President's Update - Playoff Edition


Playoff Preview from the Box – Quarter-Finals

A point of order…..I try and see as many games as I can during the season. I spend a lot of the time in the box doing Senior, Midget and Junior games and don’t always get to as many games as I would like….by the way, some of the most interesting discussions of League affairs happen in the penalty box…so…these are my observations. You won’t hear anything negative from me. As President I am unbiased in my opinions.  I have nothing but respect for the players in our league, those that are running and coaching the teams and most importantly those that volunteer for each and every game in our League. Play on…..

Avonlea Arrows (13-6-1) versus Strasbourg Maroons (8-9-3)….This series is a repeat of last year’s final. This year the Arrows took 3 of 4 games from the Maroons. The Arrows won 6-3 and 9-0 in Strasbourg and both games in Avonlea went to a shootout with each teaming claiming a victory. The Avonlea Arrows have done this year what they have always done…..they just do it a bit differently each year. This year the Arrows went through their first ten games 3-6-1. Beginning in January they reeled off ten straight wins. It must be playoff time. The Arrows have also figured out the perceived jinx of finishing as Pennant winners in the HHL. Only five teams in the last twenty years have finished first and won the League Championship and no team has done this since the 2004 Southey Marlins. Statistics really don’t mean anything when talking about the Arrows. To them what is important is winning a Championship which they have done four of the last eight years….and the Arrows have never finished first, perhaps by design. The first player that comes to mind when talking about the Avonlea Arrows is Justin Mrazek. Justin is in his fifth year as the Arrow’s goalie and each year he has been the All-Star goalie in our league.  He was the League MVP in 2009 and 2010. If there were an award for MVP in playoffs (now there’s an idea I like) he would have won that last year as the Arrows went through the playoffs without a loss. In fact the Arrows went through the playoffs with nine straight wins and scored 50 goals while only allowing 24 goals in those nine games. The last game of the playoffs was the only game where the opposition was within one goal. The Arrows are all about experience….Calvin Watson is in his ninth year and although he missed last year’s final he has played 59 playoff games and has 33 goals and 66 assists in those 59 games. Lonny Forrester played 7 games and had 14 points. Shay Neufeld in his second year has gone from 36 points last year to 44 points this year with 5 power play goals and 3 game winning goals. Neufeld had 20 points in 8 playoff games last year.  In his tenth year, Gavin Mievre had 9 goals and 22 assists. It is all about experience…Brendon Vanthuyne, James Ardelan, former league scoring champion Jared Molnar….and Cal Filson. Cal had 8 goals this year…his 12th year…he now has 385 points in regular season and has 28 points in 31 playoff games. Expect the best from our defending champions in this year’s playoffs, which would be their standard.  The Strasbourg Maroons came off an almost perfect 2011-12 campaign falling short in the final to Avonlea last year. They went through the season 19-0-1 and picked up most of the hardware at the end of the season. This year their goal production dropped from 116 goals to 92 and their goals against moved from 74 to 122. They improved on their second place penalty minutes from 249 to 196 minutes and were the lowest in the league by a wide margin. They lost last year’s MVP Neil Kodman and last year’s Sportsman trophy winner Derek Back…two players lead the scoring this year for the Maroons….Quinn McIntosh who had 32 points last year had 35 points this year with 3 power play goals and two game winning goals. Greg Ferguson also had 35 points this year with 3 power play goals. Add in Branden Sentes (27 points), Tanner Exner (23 points) and Aaron Decorby (24 points) and the Maroons scoring was still mid pack despite an increase in scoring throughout the league.  Last year’s Local MVP and All Star defenceman Eric Schultz had 8 points and Brady Heintz had 28 points to move him to 83 points in 3 years of HHL play. The Maroons are quite capable of scoring and just need to tighten up a bit in the back end. Tyler Kifferling has plenty of experience and had his busiest year in net logging 1173 minutes of play, second to Mrazek. Tyler has plenty of playoff experience dating back to when he played with the Southey Marlins. Last year the Maroons were famous for their ability to comeback just when you thought they were going to lose a game and this year….their last game against the Bulldogs being a perfect example….they have had many of those comebacks but were just a bit too far behind. The Maroons are well managed and coached and should be motivated for this series with the Arrows.


