The Dauphin Kings kicked off 2019 with a 5-4 defeat.
After Winkler opened the scoring, Avery Smith and Riley Buller had Dauphin up 2-1 late in the first. With literally zero seconds on the clock, the Flyers fired a puck past Ethan Slobodzian to tie the contest up.
Winkler scored the lone goal in the second and added two in the third to take a 5-2 lead.
Dauphin fired back after that. Andrew Liwiski made it a 5-3 game before Bryon Fobair brought the contest within one goal.
With Slobodzian pulled, the Kings applied some big time pressure but they couldn’t beat Riley Morgan.
Dauphin’s now 18-17-2-2 for 40 points. That has them still in a tie for sixth in the league.
In some other action, the Grandview Comets lost 5-2 to the Russell Rams.
Dauphin's DJ Taylor-Luke's first half of his first Midget AAA hockey season is officially over and it was a pretty solid one for the 15-year-old.
He had 13 points, but the team struggled. They're in the midst of a 14-game losing streak heading into their weekend road trip.
"We definitely went into the break with our fair share of struggles and that big losing streak," said Taylor-Luke. "Going into the second half I think we can do a lot better. I love playing these guys, they're awesome. I'm really pumped up for what's next."
That next up is tomorrow night. The club heads to Thompson to play Norman twice. It's a team they've had a lot of success against this season. Parkland is 2-0 against them this season and Taylor-Luke has been great in the two games with three points combined.
Parkland has also played some other solid games this season. They beat the Winnipeg Thrashers and Pembina Valley Hawks, both teams well above the .500 mark. DJ believes it's just about going back to the basics.
"Our attitude has to be better and our preparation has to be a lot better going forward," he added. "It's going to be tough but I think we have a good group of guys. We can play way better then we have been."
The 13 points DJ has racked up this season is sixth on the team. That's something he's hoping to improve going forward.
"I'm pretty happy with the production I've had this season but I would definitely like to tack on some more points," said Taylor-Luke. "I know I have more in me. I just want to help this team win games, whether that's scoring goals or killing off a penalty. That's really the only thing that matters."
For now, it's all Rangers for the 15-year-old. In the future, he's hoping he can get the chance to play for the OCN Blizzard. They drafted him last year on June 3.
"It was an honour that they drafted me, and I hope I get to play for them one day," said Taylor-Luke. "When I do get that call, I'll be ready for it."
"I just have to keep working hard," he added.
The next time you can see Taylor-Luke and the Rangers in action is in a few days. They welcome the Midget Wheat Kings to town on Wednesday night at 7:30 at Credit Union Place.
Another MJHL season is already half over. The 2019 portion of the schedule kicked off on Wednesday when the Steinbach Pistons dominated Neepawa 6-0. Last season the Pistons won the league by 17 points. They had 100 points and Virden was the next closest with 83.
This year, it's a different story. Yes, the Pistons are still very good, but they're not atop the standings. Portage is with 58 points so far. Back with 53 is the Swan Valley Stampeders. The Pistons are in third. In fourth is the Virden Oil Capitals while the Selkirk Steelers sit in fifth.
Two teams are tied for sixth, the Dauphin Kings and Winnipeg Blues. In eighth is the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. The difference from fourth to sixth right now is just six points. All in all, the league is as close as it has been for some time.
"It's been really tight and there is a lot of parody," said Kim Davis, Commissioner of the MJHL. "From night to night, anyone can beat anyone. I certainly expect that kind of trend to continue throughout the season. There has been some separation up top, but overall, it's very close. It's a great thing for the league."
Something that's starting to change is the quality of players to come out of the MJHL. For example, Gilbert Plains Riese Gaber played a few seasons in the MJHL and now he's going to one of the best college programs to play hockey. This year, Swan River's Josh Tripp leads the entire league in points. Matt Osadick played for Team Canada West at the World Jr. A Challenge and he's going to the University of Maine. It just appears that year by year, the league is welcoming some top talent and future stars.
"I think you can credit that to the strength of the member clubs, but it really does seem that our talent pool is increasing every year," said Davis. "If our league remains competitive, that bodes well for every single team going forward."
