Sometimes teams bring out the best in their opposition. Such is the case when the Pembroke Lumber Kings and Carleton Place Canadians get together. Over the past decade the two franchises have been the most successful teams in the Central Canada Hockey League, and even though the players change each year, that history has impressed upon both teams that when the Lumber Kings face the Canadians, it’s a special game.
From 2007 to 2011 the Lumber Kings coached by Sheldon Keefe won five consecutive league championships, capping it with a national championship. When Keefe left Pembroke, it opened the door for the Canadians, led by owner and head coach Jason Clarke, to rise to the top of the league. The Canadians did, taking a run at the Lumber Kings record of winning five titles in a row, but falling short when they were stopped by the Ottawa Junior Senators after they had won four consecutive championships.
In recent years, the Canadians have owned the Lumber Kings, dominating both in the regular and post-season. In fact, the Canadians knocked the Lumber Kings out of the playoffs three consecutive seasons during their title runs, including a memorable seven game series in 2014. But when it comes to these two teams, you can normally expect the temperature to go up and the intensity to be high, like the January 2015 centre ice tilt between two goaltenders that made national headlines.
In their only meeting this year, the Canadians edged the Lumber Kings 2-1. The next installment of this rivalry is coming up on Sunday, September 29th at 7 p.m. when the Lumber Kings host the Canadians. It will be a de facto home opener for the Kings, after their originally scheduled opening night game against Smiths Falls was “fogged out” because of warm temperatures that filled the Pembroke Memorial Centre with a misty haze that prompted officials to postpone the game mid-way through the second period.
Rivalries are a great part of sports. There are few better in junior hockey than Carleton Place and Pembroke. It’s game on!