Bethune Bulldogs (11-6-3) versus Raymore Rockets (10-9-1)….I readily admit I have watched at least half of the Bulldogs games and have only seen the Rockets twice. They played twice this year with Bethune winning 8-5 in Raymore on December 21st and then Raymore winning in an improbable comeback after 8 rounds of shootout 8-7 January 26th. The Rockets were down 5-0 halfway through the first period in that game .The Bulldogs are one of the most improved teams this year.  I certainly see the chemistry working well and it is a group that has most of the pieces to be champions.  Statistically their biggest change has seen them go from last place to fourth place, score 112 goals from 75 last year and to allow 87 goals down from 109 last year.  Mike Reich has really been dynamic for the Bulldogs. Playing in just 13 games he has 25 goals and 10 assists. He has 7 power play goals, 3 shorthanded goals and 2 game winning goals and is one of the elite scorers in our league. The Ulmer brothers have carried on the tradition of the Ulmer name in the HHL when it comes to scoring (look it up)…Jacob with 40 points and Lucas with 44 points with 4 shorthanded goals scored have had their best season and when brother Kayne is available to play, it is possible to hear a goal scored by Ulmer from Ulmer and Ulmer. If I was allowed to put forward an “All-Madden” team, Captain Dustin McAngus would be on my team. He had another excellent year with 16 goals and 20 assists. He leads on and off the ice and plays with heart. Bethune also has a lot of young guys that are contributing like Ryan Fishley, Tyler Riche, Travis Holt and Derek Fuchs. Brent Becker with 22 points and Joel Kot with 22 points have also had excellent seasons. Joel Kot is an excellent defenceman, a pleasure to watch, and with the retirement of Lanny Flichel he has taken over the role of leading their blue liners. In my opinion, the biggest reason for the Bulldog’s turnaround is Ryan Seibel. Ryan is only 23 and he has played seven seasons in the HHL and has played in 113 games. I will not forget when Ryan was thrown into action against the Wynyard Monarchs in the League Championship in 2008 at the age of 17 due to injury to All Star goalie Kelly Lueck. Perhaps a slow start but he got better and did all he could in the deciding game in Wynyard losing 3-2. That is getting experience early in senior hockey. This has been his best year and to me he is more confident than ever and that is the key for any goalie.  The Bulldogs are the team this year that every playoffs has at any level when you think maybe you don’t want to run into them.  If you haven’t been to a game in Bethune, try it….the atmosphere is homey and the community has a lot of great people who support their team. The Raymore Rockets are an enigma. Yes I have said that before but they really are. This season they started with a 3-1-0 record. They proceeded to go 1-4-1 to fall to 4-7-1 and then just when you thought they were in trouble they reeled off 3 straight wins including two games where they outscored the Strasbourg Maroons 20 – 8 in two of those wins. They then finished the season winning 3 of their last 7 games.  So, which is the real Rockets team? Talk about tradition and there is tons of it in Raymore.  The Rockets have won 10 championships and have been pennant winners 9 times. Since their League Championship in 2011 when they swept the Southey Marlins in the final, the Rockets have posted back to back seasons with a 10-9-1 record.  The Rockets are led by their Captain, Todd MacMurchy, another “All-Madden” candidate who had 11 goals and 12 assists this year.  Josh Belair had another good year with 15 goals and 19 assists. In his sixth season, Belair now has 90 goals and 92 assists for 182 points in 107 regular season games. He has 28 points in 21 playoff games. Belair was the HHL All-Star Center in 2011 and is one of the best players in our league. Dallas Thiessen had an excellent season with 9 goals and 21 assists along with 3 power play goals. Shane Baum had 24 points. Josh Jordan had 29 points and now has career totals of 65 goals and 122 assists in 182 games played. Ryan Cruse had 15 points including 3 power play goals; Brett Kuglin also had 3 power play goals in his 14 points. Dale Hachkewich just finished his 15th season in the HHL. The Rockets have nothing but experience when it comes to goaltending….our goalie archival statistics do not go back as far as the scoring stats, Nathan Fischl played fewer games this year but with his 500 minutes of play Fischl moved into 4th place all-time in regular season minutes played at 6387 minutes. Who is leading the pack? Well that would be his counterpart Warren Niekamp who has played 7, 446 minutes in regular season. As a matter of interest, in goalie statistics since 1997, Niekamp needs 109 minutes of play to go by Kenric Exner in minutes played, regular season and playoffs combined. Fischl is right behind him with 8453 minutes. The Rockets have scoring, defence and a lot of experience between the pipes. The Rockets won their first playoff series against Wynyard last year before losing to the eventual champions in the semi-final three straight. The Rockets have had highs and they have had lows this past season….which Rockets team will we see in the playoffs?


