President's Update - February 10th, 2014

Avonlea Arrows win first HHL Pennant title….

Congratulations to the Avonlea Arrows who have finished first and claimed the league pennant for the first time. The Arrows joined the Highway Hockey League in the 2000-2001 season after the Soo Line League disbanded. In their first year they finished with just two wins in twenty-four games played but that would be just one of only two times they would finish out of contention in our league. I remember talking to their Manager at the All Star dinner in 2001 and being told that they knew what they needed to do to get competitive….and they did know. The Arrows finished second in 2002 and lost out in the first round and were out of the playoffs the next year but since then they have won four League Championships in a span of eight seasons (2005-2012) and were in five finals in that span of eight years only losing once to the Southey Marlins in 2006. Not only did the Arrows create a winning tradition quickly they also created another tradition in our league…simply put….it doesn’t matter how you start and finish in the regular season, it’s how you end the season in the playoffs. Habitually slow starters that got serious when it counts, the Arrows won two championships when they finished fifth, one when they finished third and their latest in 2012 when they finished second. In 2006 when they lost to Southey in the final they had finished sixth! Congratulations to the entire organization on your first Highway Hockey League Pennant.

Some history to ponder…..The Pennant Trophy has been in existence for 48 years and will be renamed this year….it is presently called the Labatts Sportsman Trophy. How many times has each team that is presently a member of the Highway Hockey League won the Pennant….?...Raymore Rockets -9, Strasbourg Maroons – 7, Cupar Canucks – 6, Southey Marlins – 6, Lumsden Monarchs – 5, Wynyard Monarchs -2, Bethune Bulldogs -1 and now the Avonlea Arrows -1. The challenge for the Avonlea Arrows….last year the Cupar Canucks we’re the first team in nine years to win both the Pennant and League Championship. In the last twenty years only five teams have done that…Cupar twice, Raymore, Lumsden and Southey. There were eight teams that are no longer in existence that have won the Pennant a total of eleven times. In 47 years of existence the Pennant winner has gone on to win the League Championship only seventeen times…or 36% of the time…..When we get closer to our 2013 final series we will publish some interesting statistics about the Robert Schultz Championship Trophy.

The Arrows clinched the HHL title with a 6-0 victory over the Raymore Rockets on Friday evening. Two goals from Calvin Watson and Josh Jelinski along with goals from Gavin Mievre and Shay Neufeld along with shut out goaltending from Nathan Fischl secured the win for the Arrows. There were only two penalties in the game and both went against the Arrows. Deric Kuntz was in net for the Rockets. Also on Friday evening the Wynyard Monarchs fired 41 shots and scored five power play goals on their way to a 9-5 victory over the Lumsden Monarchs. Matt Strueby led the way with three goals while Brett Leffler had two power play goals and three assists. Dillon Shewchuk, Cody Straker and Donovan Hall also scored on the power play for Wynyard. Bryan Kauk had an even strength goal and five assists. Lumsden got power play goals from David Fisher and Stuart Poulin. Lance Morrison, Austin Preete and Brendan Ryan also scored for Lumsden. David Perkin faced 25 shots and picked up his league leading fifteenth win in net for Wynyard. Trevor Thiessen was in net for Lumsden. Both teams had ten minor penalties.

On Saturday evening the Bethune Bulldogs clinched fourth place with a 7-5 victory over the Strasbourg ending the Maroons four game win streak. Jacob Ulmer with two goals and Jens Johnson and Mike Reich with a power play goal gave the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead sixteen minutes into the first period. Quinn McIntosh would also score in the first period to make it 4-1 going into the second period. Jory Miller and Brady Heintz would score for Strasbourg and Jacob Ulmer would score his third goal of the evening on the power play to make it 5-3 for the Bulldogs going into the third period. In the third period Branden Sentes and Jory Miller would score on the power play for the Maroons and Lucas Ulmer and Jacob Ulmer would score for the Bulldogs to make the final 7-5. Jacob Ulmer would end up with a five point night for the Bulldogs. Tyler Kifferling faced 33 Bulldog shots and Ryan Seibel faced 23 Maroon shots. The Bulldogs had eight minor penalties and the Maroons had seven. In Raymore the Cupar Canucks clinched third place with a 7-3 victory over the Raymore Rockets. Two goals each from Tyler Stewart (1 ppg) and Brett Boha led the way for the Canucks. Also scoring for the Canucks were Jordan Pratt, Shea Van Luven and Davis Brown. Tyler Shulko had a goal and two assists for the Rockets. Josh Jordan scored on the power play and Cody Mapes also scored for the Rockets. Colby Miller picked up his sixth win of the year in net for the Canucks. John Arscott was in net for the Rockets. The Canucks had a major and three minor penalties and the Rockets had a major and two minor penalties.

