Photo credit - Pederson Photographic
The top-two teams in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's regular-season standings are just two days away from opening up the league's championship series as the Dauphin Kings and Steinbach Pistons will go head-to-head on Friday night in game one at the TG Smith Centre.
Dauphin earned their spot in the finals by dispatching Swan Valley in six games and they downed Winkler in five games. The Pistons; meanwhile, beat Selkirk in five games and then took down the Virden Oil Capitals in six games.
Cordell Coleman is in his final junior season and he can't wait to get things going.
"The first two rounds went really well for us, we've been playing solid," said Coleman. "I feel like we're playing more consistently and making things happen. I'm looking forward to the experience in the finals and we're all ready to get going."
Coleman sent Dauphin to the second round with his game-winner in game five against Winkler. He stripped Ryan Monias behind the net, walked out front and snipped a perfect shot past Dylan Meilun. It was Coleman's second playoff goal this year.
"It was my first playoff goal at home so I was so excited," said Coleman. "I just want to do whatever it takes to help the team win and scoring that goal was huge."
Pistons vs Kings:
The two teams played three times in the regular season with Steinbach winning the final two contests, Dauphin opened up the short three-game season series with a win at the Showcase in Portage la Prairie
Dauphin by the numbers (playoffs)
Record - 8-3
GF - 45
GA - 28
PP% - 26.9%
PK% - 82.5%
Leaders - Parker Malchuk 3g, 12a
Kaden Bryant 7g, 7a
Colby Jaquet 4g, 9a
Goaltending - Carson Cherepak has gone 8-3 with a .919 save percentage to go along with a 2.43 goals-against average. He was named the MJHL's goaltender of the year at the conclusion of the regular season
Steinbach by the numbers (playoffs)
Record - 8-3
GF - 44
GA - 31
PP% - 25.7%
PK% - 82.1%
Leaders - Zach Power 8g, 12a
Braden Birnie 9g, 10a
Quinton Pepper 3g, 12a
Goaltending - Will Hambley played Steinbach's first seven games of the playoffs and although he won five games, he struggled at times with a .892 save percentage to go along with a 3.01 goals-against average. Simon Harkness has since played the last four for Steinbach winning three to go along with a .904 save percentage and a 2.51 goals-against average. Dauphin scored six times on Harkness at the Showcase.
Both teams have firepower, both teams boast solid back ends and both goaltenders have what it takes. Cordell knows how important each and every shift will be.
"They're a really good team, they finished in first place for a reason," said Coleman. "Everyone has to be rolling and get in on the forecheck. We're ready for the challenge, we know it's going to be a great one."
Coleman ended by saying he believes the team is very confident but there are some nerves.
"No matter what happens, we just have to play our game," ended Coleman.