Dauphin Kings captain Owen Wareham, left, and OCN Blizzard captain Riley Zimmerman took part in the traditional Ukrainian greeting featuring the presentation of bread, salt and wheat prior to the game, Friday, during the annual Ukrainian Night.
A crowd of 1,994 fans took in the festivities, which included dance recitals by local Ukrainian dance groups, Boris Nowasad and the Melody Kings greeting fans as they entered Credit Union Place and the ever popular kielbasa toss and mattress races.
Fans were sent home happy after the Kings won the game, 5-2.
No team has been able to pull away in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s tight MGEU West Division.
With four straight wins, the Dauphin Kings are tied with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines and Swan Valley Stampeders atop the division with 51 points each, while the OCN Blizzard are just two points back and the Virden Oil Capitals are creeping up, sitting two back of OCN for the final playoff spot and only four points out of first place.
The Kings swept a weekend twinbill over the Blizzard, winning Friday’s Ukrainian Night game, 5-2, before scoring a 2-1 win, Sunday.
Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley pointed out the Kings have the most wins of any team in the division with 24.
“How crazy is that. Three at 51. One at 49. One at 47. Four points between first and out of the playoffs,” he said.
Friday’s Ukrainian Night contest provided the best atmosphere Hedley has ever seen at a Kings game.
“Sold out seats and standing room. It was really good,” he said.
After the first 10 minutes of Friday’s game, Hedley felt the Kings started using their speed to get pucks up ice.
“Before that, we were trying to beat somebody, carrying the puck instead of moving it up ice and then using our speed. After the (media) timeout, we settled in and got on our toes,” he said. “We were first to pucks a lot on the forecheck. And then created some great chances. Our power play was good on Friday. We had some net-front presence, unlike tonight (Sunday).”
Hedley was pleased with the patience the team showed in Sunday’s win.
“We weren’t giving up many chances. Our power play could have stepped up a little bit, especially in the second period, but they did in the third and we found a way to get it done,” he said.
Twenty-year-old goalie Dmytro Kubritskyi made his Kings debut, Friday, making 30 saves in the victory. Sunday’s starter, Cole Sheffield, picked up his third straight win in which he only allowed one goal.
“He’s definitely a guy that we’re happy with. And then what can you say about (Kubritskyi’s) first start. He was outstanding. He made some good saves and made it look easy,” Hedley said.
The Kings will face the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s newest franchise, the Niverville Nighthawks, Friday in Dauphin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday in Niverville at 3 p.m.
“They’re fighting for a playoff spot, as well. They’re seven ahead of the Blues,” Hedley said. “I know they’re a hard working team. They play very well, with good structure. They’re well coached. And we know they’re going to come at us hard. They’ve got some good talent there. It’s going to be a hard weekend.”
With so much video now available, teams are familiar with their opponents even without playing each other. So the Kings will familiarize themselves with Niverville and how they play.
“The biggest thing for us is to focus on what we do well. When we play fast, use our speed and separate guys from pucks and our back pressure with guys standing up, and just focusing on transition and using our speed to go on two-on-ones and odd man rushes, if we stay structured through the neutral zone, we’re a tough team to beat,” Hedley said.
The Dauphin Kings remain in the midst of the tight race in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s MGEU West Division.
After dropping a 4-0 decision to the OCN Blizzard, Tuesday in OCN, the Kings swept and home-and-home with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines, 5-1, Friday in Dauphin, and 3-1, Saturday in Waywayseecappo.
As a result, Dauphin enters the week in a three-way tie for second place with the Wolverines and Swan Valley Stampeders, two points behind OCN.
Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley said the team took a step back in the game against OCN.
“The structure wasn’t there. The stick-to-itiveness, the trust in the process. We just didn’t battle hard enough. You’ve got to give OCN credit. They came at us hard. They used their speed,” he said. “We weren’t real tough to play against.”
After some good practices during the week, the Kings were able to rebound with a pair of solid efforts against the Wolverines.
“Wayway is a very good hockey club. They’re well coached. We played like we had to. We were responsible away from the puck. We didn’t leave a lot of chances on the rush. And then, if we didn’t (Cole) Sheffield had two great games and was outstanding,” Hedley said.
Last season, Swan Valley finished in fourth place, the last playoff spot, with 22 wins. Entering this week’s games, Neepawa is the only team within the division with fewer than 20 victories, sitting at 17.
