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They were the top-ranked team for 15 weeks. They were the class of not only the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League but the Canadian Junior Hockey League as well.

It was smooth sailing from game one to game 54 for the Flin Flon Bombers. They were dominating teams and it seemed as if no one would be able to touch them in their pursuit of the organization's first league title since 1993.

They had already long clinched home-ice advantage for the entirety of their playoff run and other than more regular season wins, the Bombers did not have a whole lot to play for. Struggles came along with that as Flin Flon won just four of their last 11 games and in their final two regular-season games against the Humboldt Broncos, the Bombers were outscored 10-3 in two defeats.

Rob Hart is the voice of the team and as he says, there was some panic amongst team fans.

"Some of the fans were a little concerned and I was as well," said Hart. "Mike Reagan, our team's coach believed everything would be fine, the team really didn't have anything to play for quite a while after the great start."

Struggling heading into the playoffs, Flin Flon quickly put the brakes on any of the negative emotions surrounding the club after a poor start to the 56-game campaign. The Bombers opened their playoffs against Kindersley and scored 12 times in the first two games and then won two straight games in Kindersley to win the series in four games. 

Battlefords were the other team in the league to finish off a first-round sweet as they beat Melville on Wednesday. 

"The Klippers were the easiest out in the first round, Flin Flon looked pretty good," said Hart. "There's some pretty good depth on this team which is always important in the playoffs."

2023 SJHL Finals Rematch?

Two teams have reached the Final 4, while the wait for two more continues. The Weyburn Red Wings won both games on home ice to tie up their first-round series with the Humboldt Broncos who entered the series as clear favourites. The Melfort Mustangs responded from a game three loss to beat the Bruins in game four to take a three games to one series lead.

If all pans out according to regular season standings, Humboldt will fend off the Red Wings to advance while the Mustangs will finish off the Bruins. If so, Flin Flon will play the North Stars in the second round if that is the case.

The two storied organizations met in the league final last year when Battlefords beat Flin Flon in four games. Flin Flon beat the North Stars in three of four games during this regular season and finished 14 points ahead of them in the standings.

Battlefords won their final three regular season games and have now won seven games in a row. They're led by Kian Bell who won the league regular season's scoring race and he posted 10 points in five games against Melville in the first round. 

Round two of the playoffs will not begin until next weekend.

"The nice thing for Flin Flon is they get a rest after winning in four games," said Hart. "The last thing they wanted was to go six or seven games in the first round. This break will do them good. Battlefords will also be very fresh after beating Melville in four games. That is a very good hockey club in Battlefords with some guys who are outstanding offensively."

Now back at the Whitney Forum preparing for the next round, the Bombers will host games one and two, next Friday and Saturday. With crowds of more than 1100 packing the Forum for both home games against Kindersley in the first round, a trip to Flin Flon could make for a great weekend if you're looking to make some plans over the next little bit.

Bax Watch:

Kings fans were happy to see Jordan Bax back in the lineup in game two of their series against the Blizzard and he scored four goals in his first two appearances in that series.

When it comes to his older brother Anthony, he's enjoying his new life in Flin Flon. Bax had one goal and three assists in the first round, but it hasn't been all great for Bax as he struggled a bit over the past few weeks. With a run-and-gun style, Anthony has had to change how he plays because the Bombers are already lethal offensively.

But, good players adapt and that's the case for Anthony as he looks to help the Maroon + White win their first title in 31 years

"Defence is what wins championships and he has to alter his game a little bit, which he has done," ended Hart. "He's playing physical and he is really focusing on play in his own end, which he needs to. He's doing very well and is a cruical piece of this team."

Overtime was friendly to the Dauphin Kings on Sunday when Joshua Schmidt scored to put the Kings up two games to nothing in their best-of-seven series against the Blizzard.

The Kings dropped game three and on Thursday night, it was double overtime heartbreak for the home team. The Kings turned over the puck behind their own net just more than four minutes into double overtime and Miguel Bouvier made the Kings pay dearly as he beat Cole Sheffield over the glove to give the Blizzard a 2-1 win.

In another outstanding game between these two West Division rivals, it was the Kings who opened up the scoring as Logan Walker scored his first of the playoffs 7:45 into the second period. Riley See would bat in a loose puck in front of the net early in the third to tie the game at one and overtime was needed. 

