Dauphin, Canada

Statistically, the MJHL has been owned this season by the Swan Valley Stampeders and Portage Terriers. Those are the two teams that are atop the league heading into this weekend. As far as individual points go, the MJHL has been dominated by Swan River's and former Parkland Ranger Josh Tripp.

The 20-year-old is having a dominating season for the Stampeders. A by far career year. He's got 54 points already through 34 games. That's 12 points more than Matt Osadick, who also plays on Josh's line.

"It's honestly a pretty awesome feeling, it's already my best ever junior season, and it's just half over," said Tripp. "It's even better that I get to do it at home. It's just a great feeling."

For as long as Josh can remember, playing for the Stampeders was a dream of his. The Tripp family has been season ticket holders since the Stampeders' inaugural campaign in the 1999-2000 season. 19 years later, Tripp is living his dream. It just so happens that it comes during one of the best Stampeders' seasons in franchise history.

"Playing at home is the biggest reason I decided to stay here, and wanted to come back when I wasn't here," said Tripp. "It's a great feeling to play in front of my family and friends. It's been extra fun this year with all the success we're having as a team."

"I've always put up a decent amount of numbers and I knew I wanted to bump that up this year," said Tripp, who had a previous career-high of 47 points with Swan Valley in the 2015-16 season. "I'm off to a good start here. I didn't think I would be this hot early, but I'm super happy about it."

Not only is Josh turning out to be a superstar on the ice, but he's a celebrity off the ice in the valley, and that's something he's enjoying. "Anytime someone sees me outside, they'll come and say hey and sort of talk about the season,"

Of course, this isn't the first season that Josh has played with his hometown team. Besides that 47 point season back a few years ago, Josh also played for the team last season. Sandwiched in between that was a 70-game stint with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The 20-year-old left-winger returned to the NAHL to start this season with Jamestown. He played one game for them before coming back home, and the rest has turned out to be history.

Josh has a firm grip on the MJHL scoring race. That's something he hopes he can finish out in his final junior hockey season, but most of all, he just wants the Stampeders' to win games.

"My expectation is just to keep up the pace I have going on right now," said Tripp. "I just want to help this team win games every time out. Obviously putting up 100 points and winning the scoring title is in my sight, but I just want this team to win. That's the most important thing.

Josh and the Stampeders' play 27 more regular season games. Right now, Josh is averaging 1.59 points per game. If he keeps up with the pace he's on right now, Tripp would record just under 43 more points through the end of the regular season. That total would have him at 96, based on where he's at now. The last person to record more than that in an MJHL season with Jeremey Leipsic. He had 100 in the 2016-17 season and he won the scoring title. Dexter Kuczek led the league last year with 92 points. 

Those 54 points have come in a bunch of wins for the team. Swan Valley is 22-6-3-2 and that's good enough for second in the MJHL. They're one point behind the Portage Terriers, a team they beat at the MJHL Showcase earlier this week.

"We're playing really well and It's really exciting to be a part of this group," added Tripp. "We just came off a big win against Portage and that was huge for us. We're looking to make a big push here and make even more noise."

"I want to bring a Championship to Swan River, this community deserves it," he added. "Hopefully we can keep it up and make something special happen."

Josh and the team welcome the Steinbach Pistons to town on Saturday. The two play a heavyweight two-game series.

Going into the season, the Parkland Bantam Rangers weren't sure how it would turn out. Not because they didn't have the skill, but the club didn't have much experience. Only two players returned from last year's bronze medal at the Rural AAA Provincials. 

The team still shows signs of not having a ton of experience at times, but, they have a ton of heart and the whole team is showing they have the abilities to play at this level. That's why the season has been a pretty good one for the club. The team is 5-9, but they've turned the season around with a recent streak of good games. They won three games in a row in mid-November.

Parkland than alternated wins and ties for the next four games. The team's recent strong play has them just five points behind the Southwest Cougars for second.

"Things have been going pretty well, we played that three in three a couple weeks ago and played three of the top city teams, and we competed very well," said Tom White, Head Coach. "We then played the top Monarchs again last week and we blew two-2 goal leads and lost 5-3. That game really showed the importance of playing a full-60 minutes."

