Ken Munro got his first chance to be a head coach back in 1996 when he was the bench boss for the U18 Tier 2 Swan Valey Stampeders and 25 years later, Munro is still coaching the game he loves. His coaching journey has included some twists and turns along the way, but the Swan River native said he wouldn't change a thing.

Munro became the coach of the team in 1996 when his nephew moved down from Lynn Lake and when the U15 team was already full, he joined the U18 team and as a result, he was coached by his uncle. 

"It was a fun year with a lot of learning," said Munro. "Going from being an assistant coach to a head coach is different, but I enjoyed the change."

As we fast forward to 1999, the Swan Valley Stampeders were set to enter the Manitoba Junior Hockey League as the league's newest team. Playing out of the Swan River Centennial Arena, Munro remembers how much excitement there was in town when the team entered the league and Ken was given the chance to be upfront and centre. 

Just a couple of years removed from his first season as a head coach, Ken joined the Stampeders as an assistant coach. The team ended up winning 31 games in their inaugural season which finished them in ninth place. Ken compares the atmosphere in the team's first season to when they advanced to the league final in the 2018-19 season. 

"It was such an exciting year for everyone in the organization and around the community," stated Munro. "I joined a great coaching staff and that gave me a great opportunity to learn from veterans."

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On September 1st, 1999, Ken's oldest son, Quinn was born at the hospital in Swan River. And to say the Munro's are all Stampeders would be an understatement. During the team's first rookie camp, Quinn Henry scored the first goal and Ken said to his wife that the first person that scores a goal, we'll name our kid after. The rest is clearly history and 18 years after he was born, Quinn suited up in three games with the Stampeders and he's also a former Parkland Ranger. 

Munro says some of the most exciting times with the Stampeders came when they travelled to play the OCN Blizzard at the Gordon Lathlin. OCN won five straight league championships from 1999 to 2003. 

"The chants you would hear on the ice when sitting in the dressing room, there was honestly nothing like it," offered Munro. "Although we were a new team, we had a great rivalry with them. We were packing our rink and they were packing their rink, it was great to be a part of."

Father, son dominance:

15 years after he joined the Stampeders coaching staff, Ken was the main piece in putting together the Parkland U18 AA Rangers for the 2014-15 season.

The team struggled heavily at the start of the year but by the end of the season, they were champions. Before playing in provincials, they were beating teams that previously beat them by 10 goals early in the year. The team was then invited to the provincials -- which was a surprise -- and they made their invitation count as they beat The Pas, 3-2 to win the provincials. Quinn was the team's starting goaltender for the season.

"It was kind of unexpected, we didn't even think Hockey Manitoba would put us in the provincials because we were a regional team," offered Munro. "We had a good team and we made a good run, it was a blast."

That was the team's only season as high school hockey took over in Swan River. 

Although Quinn is now done playing competitive hockey, you can still find Ken at the rink nearly every day in the winter. His younger son, Will plays with the Parkland U18 Rangers and Ken was a part of the coaching staff alongside Tom White when WIll played with the U15 Rangers. 

Will -- a draft pick of the Kelowna Rockets -- scored once and added two assists in seven games this season with Parkland before the campaign was cancelled due to restrictions put in place by the government. Munro was also auto-protected by his hometown Stampeders ahead of the 2020 MJHL draft. 

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Combined with his days as an assistant coach prior to 1996, Ken has been coaching for more than 25 years and he says there is no end in sight as he continues to love doing what he does on the ice with athletes in the Parkland.

If you've been waiting to play at the Gilbert Plains Country Club, the wait is almost over.

Scott McCallum confirmed on Wednesday that the course will open for play on Thursday at noon.

Tee times must be booked as it's expected to be very busy. You can book one by calling the pro shop at 548-3030. 

The CFL is pushing back the start to its 2021 season and reducing the number of games played due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league announced Wednesday it plans to kick off the 2021 campaign on August 5, nearly two months later than originally planned.

The CFL campaign was slated to open June 10 with each team playing a full 18-game regular season after the league cancelled the 2020 season due to the global pandemic.

Training camps were to open in mid-May with the first exhibition contest slated for May 23.

But with Canada dealing with a third wave, the CFL board of governors decided Tuesday to push back the start of the 2021 season and reduce the schedule to 14 games.

That will also result in the Grey Cup game being played on December 12 in Hamilton instead of Nov. 21.

Jill Wiebe has gone above and beyond for years as the Grand Plains Minor Hockey Association continues to grow every year. She's been volunteering for a dozen years since her oldest child started playing when he was four. 

Jill has spent the past 10 years as manager for Grand Plains teams and she's also served as manager for the Parkland women's Rangers. On top of that, Jill has been a board member for five years and she also helped with the process of getting new jerseys for Grand Plains Minor.