Ultimately, double overtime was needed and Bouvier was able to seal this game. With the win, the Blizzard tied the series at two games apiece.

Game five will be Saturday night in The Pas and Darnell Duff will have the call. 

A pair of Parkland hockey stars were crowned provincial champions on Tuesday night.

Capping off a perfect playoff run, the Brandon Wheat beat the Winnipeg Wild, 4-3, in overtime in game three of the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League's playoffs inside the J&G Homes Arena in Brandon. The Wheat Kings were a perfect 9-0 during their championship run, scoring 53 goals and giving up just 14.

Brady Turko of McCreary had a sensational playoff run for Brandon scoring nine times and posting 20 points while Easton Odut of Dauphin finished with two goals and 12 points. Jaxon Jacobson led all playoff scorers with 23 points. Brandon has still not lost a game in regulation after they went 43-0-1 in the regular season and paired with their perfect playoff run, the team's record is now 52-0-1. 

With their championship, the Wheat Kings now advance to the Telus Cup West Regionals which will be played at the Hockey for All Centre in Winnipeg from April 4 to 7. Brandon will be joined by the Winnipeg Wild, Saskatoon Blazers, and Thunder Bay Kings in the four-team event. The champion will earn their berth in the Telus Cup from April 22 to 28 in Membertou, Nova Scotia. 

Stay tuned to hear from Easton and Brady ahead of the regional championships next month. 

Conor Geekie is focusing on helping the Swift Current Broncos make a deep run in the Western Hockey League (WHL) playoffs that open up Friday night.

Ahead of that, the Strathclair star and Arizona Coyotes draft pick has earned some hardware leading into the big dance. Geekie was named to the Central Division's first all-star team. Acquired in a blockbuster deal from the Wenatchee Wild, Geekie finished 11th in league scoring with 43 goals and 56 assists.

In 29 games with Swift Current, Geekie posted 23 goals and 27 assists and was a plus-30. He also had three game-winning goals for the Broncos who claimed the Central Division crown by four points over Gavin McKenna and the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Geekie and the rest of the Broncos will begin their playoff run on Friday night when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes in game one of a best-of-seven series. This year's appearance in the playoffs is Swift Current's first since they won the league in 2018. Swift Current beat Lethbridge in six games during their championship run that year and Geekie will look to lead his team as they begin their chase for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. 

A volleyball dynasty now exists at Lakeland College and a star from Dauphin is a big reason why.

Sarah Hogue was back playing with the Rustlers team this year and helped the team to an 18-1 conference play record. From November through the remainder of the regular season, Hogue and the Rustlers won 16 straight matches and 14 of them were in straight sets.

During the team's conference play final against SAIT, Hogue had four kills on five attempts as the Rustlers capped off a great conference schedule. Things would only get tougher moving forward into the conference tournament. While they had handily beaten all of their conference opponents in the past, things get tougher once championship season arrives.

For the Rustlers, that wasn't a problem; however. They won nine straight sets at their conference tournament, including a 3-0 win against the Ambrose Lions in the championship final. It was the program's fourth Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) championship and second in as many years. 

"Our conference tournament was a very big focus for us," said Hogue. "We had to make sure that we went into the event focused because we knew no match would be easy. We accomplished our goal of winning a conference championship and it was very enjoyable to be a part of, pretty special."

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Next up for the top-ranked Rustlers was the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association's national championships. An event that features the top teams from coast to coast and in the team's quarterfinal against the Canadian Mennonite Blazers (CMU), Hogue put together a solid match with three kills on four opportunities to go along with one dig and two solo blocks.

The Rustlers took the court the following morning for practice ahead of their national semi-final against Capilano. Battling injuries throughout the season, Hogue saw her national journey end at that practice as she went down with an injury that forced her to miss the team's final two matches. Now playing for one of their leaders, the remainder of the Rustlers squad came up large as they won their next two matches to win their second straight national title.

They became the first Lakeland program to remain the top seed in the national rankings from the start of the season to the end.

So while Hogue was unable to help her team on the court in the semi-final and national final, she remained upbeat from the sidelines in cheering on the Rustlers to national glory.

"It was not something that I ever expected to be a two-time national champion at the collegiate level," ended Hogue. "It's a testament to the culture that has been built within our program and at the school. We work hard and to win it again, it's an incredible feeling."