"We're progressing and the guys are adapting to the size, speed, and skill of the league," he added. "It was hard for some guys because they were stars in house league and then they came here and there is a bunch of guys who are just as good. We're learning how to play a full structured game. The guys are buying in and the results are starting to show."

The Rangers have a great opportunity to jump up in the standings this week. They play another three games in three days, and all of the games come on home ice. Tomorrow, the Rangers welcome the fourth place Pembina Valley Hawks to town. The game will be at Credit Union Place, and the puck drops at 7:30.

On Saturday, the Rangers head to Grandview at 5:00 p.m. to play the second place Southwest Cougars. On Sunday, the Rangers play the Central Plains Capitals in Roblin at 3:30. The Capitals are in third place. All in all, the Rangers could end up in second place after the weekend if all goes perfectly.

"I think we're going into this weekend pretty confident," said White. "We've been making some adjustments at practices and we're always working on things that need to be worked on. It's a huge weekend for us."

The regular season is important for any team to work out any kinks and improve each day. But, the big prize comes not long from now when the Rangers will play in the AAA Rural Provincial Championships once again. Last year, the team won bronze. This year, they're hoping to do better.

"We're better than we were at the start of the season, and we're expecting to get better," said White. "The guys know they have to earn things out here. If we continue to work hard and compete for a full 60-minutes, there is no reason we can't challenge for a gold medal."

Not only is Bantam AAA hockey a new thing for a ton of the Ranger players. But, it's also a new experience for Tom. He's been an assistant coach at the AAA level before, but he's never been a Head Coach at the AAA level.

"I'm enjoying it immensely for sure," said White. "It's been great working with these young guys and watching them develop throughout the season. It really is gratifying."

After this weekend, the Rangers will play two home games next weekend in Russell.

The Dauphin Kings met with the Portage Terriers for the second time this season earlier today, and it was a lot better than the first. 

But the game still ended up in a defeat for the Kings as they lost 4-3.

It was Bryon Fobair who opened up the scoring for Dauphin just 48 seconds into the second. Portage would then tie it.

Cole DeKoninck regained Dauphin’s lead at the 12:28 mark. The Terriers pretty much immediately tied it up just 14 seconds later.

Portage would take their first lead of the game just over six minutes into the third, and then Eamonn Miller tied it up for the Kings not long after. 

Dauphin took a late penalty and Portage capitalized, scoring with just 1:30 left in the game. 

Dauphin is now 17-14-2-2. The loss saw them drop to fifth place. 

Photo Credit - Dauphin Kings.

Almost a year ago, Mallard's Brigette Lacquette became the first ever First Nation's woman to make the Canadian women's Olympic hockey team. Brigette went on to win a silver medal at the Pyeongchang Games. 

Now, the 26-year-old is playing in the Canadian Women's Hockey League,  and, it was just announced that Brigette will play in the league's All-Star game. 

"It means a ton to me and I'm super excited to play in this game," said Lacquette. "It's going to be a ton of fun playing against all of the best women in the league in one game. It's going to be a great weekend."

"I didn't really think I would make it, but I just got an email one day and it's a complete honour," she added. "I've seen the list of the girls selected and it feels absolutely amazing to be amongst the best ladies in the country."

The All-Star game goes on January 20 and it will be broadcasted on Sportsnet. The game is played at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

"I'm just really looking forward to the entire weekend," said Lacquette. "I've never been to an All-Star Weekend, and it's super exciting."

This season with the Calgary Inferno, the Mallard native has been a regular on the scoresheet. Lacquette has 11 points in 14 games (2G). Since playing her first CWHL game with the Inferno back in the 2015-16 season, the 26-year-old has been very steady. She's played in 43 games and has 35 points.

With this season being her first since playing in the Olympics, it's very easy for Brigette to look back at that experience in a positive way. She's well on her way to having a career year this campaign and it's playing on Team Canada that fuelled her to have this success.

