Clippers sink in semifinal sweep by Swan Valley

Published on Tuesday, 14 March 2023 07:59

The season is over for the Dauphin Clippers hockey team.

The Clippers were swept in their best-of-three Westman High School Hockey League semifinal series by the Swan Valley Tigers.

Swan Valley scored a 2-1 victory in game one, Mar. 7 in Dauphin.

Eli Betcher and Bailey Hunt scored for the Tigers, while Jake Kuzmiak replied for Dauphin.

Owen Martyniuk started in goal for the Tigers and made seven saves before leaving with an injury. Nate Immerkar stopped 33 shots in relief.

Owen Chubka made 28 saves in the loss.

Swan Valley completed the sweep with a 4-1 win in game two, Sunday in Swan River.

Jackson Buchanan gave the Clippers a 1-0 lead after the first period, but that was all the offence they could muster.

Hunt and Tucker Thompson put Swan Valley in front after 40 minutes and Trace Langan and Kash Henkelman scored to seal the win in the third period.

Immerkar made 30 saves for the Tigers, while Chubka finished with 17 saves.

Swan Valley will play the winner of the series between the Neepawa Tigers and Killarney/Wawanesa Raiders. That series is tied 1-1, with game three tonight in Killarney.

In between those games, the Clippers traveled to Winnipeg, Friday, for provincials.

The Clippers came up against the top ranked Garden City Gophers in their opening game, with the Gophers scoring three times in the third period to snap a 2-2 tie and skating to a 5-2 victory.

William Miner and Buchanan had Dauphin’s goals.

The second game of the day, saw the Clippers fall to the fourth-ranked team in the province, the Steinbach Regional Sabres.

Playing their second game in a matter of hours, the Clippers ran out of gas, falling 5-1, with Kuzmiak scoring Dauphin’s lone goal.

Any time you don’t win your final game when you’re in the playoffs, it is a disappointing way to end the season, according to Clippers manager Jason Alf.

“But I can’t fault the guys for the way they played in the last series. They worked hard. I think we were the better team for most of those two games. We just, for whatever reason, we found a bad time to go into a scoring drought,” he said.
As for provincials, Dauphin ran into penalty problems against Garden City, which took advantage, scoring four power-play goals.

“There was quite a few, what I like to call phantom calls in that one. We played them twice and gave up nine goals, seven of which were power plays,” Alf said. “We put all our gas into that one and it left us a little empty.”

That was expected given the quick turn around from their first game. The Clippers gave it their all against the Gophers, then had a brief respite while another game took place, before they hit the ice against Steinbach.

“So not much time to rest. We didn’t have time to go anywhere to eat and Steinbach came in fresh and they looked like a team that was well rested,” Alf said.

Looking back on the season, Alf feels it was a success following a second-place finish in the league standings.

“I don’t think any of us really expected that going into the season to be second place with the five losses and overtime loss and the second lowest goals against, which was another bonus,” he said. “We weren’t sure how the scoring was going to work, because we didn’t have a lot of scoring stars, per se, but we had a lot of hard workers and we spread it around.”

The Clippers will lose about half of their team to graduation, so next season is expected to be a rebuilding year.

“But there’s lots of good players in the area and, as usual, we’ll see what’s coming in the fall. But we hope to be back there in the top eight,” Alf said.

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