Heading into the 2018-19 Westman High School Hockey League season, the main goal for the Dauphin Clippers was to advance to the Championship series and give themselves a chance to bring a banner to the DRCSS.
Months after the season began, that's where the Clippers find themselves.
Now nine days after eliminating the Killarney Raiders from the playoffs, Dauphin is just one day away from beginning their best of three final against the Hamiota Huskies.
Riley Hammond was chosen at the start of the season to lead this team as captain. The 17-year-old Dauphinite has lived up to all of the expectations that are placed on a person when being named captain. He was seventh in league scoring this year with 56 points and he helped the Clippers go 21-3 in the regular season.
Tomorrow's start of the series marks Riley's first ever Championship series in his hockey career which has been very successful to date.
"It's a really exciting time right now," said Hammond. "I knew we had a good team at the start of the season, but we didn't know how far we would go. It feels really cool that we're fighting for a title."
So far in the playoffs, Riley and the rest of the Clippers have become the comeback kids. In their first series, they lost game number one against Virden and won two straight to advance. That's exactly what happened against the Raiders in their semifinal as well.
"It just proves that you can get us down, but we're never going to give up," added Hammond. "It was a great feeling to win both of those series, especially how we did, now we're looking to build off that."
Hamiota finished 22-2 on the season which means they will have home ice when the puck drops in the best of three tomorrow. Dauphin played Hamiota once in the regular season and won that meeting 3-2. Ironically enough, Captain Hammond scored in that game alongside Logan Conrad and Noah Wiens.
Since January 6 when playing regular season and playoff games, Hamiota has won 16 of their last 17 games. They also were a finalist at the A/AA High School Provincial Championships that went this past weekend.
Over the same period, Dauphin has gone 13-3.
"We just have to stay calm and play the best game we can," he added. "We have to give it everything we have and if we do that, we like our chances."
"Getting this far with this group of guys has been an absolute blast," said Hammond. "It's definitely been one of the best hockey years of my life."
Here is the full series schedule:
Game #1 - Wednesday, March 13 @ Hamiota - 8:00 p.m.
Game #2 - Monday, March 18 @ Credit Union Place - 7:30 p.m.
Game #3 - Tuesday, March 19 @ Hamiota - 8:00 p.m.