[League Site] CHARLESWOOD HAWKS 4
ST. BONIFACE RIELS 5 (in overtime)
(St. Boniface leads semi-final 1-0)
On opening night of the MMJHL playoffs the league produced two fabulous battles.
At the Southdale CC the 1st place St. Boniface Riels and their 37-6-2 record faced the Charleswood Hawks and their 23-19-3 record. Odd situation for the Hawks, being the underdog that is. They are the MMJHL's power. The Hawks lost last year's final to the Twisters to break a string of 4 straight conquests of the Jack McKenzie Trophy, awarded to the MMJHL's playoff winners. The Hawks have won 7 cups in 9 years. In the last 12 years they have 9 cups. And in the last 20 years they have won 13 cups. The north wall of the Eric Coy Arena is covered with Hawks' banners. Imagine what it would be like if they put up banners as well for every Art Moug Trophy win, given to the league's pennant-winner. They have won that 6 out of 7, 9 out of 12, and 12 out of 18.
On the other hand, St. Boniface last won both titles in 1986. From 1972 to 1986 the Riels won the McKenzie 4 times, and the Moug 6 times. They are due.
The Riels have assembled an explosive team. They scored a league-leading 239 goals in 45 games, compared to 156 for Charleswood. The goals against is almost the same (144 for St. B., 145 for Charleswood). They have the top 4 scorers in the league, and 6 of the top 8.
I had the pleasure of watching the Riels twice this season. On one occasion they beat the Hawks in overtime, and the other they lost a tight battle with the Raiders. The Hawks played a tremendous game against them, but every turnover resulted in a goal.
On Friday night, the Riels made it look like they would run away with it. They built a 4-0 in the first 28 minutes. Then Jesse Toth scored a natural hat-trick in the 2nd period. The Hawks tallied the only goal of the 3rd period and it was off to OT. The 14 minutes of overtime produced 17 combined shots before the Riels claimed the victory. PEMBINA VALLEY TWISTERS 3
RAIDERS JUNIOR H.C. 4 (Raiders lead semi-final 1-0)
This series promises to be a close one. In the regular season the Raiders had 68 points and the Twisters 66. The Twisters are the defending champs, and both sides have been at or near the top of the league standings in recent years.
The Raiders started as the Seven Oaks Raiders in 1977. They have won the McKenzie once, in 1980, and the Moug twice, in 1979 and 1980. After being in danger of folding the team was rebranded in 2009. They dropped the "Seven Oaks" from their name and changed their colours from black and yellow to maroon and silver. The Billy Mosienko Arena has been spiffied up a bit and the team has become a contender. I am still wondering if they might consider using the Civic Centre for the finals to accommodate what should be large crowds, should they get there.
The Twisters are relative newcomers to the MMJHL. They started in 2001 and were based in Oak Bluff. Morris wanted a team, and they merged with the Twisters and moved the team to Morris in 2005. They won the McKenzie in 208 and 2013, and the Moug in 2010.
On Friday night the Raiders held leads of 3-0 and 4-1. Late goals by the Twisters made it close. One has to expect a lengthy series in this one.NEXT GAMES
Sun, Mar 23
St. Boniface at Charleswood 7:30 at Eric Coy Arena
Raiders at Pembina Valley 7:00 at Morris Rec Complex
Tue, Mar 25
Charleswood at St. Boniface 7:30 at Southdale CC
Pembina Valley at Raiders 7:30 at Billy Mosienko Arena