And Wiebe has also been heavily involved with the Grandview Lakers baseball team for more than 10 years so whether it's on the ball diamond or in the rink, Wiebe has done it all as a volunteer.

"I love volunteering, I'm super passionate about it," said Wiebe. "It's honestly always on my mind, I love doing what I do."

Wiebe says her greatest memories from over the years are just seeing everyone hit the ice. She's also loved watching the growth over the past few years, including what was set to be a record-setting season this year, but it was ended quickly because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A U18 team was introduced this season and they played four games and half boards were purchased to be used at the GACC and in Gilbert Plains at the U7 and U9 level and those are just two things that were set to make this year one for the books.

As we now look forward to the 2021-22 season, Jill says she can't wait to be rink and of course, on the baseball diamond this summer. And ahead of that, Jill has been recognized by Hockey Manitoba. It's National Volunteer Week and as a result, Hockey Manitoba is recognizing those who make a difference in their community and it's safe to say that Jill has made a huge one.

"I'm extremely humbled and flattered. It's also not just me, we work as a board together," ended Wiebe. "There are so many great people that make a big difference, I love working with everyone I do."

Remy Buchanan has played hockey in Ste. Rose, McCreary, and Neepawa over the years on a few different teams. She's made many great memories along the way and her career as a hockey player will continue in the fall.

From McCreary, Remy will make the move to Brandon as she's committed to play with the ACC Cougar's women's team, a squad that plays Division 2 in the American Collegiate Hockey Conference. Remy was captain this past season with her team in Neepawa and it's not only hockey where Remy has had a ton of success. 

She was named the most valuable player when she played soccer at the 2016 Manitoba Summer Games and she was named MVP twice at the 2019 Canadian Juvenile Broomball Nationals. 

Buchanan says she can't wait to head to Brandon.

"This is so exciting for me, I can't wait to make so many great memories," said Buchanan. "I am a bit nervous as I'll be playing at a higher level and meeting a bunch of new girls, but that's okay. It should be a great two years at ACC."

The last time a national tournament was held was back in 2019 and the Cougars came out on top as they beat Minot State University in Frisco, Texas to claim a national championship. The event has been cancelled the past two seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn't stopped the Cougars from recruiting hard with the hope of getting back on the national stage in 2022. 

On top of all she has done on the ice, Remy prides herself on giving back. She's spent time volunteering at the Neepawa Vet Clinic, at McCreary's Canada Day celebration and the agriculture fair and races, just to name a few. 

Remy will make the move to Brandon later this summer and in the meantime, she's training hard to make sure she is ready for the challenge of playing college hockey.

"I want to make a ton of memories and become an overall better hockey player," ended Buchanan. "I know the team will be solid once again and I'll do anything I can to help them win games."

There will be no playoffs in the Western Hockey League following the 2020-21 season.

The major junior league announced Monday that the season will conclude following the completion of the 24-game regular season due to COVID-19 concerns.

The league said in a release that travel restrictions across provincial and international borders in place to try to stem the tide of the global pandemic would make it difficult to conduct a post-season.

The announcement comes a week after the Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella organization for the WHL, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Ontario Hockey League, cancelled the 2021 Memorial Cup major junior championship due to COVID-19.

The QMJHL is going ahead with a modified playoff format, while the OHL has not received approval from public health authorities to commence its 2020-21 season.

"When we returned to play in February, we set out with the intention of completing a 24-game regular-season schedule, knowing adjustments would be needed along the way,'' WHL Commissioner Ron Robison said in a statement. "We remained hopeful that public health conditions would improve, but unfortunately, that is not the reality we see in front of us.''

A spring snowstorm paused the golf season in the province last week and while there are courses in the province that have opened back up, none have in the Parkland, until later this week.

Ray Karlson has confirmed the Dauphin Lake Golf Club will re-open for the season on Thursday morning. The high on Thursday is expected to be 11 with a mix of sun and cloud. 

"It looks like things are starting to turn in the right direction for us, so that's exciting," said Karlson. 

You can still take advantage of early bird pricing on memberships. If you wanted an adult membership, you can save more than $100. An adult couple would save nearly $300 while a junior would save $20 under the early bird pricing. 

And as you get your clubs ready for the season, Karlson says there has never been a better time to play at the Dauphin Lake Golf Club.

"I believe the course in 2020 was the best shape it has been for a number of years," stated Karlson. "Our greens wintered very well and we're also going to have brand new carts by the end of May here, which is nice."

Work is also being done in the clubhouse and newly renovated washrooms will be available in the basement. You can see membership prices and more at Dauphin Lake

Before you know it we'll be golfing once again at the Dauphin Lake Golf Club and you can make sure you're a part of the action this summer.

