After going 13-10-0-1 in the 2016-17 season, the Dauphin Clippers have caught fire in the Westman High School Hockey League. Not that the record that year wasn't good, but the club has definitely stepped it up in the past two seasons.
Last year, the Clippers went 22-1-0-1 and finished atop the North division by 13 points. That momentum has carried into this year as the Clippers (21-3) once again have finished atop the North division heading into postseason play. Only Killarney and Hamiota have more points than the Clippers and Dauphin has beaten both of those teams.
"We've kind of been up and down lately. Our intensity level seems to be very high against the top teams but low against teams that are lower in the standings," said Trevor Robak, Head Coach. "That's one thing that we're really stressing to everyone on the team. We can't afford to take a night off because it's not the regular season anymore; we're not guaranteed to be playing several more games."
Since opening their season with two straight losses, the Clippers rattled off 20 straight wins. That streak came to an end when they lost to Sandy Bay this past Friday, 10-7. It was the first time that the Clippers scored more than two goals and lost this season.
"That was a little disappointing because we all know what our team is capable of," added Robak. "We just don't seem to have that extra gear when we're playing against the lower teams and I don't know why. We need to play everyone like they're at the top of the standings and that's how we'll have success. Our intensity level can't drop off at all."
Despite that loss, the team still put together some incredible numbers this year. They scored seven goals during eight different games and hit the double-digit mark three times. Dauphin also held their opponents to less than three goals, 17 different times. They also racked up 338 points against their opponents while holding other teams to just 139 points combined.
Now the team is set for their biggest two days of the season so far, a Provincial Championship qualifier. Being the #1 seed, Dauphin earned a bye through the first round and will play either Neepawa or Sandy Bay in the semi-final. That game will be at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday. Neepawa and Crocus Plains are on the other side of the bracket and meet in Thursday's semi-final.
Two straight wins from Dauphin and they're off to the AAA/AAAA provincials in Winnipeg later this season.
"We have to make sure we come with our intensity level at an all-time high," said Robak. "We have to win every battle and every race and we need to attack with the speed we have."
"We know we can compete with anyone, it just comes down to work ethic," he added. "We also have some really good goaltending so if we all come together at the right time, I don't see why we can't make something great happen."
The Clippers will enter the playoffs later this month but schedules have not been finalized as of yet.