"Yeah, absolutely playing on Team Canada helped me, I learned from so many great ladies," said Lacquette. "Now, it's just about working my butt off and giving it all I have every single day."

"I need to continue getting better every day and I think I'm pretty focused on that," she added. "The goal right now is to win a Championship with the Inferno."

It's been smooth sailing for Lacquette and the Inferno this season, for the most part. They're 12-1-0-1. That has them comfortably in first place by seven points. The team has 14 more regular season games. This weekend, they wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule against Toronto in Calgary. 

"We definitely have a pretty good squad, and we have a few players that won a gold medal with the US at the Olympics," said Lacquette. "We're strong on the back end, up front, and in net. We're confident in our abilities for sure."

After this weekend, Brigette and the team resume their season on January 5-6 in Markham.

The Dauphin Clippers hockey team are winners of nine straight. They kept it rolling earlier today as they returned to the Westman High School Hockey League after a weekend in Brandon. They defeated the Major Pratt Trojans, 7-6 in a shootout.

Riley Hammond scored three times including the game-tying goal with just over one minute left.

Logan Storey, Craig Allard, and Alex Iwanchysko also scored for the Clippers in regulation. Keanu Woodhouse, Wade Kopytko, and Hammond scored in the shootout in the win.

The Clippers are now 9-2 this season. They return to action on December 19. They're in Brandon to play Crocus Plains.

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The Parkland Midget Rangers struggled. They lost 7-0 to the Brandon Wheat Kings.

They're in Souris tomorrow to play the Southwest Cougars.

The Dauphin Kings had a ton of chances this afternoon, but, they just couldn't find the back of the net in a 3-0 loss to the Waywayseecappo Wolverines.

The Kings had the first golden chance in the game when Riley Buller had a wide open net, but he couldn't put the puck in it. Buller would go on to have a few more glorious chances, but Isaac Labelle came up clutch for Wayway.

Despite the loss, the Kings really did play well at times. They outshot the Wolverines 35-25. Dauphin did struggle on the power play, going 0-8. They were very good on the penalty kill, going 6-6.

Wayway scored one goal 5:00 minutes into the game, and the next two in the third period. The final goal was an empty-netter while the second was on a breakaway.

Dauphin wraps up their MJHL Showcase tomorrow afternoon. They take on the Portage Terriers at 4:00 p.m.

It was new to him a few weeks ago, but now, playing in Finland is just a part of his routine. Gilbert Plains Colby Robak is fitting in nicely in his first season in the Finnish Liiga with Vassan Sport.

Since signing his contract in mid-October, Robak has played in 20 games with the club. He's been productive offensively as well, doing what he needs to from the backend. Robak has nine assists.

"You know, things are really good and I'm starting to feel more settled as the weeks go on," said Robak. "The team is doing pretty well; we're sort of in the middle of the pack. I'm feeling better every day out here."

One of the biggest adjustments Colby has had to get used to is the bigger ice surface. Rinks in North America are 200 feet long and 85 feet wide. Overseas, the surface is 197 feet long and 94.8 feet wide. Colby's had the chance to play 20 games on it already and practice a ton, but, it's something that's still a work in progress.

"I feel like it's going to be an adjustment here for a while, I mean I played eight years of pro hockey in North America," added Robak. "I'm still adjusting for sure. But, at the end of the day, it's still just hockey. It's just about going out there, doing your thing and I think things just work themselves out."

Something that Colby has been able to use to his advantage wherever he's played is his size. Standing in at over 6'3", Colby can use his size to have success, and he's also got speed. Those are two big reasons why the GP native is in his ninth season of professional hockey. 

Now that he's playing on a bigger ice surface, Colby knows the way to succeed out there is using his size and speed to transition his team to offence.

"Playing on the bigger surface, I think I've been able to take advantage of the few extra feet that I have out there," added Robak. "I think having size and speed out here has helped me transition to playing in this league."

Off the ice, the Robak's are expecting baby #2 shortly. So if you add up the fact that Colby signed his first overseas contract, recorded his first point, and his second baby is on the way... it's safe to say that it's been a memorable time in Finland for Colby and his family.

