President's Update - March 8th, 2015

League Final set…Bethune versus Wynyard…For the third time in eight seasons the Bethune Bulldogs and Wynyard Monarchs will meet in the 49th HHL League final. Last Monday evening in Avonlea, the Bulldogs defeated the Arrows 5-1 in game two of their best of five series. Russ Nielson scored just 24 seconds into the game for the only goal of the first period. Ben Struthers would score for the Arrows early in the second period to tie game. Kyle Ross would score late in the period to restore and keep lead for the Bulldogs. Mike Reich, Carson Sinclair and Kayne Ulmer would score in the first five minutes and forty seconds of the third period and the final would be 5-1 Bulldogs. Ryan Seibel picked up the win in net for the Bulldogs and Kelley Lueck was in net for the Arrows. The Arrows had three minor penalties and the Bulldogs had four. On Wednesday evening game three was played in Bethune and it was all Bulldogs as Bethune outshot Avonlea 61-22 on their way to a 12-2 victory and punched their ticket into the League final. Lucas Ulmer had a hat trick (one PPG) while Mike Reich (one SHG) and Tyler Riche each scored twice to lead the way for the Bulldogs. Mark Lustig, Kyle Ross, Joel Kot, Dustin MacAngus and Jacob Ulmer (six point game) had the balance of the scoring for the Bulldogs. Kyle Oleniuk scored both goals for the Arrows. Ryan Senft and Ryan Seibel both had time in net for the Bulldogs with Senft picking up the win. Kelley Lueck was in net for the Arrows. The Bulldogs had six minor penalties and the Arrows had one. Congratulations to the Bulldogs for getting back to the League final and to the Arrows for one of their patented late season surges.

On Friday evening in Raymore it was another comeback win for the Wynyard Monarchs as they scored twice in the third period to pull out a 3-2 victory and win their semi-final series 3-1 and head back to the final to defend their title. Wynyard opened the scoring on a goal from Donovan Hall.  Reid Colley would score for the Rockets and the game headed to the second period tied 1-1. Godric Tham would score the only goal of the second period on the power play to give the Rockets a 2-1 lead. In the third period Matt Strueby and Tyler Shewchuk scored 33 seconds apart midway through the third period and made it 3-2 for the Monarchs. That lead would hold up and the Monarchs would win a tough series against Raymore. Dave Perkin picked up the win in net for the Monarchs and John Arscott was in net for the Rockets. Wynyard had three penalties and Raymore had two. Congratulations to the Monarchs for getting back to the final and congratulations to the Rockets on a good season.

This will be the third time in eight seasons that the Wynyard Monarchs face the Bethune Bulldogs in the League Final. Wynyard won in 2008 and last year. Wynyard also won Provincials last year following what the Cupar Canucks did in 2013. No other team in our league had won League and Provincials in the previous ten years…not since the Southey Marlins accomplished that feat. It is not that easy to do but it is a bit easier to do if you are sweeping series on both sides of the championships which Bethune has done this year.  The Bulldogs have the opportunity to be the third team in a row to win both. The Bulldogs have not lost a game since January 24th and since that time have won four league games, three playoff games and five Provincial games for a twelve game win streak. The Monarchs have won five of six playoff games to get back to defend their title. The three league games between these teams were not close games and in two of the games one team had a very short roster so it should be much better with full rosters competing in the final. Game one of this series will be Wednesday evening at 8:00 p.m. in Bethune and game two will be the following Monday, March 16th  in Wynyard at 8L30 p.m. Game three will be on Wednesday, March 18th in Bethune. Games four and five if necessary will be determined after Provincial play this weekend.

In Provincials the Avonlea Arrows defeated the Gull Lake Greyhounds 4-3 on Saturday evening in Avonlea in game one of their best of three semi-final. On Sunday afternoon in Gull Lake the Arrows fell 8-2 and will now host Gull Lake on Sunday, March 15th at 5:00 p.m. in game three for the right to be in the Provincial ‘D; final. The Arrows defeated Gull Lake 2-1 in last year’s semi-final and advanced to the final and won Provincial ‘D’ against St. Walburg. The Bethune Bulldogs opened their Provincial ‘A’ semi-final at home against the Balgonie Bisons on Saturday night and posted an 8-0 victory. The Bulldogs were in control of this game from the start with the scoring and scoring chances coming from all lines, the goaltending was good but what was most impressive was the play on the back end by all of the defencemen. The Bulldogs defence controlled the play. They kept play to the outside in their own zone and they were very quick at getting the puck out of their zone. Jake Ulmer and Kyle Ross would score twice and the balance of the scoring came from Joel Kot, Donovan Chow and Shea Van Luven. Ryan Senft stopped 25 shots to record the shut out. Game two of this series is in Balgonie on Friday, March 13th at 8:30 p.m. If a third game is required it will be played on Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. in Bethune.

Nominations for the back end of the All Star team this year include goalies Kelley Lueck (Arrows), Ryan Senft (Bulldogs), Colby Miller (Canucks), Will Hood (L Monarchs), Kevin Orthner (Rockets), Jeremy Ellis (Maroons) and David Perkin (W Monarchs). Nominations on defence are Mark Jelinski and Troy Murray from the Arrows, Russ Nielson and Ryan Funk from the Bulldogs, Davis Brown and Devin Stecyk from the Canucks, Jeff Harris and Ryan Herman from the Lumsden Monarchs, Travis Mohr and Kyle Schmalenberg from the Rockets, Kurtis Decker and Eric Schultz from the Maroons and Chad Mazurak and Cody Straker from the Wynyard Monarchs. Announcement of our All Star team and all of our Award winners will come at the end of the season.

Again we are asking anyone who was ever involved in the league to please send us an email and let us know your contact information so we can update you about possible 50th anniversary activities next year. Also if you have any interest in being involved please send an email.

Thank you for supporting the Highway Hockey League. The League Final starts Wednesday evening in Bethune and there is Provincial hockey Friday evening in Balgonie and Sunday in Avonlea. Please get out to a game near you.

Gerry Tomkins

President - HHL