Cupar Canucks (17-2-1) versus Lumsden Monarchs (1-19-0)….The Canucks are simply a complete team and a team that looks like they are having fun.Cupar won both games this season against the Monarchs, 9-2 in Lumsden and 4-2 in Cupar. At first glance, this series should be no contest. The Cupar Canucks have dominated play this season and for good reason. The goaltending duo of Jamie Wutke and Colby Miller has been strong and boasts the lowest GAA in the League, their blue line has played well and they get scoring from all directions up front. The Canucks lead the league with the best power play clicking at 29.2%. Their penalty killing unit is third at 73.8%. The Canucks are 13-0-1 when scoring first in a game. So, you don’t want to get in penalty trouble against the Canucks and you don’t want them to score first. Kyle Ross leads this team with 19 goals and 19 assists, a league leading 7 power play goals and he has scored 3 game winners. Captain Tyler Stewart has 16 goals and 16 assists along with 5 power play goals. There is more…Justin Bernhardt has 27 points in 12 games played and 60 minutes in penalties. Jaret Eberle has 9 goals and 24 assists, 4 PPG’s and has 3 game winning goals. Add in reliable scorers like former scoring leader Ryan Bahan, Donovan Chow and Shea Van Luven and there will be no shortage of shots. One of the most impressive Canucks this year has been Justin Schulhauser. Schulhauser played all 20 of the Canucks games and has 18 goals, 12 assists, 3 PPG’s and 3 game winning goals. Bottom line, the Canucks have plenty of firepower, solid goaltending and there can be a different first star every night. The Lumsden Monarchs have had a rough year if we only look at their win/loss record. Many thought with a few changes they made that they would be better than last year…a year that saw the Monarchs win their first playoff series in many years against the….Cupar Canucks. The Monarch’s play has been vastly improved in the last few weeks. They finally won their first game of the year against Southey and then they proceeded to win their Provincial ‘A’ series against Arcola/Kisbey and looked solid in doing so. They have eight losses that were by two goals or less so there is no question there were many games they were in, they needed to learn to finish these games and it appears they have that figured out. They have plenty of younger guys that are playing hard….Aulie, Preete, Whitteron, Fisher, Eberts, Hood, Anderson and Haysom. In my opinion, Jon Kress has had a solid season with 9 goals and 14 assists and 3 PPG’s. Lance Morrison, Jesse Matlock and Tyson Getzinger are no strangers to scoring and will be leading this team when the playoffs start. Recently the Monarch’s goalies have improved along with the blue liners in front of them. Trevor Thiessen played very well in the Provincial series and Jordan Weist has shown he can play in this league. The obvious is expected to happen in this series but I do expect to see some closer hockey games than some may think.