"Things have been great in general. My wife isn't really comfortable with moving right now, so we're just going to spend Christmas here and go with the flow," added Robak. "It's been a great experience going through this whole thing with my family. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season, and we'll see how it all goes."

Robak and the team have won four of their last five games. They're back on the ice in a couple days in game action.

The Dauphin Clippers hockey team is coming off a fantastic weekend. They won a bronze medal at the Vic Inn tournament at Brandon which featured 24 of the best teams from around the province.

The bronze medal winning game came against Dryden, 4-1.

"The boys really competed well all weekend, from the top to the bottom of the lineup, everyone worked extremely hard," said Trevor Robak. "Because of it, we were able to just roll our lines and keep everyone fresh."

"We made a step in the right direction and definitely got better," added Robak. "I think when you're competing, you're getting better and that's what we did."

Despite the success, there are still a few things the Clippers need to improve on going forward. With it only being December 11, the Clipper ship has tons of time to do so.

"I think just puck awareness in our zone is a big thing for us," said Robak. "At times, we need to do a better job of knowing where the puck is and what the other guys are doing."

Now that the weekend is over, the Clippers return to Westman High School Hockey League action. They welcome the Major Pratt Trojans to town this evening. It's the second meeting of the season between the two clubs. Back in Dauphin's second game, Major Pratt won 5-2. Since that, the Clippers have won eight straight league games. 

"We just need to play as we did in Brandon, all four lines working hard," said Robak. "We need to keep their shots to the outside and win races to pucks. If we do that, we'll have success."

Just five points separate the Clippers and Trojans in the standings. Dauphin is at 16 points through 10 games. The Trojans have 11 points through seven games.

The puck drops at 7:30 tonight at Credit Union Place.

Swan River's Josh Tripp has been named the Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week. The 20-year-old is having an amazing season and he was unreal last week as well.

He had seven points (2G) in just two games for the Stampeders who are also having a great season. Overall this campaign, Tripp leads the MJHL with 50 points. 

Swan Valley is back on the ice tomorrow as they play in the MJHL Showcase.

The runner-ups are Jack Einarson from Virden and Troy Williams of the Steinbach Pistons.

The McCreary Peewee Mustangs made the trip back home from Killarney with some hardware yesterday.

They won the B Division Championship at a tournament there... in a dramatic way.

Trailing 1-0 to Killarney in the third, Brody Fayant tied the contest up. The goal was a beautiful redirection off a shot from Jackson Buchanan. The game was then 3-on-3 overtime bound.

With under a minute left, Brady Turko of the Mustangs was hauled down by a Killarney defender. Turko was awarded a penalty shot in the extra frame.

The youngster had a sweet deke to give the Mustangs the Championship.

Early in 2020, the top men's curling team from the Parkland will be Winnipeg bound. Curl Manitoba has announced that the Charleswood Curling Club will host the 2020 Viterra Championship from February 4-9.

It will be the first time that the club has hosted the event, but they did host the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which ended up being very successful.

"They approached us and they were really interested in hosting this event," said Craig Baker, Executive Director with Curl Manitoba. "After a successful Scotties, we thought it would be a great opportunity for them to host the men's event."

"We had a couple different communities that were interested, but Charleswood really wanted to do it close to when they hosted the Scotties," added Baker. "They want to continue the momentum they built up from 2017. It's also about timing and it worked out, so we're all good."

The Charleswood Curling Club will host the event, but the games will be played at the Eric Coy Arena itself. 

Last year's representative from the Parkland was Rob Fisher and his foursome. Members of that foursome included Jason Yates, Mike Csversko, and Lawson Yates.

"The rural communities really always do support these types of events in Winnipeg," said Baker. "Charleswood really does seem to have that community feel to it, and that's exactly what we were looking for."

"For all the rural teams, they want to be the biggest show in town, so it's always exciting for them," he added."It's going to be a great event and we're really looking forward to it."

This year's Viterra Championship will be at Tundra Oil & Gas Place which is the home of the Virden Oil Capitals. Reid Carruthers will be the defending Champion when the event kicks off on February 5.