Photo: Ryan Sawatzky
With the first round of the MJHL Playoffs well underway, let’s take a deeper dive into each series.
MGEU East Division
- (1) Portage Terriers vs (4) Niverville Nighthawks
Terriers lead best-of-seven series tied 2-0
Game one needed double overtime before the Terriers could find a way to wrestle the victory away from the claws of a very determined Nighthawks club, who showed they can hang with the best in the league.
With a solid period and a half under the belts and in control, a scary moment changed the complexion of the game as it became more about the well-being of a player then about a hockey game.
Thankfully, the Terriers have put out that the player is going to make a full recovery.
Looking like they were buried, the young and hungry Niverville club managed to score a pair of third period goals to force overtime where the Terriers stood up and grabbed a game they felt was theirs all along, taking a 1-0 series lead.
In game two, again the Nighthawks went stride for stride but the Terriers proved to be just too much to handle over the course of the entire game.
Portage ran away from the CRRC with another win, scoring a couple five on five, one on a power play and even a shorthanded goal to head home up 2-0.
Keys So Far
Portage – They are getting contributions from up and down the lineup and much like in the regular season, their defenders are coming up huge on the scoresheet and throughout the game. If the Terriers get an inch, they take a mile. The margins are razor thin in the playoffs and no one knows that better than the Terriers who will make teams and opposing players pay for mistakes. Elite fire power that can go off at any time and either bring the team back or put the team too far out in front to catch.
Niverville – They’ve shown they have the toughness and the heart to make their opponent play near-perfect hockey to beat them. They have been right there in both games. There’s still little pressure on the team despite being down 2-0 in the series and they can use that to their advantage. Go out on the road and if they can keep mistakes to a minimum and capitalize on the chances they earn, they can start planting a seed of doubt.
Hayden Lacquette – 3 goals, 1 assist for 4 points
Mike Stubbs – 3 goals for 3 points
Josh Paulhus – 2 goals, 1 assist for 3 points
Braden Panzer – 1 goal, 2 assists for 3 points
MGEU East Division
- (2) Steinbach Pistons vs (3) Winkler Flyers
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1
The first two games have been everything the fans on both sides could have hoped for and more.
Physical, tense, drama filled, timely goals paired with incredible saves. This series has been a battle and a half through two games.
Game one saw both teams grab leads only to have their opponents battle back to tie it up.
Overtime gave the chance for the Flyers to steal game one and they took full advantage leaving the home fans stunned in an epic 5-4 win.
Steinbach answered the bell in game two and ruined the home fans party, just like the Flyers did the night before.
Managing to find the line between physical and disciplined, the Pistons came out and did what they needed to do, even if it got a little closer in the third then they would have liked. A gutsy team win on the road to even a series that neither team is backing down from.
Whatever Winkler or Steinbach has earned so far has been done the hard way. There has not been an easy shift in the series so far.
Keys So Far
Steinbach – The depth up front gives Steinbach wave after wave of attack while the forwards have also bought in on the defensive side, paying the price to get pucks along the boards. Quickly moving the puck out of the zone has allowed Steinbach to limit time spent defensively but also got them some great chances on the rush. The physical play has brought out the best in a number of players who have elevated their game.
Winkler– Using their size down below the hashmarks, the Flyers have had their opponent running around a number of times which has led to offense. A couple times this series, they’ve been able to complete at least a partial change while still holding onto the puck in the offensive zone. Winkler has also shown they are more than willing to get in the lanes and block shots. They don’t care what it takes out of them, they’ll do it. Also, they not afraid to ramp things up physically. The Flyers will keep leaning on players every chance they get.
Ty Paisley – 1 goal, 3 assists for 4 points
Travis Hensrud/Dawson Milliken – 1 goal, 2 assists for 3 points
Mike Svenson – 4 assists for 4 points
Zach Nicholas – 2 goals, 1 assist for 3 points