Hedley figures 30 wins will be needed to get into the playoffs.
This weekend, the Kings will host the Blizzard, Friday for Ukrainian Night at 7:30 p.m., and again on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Hedley is looking forward to the weekend contests.
“We’re going to have some good practices this week and really focus on OCN. Any kind of tendencies we’re looking for, we’ll pass on the our players and get them prepared as good as we can. All it is is staying on our toes and playing to the best of our abilities,” he said.
The Parkland Rangers showed what hard work can accomplish by earning three of a possible four points over the weekend.
After starting the week with a 6-4 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings, Parkland snapped a 10-game losing skid with a convincing 7-3 win over the Eastman Selects, Saturday.
Eastman got a measure of revenge on Sunday, beating the Rangers, 5-4 in overtime.
Parkland got off to a slow start against Brandon, falling behind, 4-1 after the opening 20 minutes, but rebounded to make a game of it, pulling to within a goal with under a minute to play.
Rangers head coach Tyler Carefoot said there was a lot for the team to be proud of in the three games.
“There’s lots to feel good about,” he said. “We teased the fellas a little bit, it’s almost like we’re peaking almost two months too late. But when you’re a young roster, it takes a little bit longer to be ready to execute and be ready every shift. But I think now we’re starting to see what the future holds for our program.”
The Rangers were noticeably active with their sticks in the defensive zone, part of the team’s commitment to team defence.
“That’s all about being responsible to team defence, to sticks in lanes, getting into shooting lanes, D side of the puck. And I think almost to a player, we are doing that,” Carefoot said. “And I think for any player, if we’re going to trust you, it starts with D.”
The whole team played well, which allowed Carefoot to use the entire roster. Players, he added, are starting to feel good about themselves.
Sunday’s game was the first time newcomer Havryil Simchuk did not get on the scoresheet. He had five goals and four assists in his first six games with Parkland before getting shutout on Sunday.
“He just adds depth. He’s a strong player and we’re leaning in him a lot and he’s doing really well,” Carefoot said.
The Rangers hit the road for two games this weekend against the Pembina Valley Hawks, Friday and Saturday in Morden.
The Hawks are currently third in the league with a 23-7-5-0 record. Their 51 points has them four points behind the Winnipeg Bruins.
The Rangers, Carefoot said, match up well with the Hawks. The two teams split a pair of games in Dauphin in early November.
“If we keep competing they way we have been the last five or six games, I think we’ll hang in there and who knows what will happen,” he said. “It’s just nice coming to the rink. The kids are smiling. Nobody really has a piano on their back right now.”
With nine games left to play, Parkland is 14 points out of a playoff spot. So, although they are not officially eliminated from the playoffs, their chances are slim, leaving them to play spoiler, something they are having fun with.
“I think this group is proving in most games we don’t quit. We just keep working. But just to go out and compete just for the spirit of the game, I think that’s what we’re focused on,” he said.
Basketball enthusiasts in Ste. Rose will have a court of their own to play on by year’s end.
The only basketball courts currently available are the courts located at the school and they have restricted use during school hours. And they are also set up for children in Grades 6 and under, so are small and they are also in disrepair.
And because of the court’s location, it is often flooded in the springtime.
So a group of local residents, spearheaded by some local youth, have begun fund-raising to build a new basketball facility, which will promote health and wellness in the community.
David Hopfner of the fund-raising committee said there is a big interest in the sport in the community.
“And we don’t have basketball courts for the older kids, the high school kids and adults. So we were thinking something like that was needed for our community,” he said.
Strilkiwski Contracting has been secured as the general contractor for the project, with a location yet to be determined. The group is working with the Municipality of Ste. Rose and Turtle River School Division on a tentative location and they hope to have that finalized soon.
“It’s just a matter of getting all the legalities out of the way,” Hopfner said.
The group is beginning it’s fund-raising phase, looking for community support. They are looking for individuals or businesses that would be interested in participating in a field of dreams project, either donating seed, chemical, fertilizer, or custom work. Cash sponsorship levels are also set and they are looking for anyone interested in assisting the construction phase of the project, which includes landscaping, fencing, electrical and gravel hauling, working in conjunction with the general contractors.
All contributions to the project, whether it’s a cash gift or in-kind will be acknowledged as sponsors of the project.