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As far as what's next with the Dauphin star, Hogue has been accepted into a community-based education program through the University of Calgary and will complete her practicum in Lloydminster. That means she will play two more seasons with the Rustlers and as she now hopes to recover to get back to 100% health, she has a goal of a three-peat beginning in the fall. 

The Dauphin Kings had a chance to take a three games to nothing stranglehold on the Blizzard; however, they were unable to do so.

Griffin Ayotte scored twice, the Blizzard went 3-for-6 on the power play as they skated off with a 5-3 win at the Roy H Johnston Arena on Tuesday evening. The Blizzard opened up the scoring and went up by two goals in the second, but the Kings did respond.

Jordan Bax scored back-to-back goals while on the man advantage to tie the game up. That's when the Blizzard scored two straight as Riley See and Ayotte scored. Then with 78 seconds left, the Kings gave themselves some life as Joshua Schmidt batted in a puck in front of the net to trim the deficit to one.

Ultimately, it wasn't to be for Dauphin as Sam Zagari scored into an empty-net with 20 seconds left to preserve the victory. Cole Sheffield made 29 saves in the loss while Tomas Anderson responded in a big way for the Blizzard as he made 37 saves. 

The Kings are now up two games to one ahead of game four at Credit Union Place on Thursday at 7:30. 

It was a great weekend in Winnipeg for the Dauphin U9 Eagles.

Playing in the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre tournament at the Hockey for All Centre, the Eagles came home with silver medals.

The team went undefeated in the round-robin and while they came up short in the gold medal game, the team was thrilled with their performance and they brought medals back to the Parkland. 

It was Dauphin Clippers strong over the weekend in Manitoba's capital.

The Hockey for All Centre played host to the 34th Annual MICEC Indigenous Minor Hockey Tournament and the Clippers dominated their competition to win a championship.

In the finals, Dauphin beat Peguis White, 5-0, to claim the title. They also previously beat Peguis White in the round-robin on top of wins against Cross Lake, PFN, and Sagkeeng.

Owen Chubka was named the tournament's most valuable player and best goalie. Cody Zurba was named the tournament's top defenceman while Ian Buors was the top scorer and Cash Clarkson won the Most Spirit Award.

 

Carter Williamson's journey in curling showcases his passion and dedication for the sport, starting from his early days in Dauphin to becoming a national champion with his team from Regina. His story highlights the importance of perseverance, teamwork, and the joy of achieving one's dreams.

Growing up watching and then actively participating in curling, Carter's love for the sport was evident from the beginning. Joining the Dauphin Curling Academy at a young age provided him with the foundation to develop his skills and passion under the guidance of experienced mentors.

Now 10 years later, Carter will soon pack up his bags to head to Italy after quite the run over the past little while. Now living in Regina and curling with the Cougars University curling team, the foursome was set to compete in the Western Canadian University Championships. Six teams across Western Canada were battling for two spots in the recently wrapped national championships.

Carter and his team got off to a very nice start as they downed Team Zingel of British Columbia, 10-4. They then ran into a solid Univesity of Alberta Golden Bears team skipped by Johnson Tao and going up against the 70th ranked team in the world, Williamson, curling on Team Bryden, came up short in a tight 7-6 loss. The Cougars responded in a big way by scoring 30 points in their next three games to finish with four wins in their five games and that finished them in second place which gave them a berth to the national tournament.

"We were so pumped to earn our berth," said Williamson. "To win three straight games to wrap up the weekend, we ended on a really high note. We played very well, we have an incredible group, I call every player on our team my best friend."

The stage was set. Team Regina was off to the 2024 USport Canadian University Curling Championships from March 12 to 16 at the Aitken University Centre in New Brunswick. It was a less than ideal start; however, for the Cougars as they dropped their opening game against Wilfrid Laurier, 7-4. Bouncing back with a pair of wins in a row, Team Regina then lost to Dalhousie, 8-4, and then split their next two games to move to 3-3 after six games.

Needing to catch fire to have an opportunity to play for a gold medal, the Cougars snuck by Saint Mary's, 6-5, which put them in the semi-final against Team Alberta. Led by Johnson Tao, the Alberta rink had already beaten Team Regina twice at the Western event and once at the national tournament. With a spot to the national final on the line, Williamson curled 91%, the team in all shot 96% and they stole one point in the 10th end to fend off the powerhouse Golden Bears foursome in a 7-5 win.