The MJHL will once again head to Saskatchewan not long from now. The league has partnered with the SJHL for the MJHL/SJHL Showcase in Regina from January 14-15. Last year's event was the first time it took place. The success garnered last year is why it's running again. And, there is no doubt that some of the top players in our league will get recruited from this year's event.
There were also rumblings in the past that the two leagues would come together for some regular season matchups between the two leagues. That's something the MJHL is all for, but it doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon.
"We've had some serious discussions in the past about that happening and I thought we were really close to making it happen, but it's kind of stepped back now," said Davis. "I think it's mostly a result of the SJHL not wanting to do it."
"If it does heat up again, it's definitely something we would be interested in for some or all of our teams," he added.
The MJHL is back at it tonight with a couple of games. Tomorrow, 10 of 11 teams play.
Ian Tookenay spent the last two seasons playing with the Fort Frances Lakers in the SIJHL. Before that, he played with the Kenora Thistles Midget AAA team. Now, the 18-year-old is in the City of Sunshine playing for the Dauphin Kings.
For the most part, Ian has been a regular as he's suited up in 31 of the team's 38 regular season games. Just like basically every single member of the team, Tookenay spent the last almost two weeks back at home with his family and friends.
"Yeah, it was a really nice break and I got to spend it with family and friends so that was great," said Tookenay. "I also went to the outdoor rink and I went ice fishing. It was nice to reset for sure."
"It's always nice to get a break and come back ready for the second half of the season," he added. "We're ready to make a push here and we want to jump up in the standings."
Tookenay made his debut for the Kings way back on September 10. Dauphin played a pre-season affair against the Waywayseecappo Wolverines and Ian made an immediate impact as he scored once in a 3-2 win.
Since then, it's been nothing but good times for the 18-year-old here in Dauphin.
"It's a great town, we have a great group of guys and a great coaching staff," added Tookenay. "Our trainer is great, our volunteers are and it really does just feel like a second home. I'm pumped up for the second half here."
Last season, Ian produced 35 points for the Lakers. This year, Tookenay's hit the scoresheet four times (1 G). He definitely wants to add some more points in the second half, but the most important thing to him is winning games.
"I mean, we have a lot of guys on this team that can put the puck in the back of the net," said Tookenay. "It's frustrating at times but I'm getting the chances so I'm not really worried. I think the points will start coming."
"The MJHL is a tough league to play in so we just need to keep working hard and good things will happen," he added.
Ian will look to hit the scoresheet tomorrow when the Kings begin a road trip in Winkler against the Flyers. You can also hear the full interview with Ian during the Dauphin Kings power play show after the 4:00 p.m. news, weather, and sports.
So many players are having great seasons in the Westman High School Hockey League, but on top of it all is Swan River's, Trey Sauder. The 15-year-old leads the league with 34 points (19 G) in just 14 games.
Three of his goals are on the power play while he also has two power play assists for the Tigers.
"It's definitely a pretty good feeling to lead the league, there are so many great players," said Sauder. "I've really been enjoying my season with the team."
"I'm just playing with a lot of confidence and I couldn't do it without my linemates," he added.
The Tigers begin their post-Christmas schedule next weekend. They play three games in three days beginning on Friday against Rivers, on Saturday they'll play Glenboro and it wraps up on Sunday against Boissevain.
This season marks Trey's first as a high school player. The past three, he's played with the Parkland Rangers. He began this season with the Midget team before deciding to return to his hometown team. Obviously, it was a good decision and he's hoping he can finish it off with a scoring title.
"I'm not trying to put any pressure on myself, but it would be really nice to win it," said Sauder. "At the end of the day though, the only thing that matters is our team winning games."
For the most part, Sauder and the rest of the Tigers have done a good job of just that, winning games. The club is in second place in the North division with a 9-4-0-1 record. That has them just three points behind the top Dauphin Clippers. The Tigers have been able to find something every team wants, success on the road. They're 6-3 away from the Centennial Arena. Their last game on the road resulted in a thrilling 8-7 win against Vincent Massey back on December 16.
"We definitely had a pretty solid first half of the season, now we just have to keep working hard so we can finish strong," added Sauder. "We need to keep playing a full 60 because it seems that we're almost asleep to start the game sometimes."
Sauder and the Tigers do have a pretty friendly second-half schedule. After next weekend, they play their final seven games on home ice at the Centennial. The regular season wraps up for the Tigers on February 10 against the currently 12-1 Killarney Raiders.
