President's Update - Groundhog Day

It’s Groundhog Day and the regular season ends this week….

“Okay campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ‘cause it’s cold out there today…”

Yup, it’s Groundhog Day and that means the regular season is almost over as we have two games left in the regular season on Tuesday in Avonlea and Bethune on Wednesday evening.  I’m not aware of any hockey teams named after the rodent Groundhog…although the Hershey Bears of the AHL did wear special Groundhog jerseys on Sunday….who would name their hockey team after a rodent anyway? Well, one of Canada’s national emblems is North America’s largest rodent…the Beaver. There is the Minot State Beavers hockey team.  There are a multitude of teams in professional hockey named from the animal kingdom…..Mallards, Jackals, Hogs, Steelheads, Silvertips, Killer Bees…some are not animals we have never seen like…the Raptor… or are of the mythical variety like the Jackalope. I am not aware of any Groundhog teams. Bottom line is that it will soon be spring which means its playoff time…and… pitchers and catchers report in two weeks and the deck is ready….

First place in the Highway Hockey League will come down to one game on Wednesday evening in Bethune when the Bulldogs host the Wynyard Monarchs. The Monarchs will finish third and will play the southern Monarchs in the first round of playoffs. If Wynyard defeats the Bulldogs then Strasbourg will finish first place. If Bethune picks up at least a point then they will finish first place. The second place team will face the Avonlea Arrows and the third series will see the Raymore Rockets play the Cupar Canucks. The first place team will have a bye into the semi-finals.

The Bethune Bulldogs are one point away from clinching first place after three wins this week. On Wednesday they defeated the Strasbourg Maroons 5-4, the Avonlea Arrows 5-2 and the Cupar Canucks 10-1. Against the Maroons, the Bulldogs had a 2-1 lead after one period and a 3-2 lead after two periods only to see the Maroons score twice in the third period to take the lead but with three minutes left in the game Kyle Ross scored on the power play to tie the game and then one minute later Dustin MacAngus scored the winner.  Joel Kot and Jacob Ulmer with two goals (1 ppg) accounted for the rest of the Bethune scoring. Eric Schultz scored twice (1 ppg) for the Maroons. Mitch McNish and Sean Delwo scored the other goals for the Maroons. Ryan Senft stopped 30 shots for the win while Jeremy Ellis stopped 45 of 50 shots fired his way for the Maroons. Bethune had nine minor penalties and Strasbourg had six. On Friday evening the Bulldogs were in Avonlea. The Arrows had a 1-0 lead after one period off a James Dombowsky goal. In the second period Calvin Watson gave the Arrows a 2-0 lead. The Bulldogs would then score three times in five minutes to take the lead into the third period. Second period goals came from Derek Fuchs, Mike Reich and Joel Kot with a shorthanded goal. In the third period Reich picked up his second goal of the game and Jacob Ulmer scored to make the final 5-2. Ryan Seibel picked up the win in net for the Bulldogs and Kelley Lueck was in net for the Arrows. The Arrows had four minor penalties and the Bulldogs had seven. On Saturday evening the Bulldogs went into Cupar and beat the Canucks 10-1. Kyle Ross scored twice, Mike Reich and Joel Kot scored on the power play while Dustin MacAngus, Russ Nielson, Dan Loffler, Mitch Boucher, Shea Van Luven and Jacob Ulmer would score even strength goals. Chad Filteau scored for Cupar. Filteau is fifth in league scoring with 31 points. Ryan Senft picked up the win in net for the Bulldogs and Tanner Kehler was in net for the Canucks. The Bulldogs were assessed two minor penalties and a misconduct and the Canucks had five minor penalties and a misconduct.