One final opponent was standing in the Cougars' way of winning a national title and it was the same team that they lost to earlier in the week, as Dalhousie University had won six of their eight games entering the national final.

Williamson shot 86% in the final as he outshot his opponent, the Cougars scored a five-ender in the eighth and it was handshakes in the 10th as Carter Williamson was crowned a national champion alongside his best friends in Ryan Grabarczyk, Adam Bukurak, Josh Bryden, and coach Jamie Schneider. 

"I honestly don't even know if it has set in as of right now," said Williamson. "There has been so much joy, it's such a special feeling. To beat some of the top teams in the country with our amazing group, it means everything."

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Looking ahead to the 2025 FISU World University Games in Torino, Italy, Carter expresses gratitude for the opportunity to represent his team and country on the global stage. His journey from a young boy enamored with curling to a world championship contender is a testament to the power of dreams and dedication.

"The level of competition that we're going up against, it's pretty special to get that chance," ended Williamson. "To be able to fly across the pond and compete doing what I love and to do it with four of my best friends, it's very special. If you would have told me when I started curling in Dauphin I would be going to Italy for a world championship, I wouldn't believe it. It truly is a dream come true."

Joshua Schmidt is now a hero.

Playing game two against the Blizzard in the Kings first round playoff series at Credit Union Place, Schmidt scored the overtime winner with 3:39 left as the Kings held off the Blizzard in a 5-4 win.

With the victory, Dauphin takes a two games to nothing lead in the best-of-seven, which will resume on Tuesday in The Pas. Dauphin came out on Sunday on fire as Carter Zalischuk and Jordan Bax had the Kings up by a pair of goals; however, the Blizzard would respond as Cheechoo Lathlin cut the deficit in half.

With just 1:07 left in the first, Cayden Glover gave Dauphin another two-goal lead as they went up 3-1. That's when with :34 left in the first, Sam Zagari once again brought the Blizzard within a goal.

In the second, only one goal was scored as Sebastian Hamming scored on the power play to send the game into the third tied at three. Jordan Bax would regain Dauphin's lead with his second of the game. Dauphin led 5-4 but once again, it wouldn't hold up as Miguel Bouvier scored with about 13 minutes left in the game. Cole Sheffield would then make some great saves down the stretch as for the first time in the playoffs, overtime was needed.

In the sudden death frame, Schmidt capped off the game as the Kings now take a good lead into their game on Tuesday. 

The first weekend of playoff hockey is in the books for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and so far, there are no surprises with the top-ranked team winning every game over the first two days of play.

#1 Flin Flon vs #8 Kindersley

After spending 15 weeks in a row as the top ranked team in Canada, the Bombers struggled down the stretch of the regular season. They went 4-6-0-1 in their final 11 games; however, they have re-focused and they made quick work of the Klippers to take a two games to none lead in their best-of-seven.

Following a 4-0 win in game one, Alexi Sylvestre had three goals in the first period of game two as the Bombers went on to win 8-0. The series now switches to the home of the Klippers for games three and four, on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

#2 Melfort vs #7 Estevan

They were not perfect defensively on Saturday, but they sure were offensively. In fact, the Mustangs offensive brass showed up in full force over the weekend with 12 goals to take a two games to none lead over the Bruins. 

Five different Mustangs scored on Friday in a 5-1 win and in a 7-4 victory on Saturday, Aidyn Hutchinson led the way with three goals and one assist. As this series moves to Estevan, tensions could boil over. 

With just more than three minutes left in Saturday's game, there was a line brawl which saw eight players get ejected from the game. Game three goes Tuesday, game three will be played Wednesday.

#3 Humboldt vs #6 Weyburn

While some projected this series to go a long time because of some extremely solid Weyburn goaltending, that was not the case over the weekend. While it still could turn into a longer series, the Broncos scored 13 times in two victories on home ice.

Boris Kofman scored twice in a 6-1 Humboldt win in game one and seven different Broncos scored in a 7-4 win on Saturday. 

#4 Battlefords vs #5 Melville

Two great hockey games, no wins for the Melville Millionaires. Battlefords scored a pair of goals late to put game 1 away in a 4-1 win and in game two, they held on late for a 2-1 victory.

Just like the Estevan series, this has been a very testy series as well and if things don't go the way of Melville on Tuesday, things could get ugly.