Plans for fund-raising activities are still in the early planning stages, Hopfner said.
“Some of our committee is going to get together and proceed forward with certain events we feel that will help us out,” he said.
Donations can be made to “The Court Project” and mailed care of Derek Brunel, Box 658 Ste Rose, MB, R0L 1S0.
Hopfner feels the new court will be good for the community.
“It should be well used,” he said, adding flyers will be sent out through the mail.
The plan is to break ground this spring, with construction of the court to completed by the fall.
Open Mic Night returned to the Watson Arts Centre’s Old Fire Hall, Friday, with several local musicians taking to the stage.
The well-attended event was the first of the new year. The next Open Mic Night takes place, Feb. 17.
Carberry’s Kevin Elliott takes a shot in the gold medal final against the Morden Hawks at the Fusion Credit Union U13 Silver Smash Hockey Tournament, Sunday.
Morden won the gold with an exciting 3-2 win over Carberry.
The host Dauphin Kings finished third, while the Fort Garry Flyers were fourth.
Other teams taking part with two teams from St. James and Brandon, Transcona and Seven Oaks.
The Dauphin Kings played just one game last week, but the two points picked up in the 4-3 win over the Swan Valley Stampeders on Wednesday was enough to keep them in third place in the highly competitive MGEU West Division.
Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley said the Kings started off okay for a road game.
“I think our second period was outstanding. We put pressure on and dumped with speed and just created (opportunities). I thought we played a great road game. We were very good defensively. We got some big saves from Marko (Belak) when we need them. And then played solid defensively in the third period,” he said.
It was the only game scheduled for the Kings last week due to a quirk in the schedule. Dauphin used the time off for a team building ice fishing expedition on Lake Dauphin, thanks to Scott McCallum, Dwayne Swanton and Joey Pasternak.
“We’re hoping we can improve the schedule next year. But for now it’s just the way it is,” Hedley said, adding OCN was in the same boat with no games scheduled between Jan. 7 and Jan. 17, when they host the Kings.
Get the full story in this week's Herald!
Dauphin Minor Baseball Association is hosting baseball training sessions, Sundays at the Parkland Crossing gymnasium.
Teams in the U13 (pictured here) and U15 are hitting the gym every second Sunday to work on their skills in preparation for the upcoming season.
The U11 age group will begin its workouts in March.
They didn’t come away with any victories, but the Parkland Rangers arguably played their best games of the season, this past weekend in Winnipeg.
Kyler Swanton made 36 saves in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Wild on Saturday, then stopped another 32 shots in a 6-5 overtime loss, Sunday afternoon.
Rangers head coach Tyler Carefoot said it was arguably the most successful weekend the team has had as a group this season.
“It just came down to commitment to team defence, some guts and just competing. That’s the expectation. And after the second game, I straight up said, that’s what we’ve been looking for all season,” he said. “If we keep playing like this, as hard as it is, we’ll be a tough out, but I also think we’ll probably win a few games, too. Hopefully this can end up being the turning point for this group.”
Swanton had his best games of the season, which Carefoot said was nice to see.
“It’s safe to say, he’d be the first guy to tell you that he’s been a little off throughout the season. But for him to come back, especially after nursing an injury the week before, he was just solid,” he said.
Luke Myhre had a strong weekend, netting three goals and an assist in the two games. Carefoot said he was the best player on the ice for both teams.
“For a 15-year-old, he plays a 200-foot game. He’s a power forward who takes key faceoffs matched up against the opponent’s best. He not only produced on the game sheet, but more importantly, he had an impact everywhere in both games,” he said. “To get two points versus a championship caliber program feels great for everyone, players, coaches and parents.”
Havryil Simchuk, the Ukrainian-born player, had another strong weekend, scoring a goal in each game. He now has points in all four games he has played.
“He adds some more depth and he was good. He’s responsible and you can count on him to make the right play and moving the puck around, too,” Carefoot said. “It’s just exciting. It’s nice to be in a meaningful game and it’s nice, as a coach, to pull strings, to get the right pieces on the ice in certain times. And the players themselves, they were in a battle and I think they all felt good about it.”
Carefoot hopes the team can keep the momentum going when they host the Brandon Wheat Kings, tonight at 7:30 p.m., and the Eastman Selects, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
“If we can just keep battling, I think we’ll be alright,” he said.