It's the most important bonspiel of the season for several curling teams in the Parkland. The 2019 Canola Growers Junior Provincial Championships start up tomorrow in Winnipeg at the Heather Curling Club.
Here are the Parkland teams that will compete and their respective schedules.
The Brandon Wheat Kings are hoping that the flip of the calendar will bring the team some more luck.
Brandon is 15-14-3-3 right now which still has them in a playoff spot, but it’s by literally the smallest of margins. They’re tied with Red Deer for the final spot but they have played one less game. Brandon has also lost four games in a row and they’re 3-7 in their last 10 games.
“Going into the Christmas break, we had some significant jerseys that resulted in some big players not being available to us,” said David Anning, Head Coach. “That means some players got more opportunities and we would have liked to see some of the guys step up more than they did.”
“We’re a younger team and guys are still finding their way,” he added. “In the second half, we’re looking to be more consistent and we have to make sure we’re ready to play every night.”
The Wheaties have just one 20-year-old on the team and that’s Peguis’ Linden McCorrister. If you remember, he played hero last year as the team eliminated Lethbridge from the WHL playoffs.
Other than that, as David said, this is a young team that will continue to learn as time goes on.
“Our guys are trying to get comfortable in this league and it’s definitely not an easy adjustment,” said Anning. “They just have to understand how to prepare for practices and be ready for every game. It’s something we stress. We don’t have many older guys but we rely on them to show the young guys the way.”
If you go back to last season, Brandon was one of the best teams in the league. Then deadline day came around and they traded away Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick, two of their best players. Now, it’s time to start thinking about the deadline day again as it’s just eight days away.
“We’ll see how everything shakes out, our roster is what it is, and we believe we have some good pieces,” said Anning. “We believe the division is available if we get on a run here. We like our personnel and we have a good group of guys. Adding a piece or two would be a nice complement to our group.”
The Wheaties begin 2019 on home ice on Friday against the Seattle Thunderbirds. Overall, Brandon plays eight of 12 games this month away from Westoba Place.
On home ice, Brandon is 9-7-1-2 this season while they’re 6-7-2 on the road.
Coming into this season, Swan Valley Stampeders Dane Hirst was a guy who did his job very well on the back end and he tossed in the odd point here and there. Now, the third year Stamp from Lac Du Bonnet isn’t only doing his best job on the back end, but he’s lighting it up offensively as well.
The 19-year-old already has 29 points in 33 games. That's the third most points from a defencemen in the league. The Stampeders are also having their best year ever in Dane’s most productive year ever. With a 24-7-3-2 record, the club is just five points back of the first place Portage Terriers.
“Yeah, we brought in a really good team this year, and we faced quite a bit of adversity right before the season losing Taurean,” said Hirst. “The staff here did a really good job recruiting a great coach and he’s come in and we’re playing some really good hockey. It’s been a solid year.”
Last year in 60 games, Hirst had 17 points. With already 12 more points in 27 fewer games, it just shows how hard Dane worked in the off-season to improve his game offensively.
“Obviously something I stress on is my defensive game because that’s what I need to excel at,” said Hirst. “Once I got that down, I’m just trying to move the puck as quick as I can then I try to join rushes. I had a lot more confidence heading into training camp this year and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of using that confidence to my advantage.”
“I’m definitely happy with my game right now,” said Hirst. “But, I can still get better. I just have to keep working really hard every day.”
Dane’s first chance at picking up point #30 comes up in a few days. Swan Valley begins 2019 on home ice against the Selkirk Steelers on January 5.
“I’m honestly not really worried about putting up points, I just want this team to succeed,” added Hirst. “I mean it’s always on the back of my mind, but I don’t stress about that. If I play how I know I can, the points will come.”
All in all, it’s been a highlight year for the 19-year-old and the rest of the team. “Yeah, it’s been a super exciting time to be a part of this team,” said Hirst of all the success so far.
“My first two years here weren’t bad, but this one is definitely the best and it’s really exciting to fight for first place.”
Swan Valley will play 11 games this month which includes Saturday’s tilt against Selkirk. Five of the 11 games will also come at the Centennial Arena, where the Stamps’ are 14-3 this season.