Games from last week….last Tuesday the Strasbourg Maroons won their fourth game in a row with an 8-5 victory over the Southey Marlins. The Maroons were up 3-2 after one period and the Marlins would score twice unanswered in the second period to carry a 4-3 lead into the third period. The Maroons outscored Southey 5-1 in the third period. Eric Schultz had a natural hat trick in this game and two assists for a five point night.  Brady Heintz (1 ppg) and Mitch McNish would each score twice. McNish scored his league leading fourth game winning goal. Greg Ferguson also scored in this game. Talking about hat tricks how about our league leading scorer Pat Thompson-Gale? He also had a natural hat trick and one more goal and had an assist on the Marlin’s last goal for a five point night. Southey’s fifth goal was scored by Elliot Hubick. Tyler Kifferling picked up the win in net for the Maroons and Kurtis Sollosy was in net for the Marlins.  The Marlins had six minor penalties and the Maroons had eight.

On Wednesday evening we had two games played in the league. In Lumsden the only information going onto the game sheet were goals. The Avonlea Arrows scored first and maintained the lead but it took until the third period to put this game away when they scored five times to defeat the hometown Lumsden Monarchs 12-6. Gavin Mievre had three goals had three assists, Scott Arnold had two goals and four assists, Calder Neufeld had two goals and two assists and last year’s league MVP Shay Neufeld had two goals and three assists to lead the way for the Arrows. Josh Jelinski scored the only power play goal in the game and the rest of the Arrows scoring came from Calvin Watson and Stuart Holland. Lance Morrison led the way for the Monarchs with two goals, one shorthanded, and two assists. Jesse Matlock had two goals and an assist and Chris Whitteron and Miquel Pereira also scored for Lumsden. Colin Munroe made 23 stops in net for the Arrows to pick up his fourth win of the year and move to 4-1-0 on the year. Trevor Thiessen took the loss in net for the Monarchs and faced 61 shots. In Raymore the Wynyard Monarchs defeated the Raymore Rockets 9-1. Brett Leffler had a hat trick, two goals shorthanded of which one was the game winner, and four assists for a seven point night to lead the Monarchs. The seven points put him within six points of the league lead held by Pat Thompson-Gale. Donovan Hall also had a hat trick and two assists on this night for the Monarchs. Matt Strueby scored twice, including the game’s only power play goal, and Andrew Bzdel also scored for Wynyard. Todd MacMurchy scored the Rockets lone goal. Dave Perkin picked up the win in net for the Monarchs and Deric Kuntz was in net for the Rockets.

On Thursday evening the Cupar Canucks defeated the Southey Marlins 6-5 when Davis Brown scored the winning goal in a shootout.  The Marlins had a 2-1 lead going into the second period on goals from Pat Thompson-Gale and Cody Hall after Kyle Ermel opened the scoring in this game for the Canucks. In the second period Davis Brown scored on the power play to tie the game up and shortly after Cody Hall would score for the Marlins to give the lead back to the Marlins. Tyler Stewart would score late in the second period to tie this game up again and the Canucks would get their second lead of the game when Davis Brown potted his second goal of the game with just one minute left in the second period. Cody Hall would complete the hat trick on the power play half way through the third period and this game was tied again. Shea Van Luven would then score to give the Canucks the lead with eight minutes left and then Shay Wirll would score with just over six minutes left in the game to send this game to overtime. There was nothing solved in overtime and Davis Brown would get the shootout winner for the Canucks. Thompson-Gale had four points in this game and Cody Hall would end up with five points and was involved in every Marlins goal. Justin Schulhauser had three assists for the Canucks. Jamie Wutke gets the win in net for the Canucks and Kurtis Sollosy picks up a point in net for the Marlins. The Canucks had three minor penalties and the Marlins had two. This was the final regular season game for the Marlins.

