Cup championship for the Ladner Pioneers.

After compiling a 5-1 record in round-robin play, Ladner edged the Snake Island Muskies 10-8 in the semifinal Friday (Sept. 1) before toppling the Edmonton Miners 12-8 on Saturday (Sept. 2) in the championship final.

“It’s a tough tournament – eight games in seven days and trying to get everyone prepared and the line-ups,” said head coach Ross Frehlick. “The competition was unreal – every team was good. It was as expected. It was managing guys and making sure we were as healthy as we could be for the semifinal. It was a collective effort on our part – everyone played great.”

The semifinal was a back-and-forth contest with Ladner taking the lead with under two minutes to play. They scored into an empty net a few seconds later to seal the win.

In the final, Ladner led 4-1 after the first and 9-5 after two. Each team scored three goals in the third period. Ladner never trailed in the game.

Ladner is the first B.C. team to repeat as champions since the Vernon Tigers accomplished the feat way back in 1976.

The Pioneers now have four President’s Cup titles. No team in B.C. has won more.

The bronze medal went to the host team as the Oakville Rock beat the Muskies 18-9 in the third-place game.

The Pioneers round-robin wins came against the Miners (10-9), Kahnawake Mohawks (17-9), Six Nations Rivermen (8-3), Tuscarora Tomahawks (5-4) and Muskies (9-8) while their lone loss came against the Rock (10-7).

Ryan Benesch led the team in scoring with nine goals, 23 assists and 32 points.

Benesch finished fifth overall in tournament scoring.

Next on the team was Austin Shanks with 15 goals and 15 assists good for 30 points. He finished seventh overall in tournament scoring.

Tyler Pace was next with 11 goals, 19 assists and 30 points good for eighth overall in tournament scoring.

Zach Herreweyers had a 20-point tournament with six goals and 14 assists, while Phillip Caputo had nine goals and four assists, good for 13 points alongside James Rahe who also had 13 points with six goals and seven assists.

Goalie Christian Del Bianco went 6-1 in the tournament with a 7.25 goals against average stopping 293 of the 351 shots he faced.

The Pioneers could be looking at a three-peat as the club will be hosting the 2024 President’s Cup at the Ladner Leisure Centre.

“That’s exciting. A lot of work needs to be done and we will need a lot of support from the community to get it done, but we’re looking forward to the challenge,” added Frehlick.