President's Update - March 31st, 2015

Bethune Bulldogs 2015 Robert Schultz Trophy Champions

Bethune Bulldogs 2015 Robert Schultz Trophy Champions

Bethune 2015 HHL Champions...fall to Lanigan in game three of Provincial 'A' final...


The Bethune Bulldogs defeated the defending HHL Champions, Wynyard Monarchs, 3-2 on Wednesday evening in front of a packed house in Bethune. The Bulldogs won the Robert Schultz trophy final three games to two. This was the first championship win for the Bulldogs since they rejoined the Highway Hockey League. Bethune joined our league in the second year of play in the 1968-69 season and left our league in the 80’s. Bethune won the championship in 1972 and 1974 so it has been 41 years since their last sip of the cup. Since returning to the league in 2000 the Bulldogs have made the final three times and each time they have faced the Wynyard Monarchs. They lost to the Monarchs in 2008 and 2014 before winning this year on their third try.


Game five produced some excellent play, excellent goaltending from Ryan Senft and Dave Perkin and unlike the first three games of the series there were very few penalties. Bethune had two minor penalties and a misconduct and Wynyard had one penalty that came in the first period and was the only call of the first two periods. That penalty taken by Wynyard saw the Monarchs actually outshoot the Bulldogs 3-1 during the penalty kill and included two breakaways that Senft stopped. Brett Leffler, our leading scorer in the playoffs and the regular season (shared with Michael Jordan) opened the scoring unassisted at the 15:38 mark and the Monarchs were up 1-0 after one period. In four of the five games of the final, the team that scored first lost the game…which goes against the normal statistical outcome historically. In the second period at the 7:16 mark Jacob Ulmer got the Bulldogs on the board assisted by Kyle Ross. The second period ended with the game tied 1-1. In the third period at the 4:58 mark, Shea Van Luven scored off a rebound. The goal was assisted by Kyle Ross and the Bulldogs had their first lead of the game. The Bulldogs took two penalties in a row late in the third period and on the second power play opportunity for the Monarchs Riley Storzuk would score. With less than six minutes left in the third period the game was tied and there was the possibility of our third overtime game in Bethune in this series. With just over two minutes left in the game Joel Kot fed the puck to Mike Reich and Reich would lift the puck over Dave Perkin’s shoulder and the Bulldogs took the lead for the second time in the game. That goal would stand up as the winner and the Bulldogs finally had their first title in 41 years. With that win the Strasbourg Maroons now hold the distinction of having the longest streak without winning the HHL Championship having last won in 1998 against the Lumsden Monarchs in six games. Yes, we used to play best of seven finals…and I do remember the Bart Cote winner in game six in Strasbourg!


Our league has now had six different champions in the last six years and has not had back to back champions since the Lumsden Monarchs accomplished that in 2001/2002. Congratulations to the Wynyard Monarchs on a great effort to defend their title. The Monarchs have a great organization and a big following of fans. Congratulations to the Bethune Bulldogs organization on an excellent year. The Bulldogs are another team with a good fan base and good corporate and community support.


Brett Leffler from the Wynyard Monarchs topped playoff scoring with 9 goals and 17 assists in eleven games played. Kyle Ross of the Bulldogs was next with 10 goals and 11 assists in eight games played. Riley Storzuk of the Monarchs had 7 goals and 11 assists and teammate Donovan Hall had 6 goals and nine assists. A trio of Bulldogs was tied for fifth. Cody Mapes from the Rockets led all scorers with three game winning goals. Chad Mazurak led all scorers with three power play goals and two shorthanded goals. Mike Reich, Lucas Ulmer and Jacob Ulmer each had 13 points in seven games played. Mason Brewster from Wynyard had a 2.00 GAA in one game played. Kevin Orthner from Raymore had a 2-1 record with a 2.33 GAA and Ryan Senft from Bethune went 3-0 in the playoffs with a 2.82 GAA. Dave Perkin from Wynyard led all goalies with 608.3 minutes played.


In Provincial play the Bethune Bulldogs had an opportunity to do what the Wynyard Monarchs did in 2014 and what the Cupar Canucks did in 2013 and that is win the League championship and the Provincial ‘A’ senior hockey title in the same year. The Bulldogs lost game one of this series with Lanigan 5-4 with a goal scored on them with just two seconds left in the game. Game two was played last Friday evening in Bethune. As great as the crowd was for the League final on Wednesday evening or the Provincial final against Eston a few years ago, this was the largest crowd I had ever seen in the Bethune rink. Early in the first period Lanigan scored and ended up taking a 1-0 lead into the second period. The Pirates took the first seven shots of the game and then the Bulldogs took the next eleven shots. In the second period Chad Filteau and Mike Reich would score for Bethune and after two periods the game was tied. Early in the third period Joel Kot would score on the power play and with their first power play goal of the series, the Bulldogs would hold off the Pirates the rest of the way and force a third and deciding game in Lanigan. On Monday evening in Lanigan there was no scoring in the first period and Chad Filteau would score in the second period to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 going into the third period. All of the third periods in this series have been interesting and this one was no different. Lanigan would score six minutes into the third period and then they would quickly score on the power play and the Pirates led 2-1 with just over twelve minutes left in the third period. Mike Reich would score on the power play with six minutes left in the game and the game was tied once again. With just under two minutes left in the period Lanigan would score and would hold on for the 3-2 win. Congratulations Pirates.


This was an excellent series and between the last two games in this series and the last two games of the league final all played in one week we were treated to some of the best senior hockey you will see. Congratulations to the Bethune Bulldogs on an excellent Provincial run.


With the season now complete, this gives me an opportunity to thank all of the volunteers throughout the league. Every team has people that work the door, work as officials in the box or are involved with the executive. The same can be said to the Managers, Coaches and league executive who also make a large commitment of time each year to run a hockey team. To our fans and especially to the players in our league thank you for your commitment and support and we all look forward to seeing you back next hockey season. To all, safe travels and have a great summer.


Gerry Tomkins


President - HHL