Congratulations to Pat Thompson-Gale of the Southey Marlins as he will be this year’s recipient of the Tyson Sievert HHL Scoring Trophy. Thompson Gale had eight points in his last two games to finish with 30 goals and 29 assists for 59 points. Last year’s league scoring champion, Brett Leffler, did all he could in his last two games picking up 12 points and finishing second in the league with 25 goals and 29 assists. Bryan Kauk from Wynyard was third with 50 points and that total included a league high 35 assists. Donovan Hall from Wynyard pulled into fourth place with 40 points and Kyle Ross from the Canucks had 39 points in 12 games to finish fifth. The balance of our top ten were Tyrell Shulko from the Rockets in sixth and then a five way tie for seventh between Mike Reich from the Bulldogs, Kyle Ermel from the Canucks, last year’s league MVP Shay Neufeld from the Arrows, Josh Jordan from the Rockets and Shay Wirll from the Marlins. Neufeld, Ermel, Reich and Ross each have one game left to play. Brett Leffler leads all scorers with nine power play goals. He also is tied with Pat Thompson-Gale with four shorthanded goals.

The Avonlea Arrows will win another 48 year old trophy for the first time….the Team Goaltending Trophy which is another trophy we will be renaming presently called the Capital Auto Body Trophy. Hard to believe that the Arrows who had Justin Mrazek win the All Star goalie award five years in a row have never won the team goaltending trophy. Nathan Fischl and Colin Munroe will share this trophy. Fischl has his name on this trophy twice with the Raymore Rockets. Fischl leads all goalies with a 2.54 GAA. David Perkin finishes the year with 1097 minutes played and 15 wins. Ryan Seibel from Bethune and Nathan Fischl led all goalies with two shut outs each.

The Wynyard Monarchs continue to lead the league with a 34.5% conversion rate on the power play. They are followed by Southey at 30.6% and Avonlea at 26.5%. The Cupar Canucks have the best penalty killing average at 83.5%. They are followed by Avonlea at 82.3% and Wynyard at 81.1%. The Avonlea Arrows are 11-0-0 when they score first and 4-3-1 when they don’t. The Wynyard Monarchs are 5-3-0 when they don’t score first and 10-2-0 when they do. The Bethune Bulldogs are 11-1-1 when they score first and just 1-5-0 when they don’t. All Star nominations will be out in the next week and we will post them here.

In Provincial action the Strasbourg Maroons lost to Bruno 5-1 in Strasbourg on Friday evening and that series will play the deciding game in Bruno on Monday, February 17th. The Cupar Canucks lost their first game in the Balgonie series 6-5 in overtime and play game two of that series on Wednesday in Balgonie. The Wynyard Monarchs defeated Drake 6-3 on Saturday evening and play game two of that series in Drake on Saturday evening. The Bethune Bulldogs defeated Craik 8-2 in game one of their two game total point Provincial ‘D’ series and play game two on Saturday evening at 8 p.m. in Bethune. The Avonlea Arrows play their two game total point Provincial ‘D’ series this weekend against Kelliher with the first game in Kelliher Friday evening and game two Sunday afternoon at 3:00 in Avonlea. There are HHL players from Raymore and Southey playing on both the Balgonie and Kelliher teams.

We have two games left in the HHL on Tuesday evening. The Lumsden Monarchs are in Cupar and the Bethune Bulldogs are in Avonlea. Playoffs begin next week with Avonlea playing Southey, Wynyard playing Raymore, Cupar playing Lumsden and Bethune playing Strasbourg. The first round series are a best of three.

There is lots of hockey, league and Provincials, this week. Please get out to a game near you and thank you for supporting senior hockey at its best!

Gerry Tomkins

HHL President

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