Ray Karlson has confirmed that they will run their early bird pricing until the end of the day on Friday, April 23.

If you wanted an adult membership, you can save more than $100 by taking advantage of early-bird pricing.

An adult couple would save nearly $300 while a junior would save $20 under the early bird pricing. 

You can call Ray at 638-9400 to get signed up today for what should be another very exciting summer on the course. 

The Gilbert Plains Country Club was packed last weekend, this weekend, that's not the case.

With the golf season on pause, until the snow clears, you can still cash in on a sweet deal if you plan on playing lots this summer at the GPCC.

Early bird membership prices have been extended until April 30. This means you can save $25 on an adult membership or $50 on the family shareholder pass. Full prices are at membership

On top of that, if you haven't been a member since 2018, you can buy one for just $600 which is good for the entire season.

Give Scott a call at 648-7834 if you want to take advantage of this deal. 

After five years with the Dauphin Kings, Christian Laughland is no longer a part of the organization.

The Kings announced that Laughland has resigned from his duties as Marketing Director. Ashley Shaw, President, says Christian did a tremendous job during his time with the team.

"He's been a big part of our organization and we're sad to see him go," said Shaw. "He put a lot of time, effort, and energy in our club and we're thankful for the last five years that he was with us."

When Christian first moved to Dauphin, he was the Sports Director at 730CKDM before he joined the Kings. Christian is also the Deputy Mayor. Moving forward, the organization plans on hiring someone to replace Christian, but there is no timeline for when someone would be hired or an application process at this point.

In other Kings news, although it's the offseason the team is staying busy. The Par 3 Extravaganza will take place on June 12 at the Dauphin Lake Golf Club and like always, the team's grow project will be back once again. 

"Things are still moving along and we're crossing our fingers that we will be able to get things going in September on the ice," ended Shaw. 

There are only two teams in the National Hockey League that have 18 wins on home ice this season. The Colorado Avalanche are 18-4-2 on home ice as they lead the West Division. And while the New York Islanders don't lead the East Division, they have been nearly unstoppable on home ice.

Ahead of two games against the Boston Bruins, New York is 18-2-2 at home this season, which gives them the best home winning percentage of any team in the league. The Islanders have put forward some great defensive performances while they have also been getting it done offensively at home. 

In six home games in April, the Islanders have given up more than two goals just once and it came in an 8-4 win against Washington back on April 1. Ryan Pulock -- is in his fourth season with the Islanders -- and continues to be one of the team's most reliable players on the back end.

"It's important to take care of home ice and we're comfortable playing in our building," said Pulock. 

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While they have been red hot on home ice, the Islanders have struggled on the road at times this season going 9-9-2. Of the eight teams in the East Division, New York's nine wins on the road are more than only the Buffalo Sabres who are the worst team in the league. The only other current playoff team with just nine wins on the road is the Montreal Canadiens who lost 4-1 on home ice on Wednesday. 

The Islanders can reach the double-digit mark in wins on the road on Thursday when they begin the back-to-back set against Boston before travelling for a game in Philadelphia on Sunday. After he posted 10 goals last season in 68 games, it took Ryan much longer than he thought it would to notch his first this season, but it came at a great time. Playing the Rangers back on Sunday, Ryan took a beautiful pass from Mathew Barzal and he fired it past Igor Shesterkin as Pulock scored his first goal and the Islanders picked up a 3-2 victory. 

Pulock says he's been playing very well this season despite not scoring many goals, but he says it was nice to find the back of the net.

"I haven't really gone through a stretch in my career without scoring, it's part of my game," offered Pulock. "There was a bit of frustration that set in, but I just want to stick with it because I'm playing really good hockey. To score an overtime goal against the Rangers is always special being our rivals."

Deadline splash:

There weren't many big moves on trade deadline day in the NHL, but the Islanders certainly made a splash. The team acquired Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils as they look to make a big run at the Stanley Cup after making the Eastern Conference Final last season. Already a solid team before adding two elite forwards, the Islanders' depth has improved that much more as the regular season nears a close.

"It's an exciting time here when you're able to make a trade to make the team better," offered Pulock. "They're both excellent players who will help us succeed."

The Devils also retained 50 percent of both Zajac's and Palmieri's salaries. 

Home stretch:

Just 14 games remain for New York in the regular season and they're currently chasing the Washington Capitals who have 60 points and lead the East by two points over the Islanders while Pittsburgh is just four back. Of the 14 games, eight of them will come on the road including the season finale on May 10 against the Boston Bruins. 

Three critical games against Washington remain coming on April 22, 24, and 27. The Islanders play Boston three more times, the Rangers three times, Buffalo twice, the Devils twice, and Philadelphia once.