Wynyard Monarchs (15-4-1) versus Southey Marlins (5-14-1)…Steady, resilient and focused are words I think of when describing the Wynyard Monarchs. This team has not suffered a lot of downs this year and when they have they have responded. The Monarchs have the second best power play in the League with a 26.7% success rate and have had the best penalty killing unit since the first game of the year at 86%. When scoring first, the Monarchs are a perfect 12-0-0. Like the Canucks, the Monarchs are not a team you want to spend a lot of time killing penalties against nor do you want them to score first. Also, like the Cupar Canucks, the Wynyard Monarchs can score from anywhere on the ice. Brett Leffler led all scorers in the League this year with 27 goals and 28 assists and he will be the first recipient of the Tyson Sievert HHL Scoring Champion Trophy. Leffler had an astounding 8 game winning goals, led the League with Kyle Ross with 7 power play goals and also led the league with Southey’s Pat Thompson-Gale with 4 shorthanded goals. Last year’s All Star left wing Aaron Lindal had 6 goals and 22 assists and last year’s All Star right winger Bryan Kauk had another terrific year finishing second in scoring in the League with 16 goals and 29 assists. For consistency in statistics….Kauk had 2 game winning goals, 2 power play goals, 2 shorthanded goals and scored 2 goals in the first goals of a game statistic. The Monarchs lost their Captain Ryan Peterson to retirement this year but they also added some pieces that I would say were important to their success. Chad Mazurak, an All Star in this League six of the past seven years is having one of his best seasons ever with 10 goals and 17 assists along with 3 PPG’s and one shorthanded goal. He is a pleasure to watch and reminds me of Andrew Mievre in his enjoyment and passion for the position and for the game. Derek Halldorson has quietly picked up 33 points in this year’s campaign. Derek is now second all-time in League scoring (Playoffs & Regular season combined) behind Kirk Degelman and he is the all-time leader in playoff goals, assists and points. Add in scorers like Donovan Hall, Mike Kesserling, Mike Anderson, Cody Straker et al and strong goaltending from David Perkin and Jeremy Kwasny and the Wynyard Monarchs will be a difficult team for anyone to contend with in this year’s playoffs. The Southey Marlins made more changes than most teams this year and I believe have played better than a lot may have thought they would. For the Marlins, they probably would have preferred a different match up in their opening series. The Wynyard Monarchs dominated the Marlins this year. Winning by scores of 8-2, 7-4, 10-4 and 9-1 the Monarchs outscored the Marlins 34-11. There is more of a local flavour with this edition of the Marlins. The one Marlin that has made his mark this year is Pat Thompson-Gale. He has had an all-star year recording 23 goals and 13 assists and had 3 power play goals and 4 shorthanded goals. Shay Wirll had 17 points this year and had 2 game winning goals in his totals. Elliot Hubick has had a solid year with 17 points that included 2 power play goals. Evan Mohr, Nelson Davis, Shane Flaman have also been key to the Marlins success. Ryan Senft has been a work horse for the Marlins this year logging 916 minutes of time in net. Ryan has now played in 55 games in our league and has played 13 playoff games so there is plenty of experience in net for the Marlins. The Marlins power play efficiency is at 12.9% but they have scored 7 shorthanded goals this year and have only allowed one shorthanded goal all season…a season when we saw 40 shorthanded goals in 80 games played. If the Marlins want to upset the Monarchs in this series they need to find a way to win away from their home rink as they only won one game on the road this past year. The Marlins have a long tradition of success in our league and recently won their opening Provincial series against Langenburg. The Marlins will do what they always do…and that is play hard.


Provincials Update

Provincial ‘A’

Cupar Canucks – The Canucks lost to LeRoy on Saturday evening 5-3 in LeRoy and played game three of their series on Sunday evening in Cupar. With the score tied at one after two periods, the Canucks would get two goals from Jaret Eberle and a goal from Justin Bernhardt in the third period and go on to a 4-1 victory. The Canucks now play the Balcarres Broncs.

Lumsden Monarchs – The Lumsden Monarchs played game three of their series with the Arcola/Kisbey Combines on Saturday evening in Arcola. The Monarchs led 3-1 after one period with two goals from Tyson Getzinger and a goal from Zak Anderson. Brett Matlock scored in the second period and then Austen Preete scored in the third period to make the final 5-2 Monarchs. Lumsden will now play the Midale Mustangs.

Wynyard Monarchs – The Wynyard Monarchs swept the Dalmeny Fury with a second game 5 – 2 victory in Dalmeny on Saturday evening. Scoring came from five different scorers for the Monarchs….Donovan Hall, Derek Halldorson, Brett Leffler, Aaron Lindal and Bryan Kauk. Wynyard will now play the Rosthern Wheat Kings.

Raymore Rockets – The Rockets lost to the Balcarres Broncs on Wednesday evening 4-3 and then came back with a 7-4 victory on Saturday evening in Balcarres. On Sunday evening Balcarres jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one period and went on to defeat the Rockets 5-2 and win the series 2-1. Balcarres now play the Cupar Canucks.

Provincial ‘C’

Southey Marlins – The Southey Marlins were down one goal in their series with the Langenburg Warriors and on Sunday evening defeated the Warriors 7-3 in Langenburg and won their series 11-8. The Marlins now play the Radville Nationals.

Provincial ‘D’

Avonlea Arrows – The Avonlea Arrows defeated the Frontier Flyers on Sunday in Frontier 5-3. The Arrows won their series 15-5. Avonlea will now play the Craik Warriors.

Bethune Bulldogs – Down 4-1 after their game in Bredenbury, the Bulldogs exploded for five goals in the first period on their way to a 10-4 victory over the Cougars. Lucas Ulmer had three goals and Mike Reich had four goals to lead the way for the Bulldogs. Bethune will now play the Odessa Bruins.

Six of our eight teams have advanced to the next round of Provincials after this past weekend’s play. All provincial schedules are now posted under the “provincials” tab and are listed under “Upcoming Games”.

Thank you for supporting the HHL….there is lots of hockey to watch…see you at the rink.

Gerry Tomkins

President – HHL

Keep current on HHL games and HHL teams playing in Provincials on Twitter by using either or both of the following accounts… and from our new account