On Tuesday evening there were two games played. The Avonlea Arrows picked up their first win of the year with a 4-3 overtime win against the Cupar Canucks. The Arrows led 1-0 after one period, 3-2 after two periods. A goal from Taylor Orr in the third period gave the Canucks a 3-3 tie and forced overtime. In overtime Stuart Holland would get the winner for the Arrows. Mark Jelinski, Kyle Oleniuk and Josh Jelinski had the other goals for the Arrows. Cody Hall and Travis Hall had the other goals for the Canucks. Kelley Lueck picked up the win in net for the Arrows and Colby Miller was in net for the Canucks. Cody Hall and Travis Hall had the other goals for the Canucks.  The Canucks had two minor penalties in the first period and the Arrows had one minor penalty in the second period. There have been seven overtime games in the HHL this year. The Cupar Canucks have been in five of those games. They won two games and lost three. One of their victories was in a shootout. Also on Tuesday evening the Wynyard Monarchs completed the season sweep of the Lumsden Monarchs with an 8-0 victory in Lumsden. David Perkin picked up the win in net with 15 saves in the first two periods. Mason Brewster shared in the shutout with 14 saves in the third period. At the other end of the ice Kurtis Sollosy faced 50 Wynyard shots. Donovan Hall and Matt Strueby led the way for Wynyard with two goals each. One of Strueby’s goals was on power play. Eric Popadynec, Brett Leffler, Dale Spelchen and Chad Mazurak with a shorthanded goal provided the balance of the Wynyard scoring. Each team was assessed five minor penalties.

There was one other game in the league on Saturday evening and that game went to a shootout. Todd MacMurchy scored with just under two minutes left in the game on the power play to give the Raymore Rockets a tie in this game. Nothing was solved in overtime. Jory Miller would score the winner in the shootout for the Maroons and they would win 5-4. Greg Ferguson with his league leading 19th goal, Evan Meyers and two goals from Mitch McNish would supply the Maroons scoring. Godric Tham scored twice for the Rockets. Also scoring for Raymore were Nelson Davis and Todd MacMurchy. Tyler Kifferling stopped 46 shots sent his way to earn the win for the Maroons. Kevin Orthner was in net for the Rockets and he stopped 33 shots.  Strasbourg had two minor penalties and Raymore had one.

In Provincial play…it was not a banner week for HHL teams… the Raymore Rockets lost to the Davidson Cyclones 7-3 on Friday evening and lost their ‘A’ series two games to none. The Strasbourg Maroons lost 4-1 to the Balcarres Broncs in Provincial ‘A’ action on Thursday evening and lost their series two games to one. On Saturday evening in another Provincial ‘A’ series the defending Provincial ‘A’ champion Wynyard Monarchs lost 3-2 to the Bruno T-Birds and that series is going to a game three in Wynyard on Monday evening. This Saturday evening the Lumsden Monarchs open up their Provincial ‘C’ series against the Eatonia Huskies in Lumsden at 8:00 p.m. On Sunday the Avonlea Arrows begin defence of their Provincial “D” title as they play host to the Central Butte Flyers at 5:00 p.m.  The Bethune Bulldogs will start their Provincial ‘A’ second round series as early as this weekend playing against the Bruno/Wynyard series winner. HHL Provincial schedules and results are posted here.

The 2014-15 scoring race for the Tyson Sievert Trophy comes down to four players that are playing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Brett Leffler from Wynyard leads the league with 16 goals and 22 assists for 38 points. Right behind him is Mike Reich from the Bethune Bulldogs with 36 points. Tied with Reich is Michael Jordan from the Rockets.  Kyle Ross from the Bulldogs is fourth with 34 points. Ryan Senft from the Bulldogs leads all goalies with a 2.11 GAA. Senft is a perfect 9-0-0 in regular season play for the Bulldogs. Jeremy Ellis of the Maroons is next with a 2.92 GAA and has a n 8-2-0 record.  David Perkin from Wynyard leads all goalies with 1000 minutes played and 12 wins.

Please note that the Highway Hockey twitter feed is now on our main page for your convenience….so you don’t have to be on twitter to get the updates from our league. The Highway Hockey feed will show all tweets sent from our feed. You will get our new “mobile view” on your handhelds….there is an option at the bottom of the page to go to a desktop view. If you prefer you can just follow us: on the Pensky File

Thank you for supporting the Highway Hockey League. There are Provincial games this weekend and our first round playoff games will be posted on Thursday. Please get out to a game near you.

Gerry Tomkins

President - HHL