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The Dauphin Clippers varsity boys and girls basketball teams are one step closer to competing for a provincial championship.

In Swan River Tuesday for one final zone championship game, both teams easily cruised past their Parkland rivals.

On the boys' side, Nick Hudyma -- as he has so many times this year -- led the team with 27 points, four assists, and five steals. Ronin Mouck had 22 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists to go along with six steals. Ryder Waggoner; meanwhile, had 10 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks.

On the girls' side, the Clippers downed the Tigers, 49-33. Both teams will now advance to a pre-qualifying tournament next weekend at a location to be determined. 

They were in a heated battle for third place in the East Division with the Portage Terriers.

Entering the Christmas break at 20-12-1, the Niverville Nighthawks were looking to pass the Terriers in the standings so they could avoid playing the top-ranked team in the first round of the Turnbull Cup playoffs. At this point, that is the Steinbach Pistons.

As we now approach the home stretch of the 2023-24 regular season, the Nighthawks are just trying to advance to the big dance. Since the flip of the calendar from 2023 to 2024, it has been a big struggle for the league's newest franchise. In their second year in the league, Niverville has won just three of their first 15 games of 2024.

Nine of the losses have come in regulation while the team has two overtime losses and one shootout loss throughout their first 15 contests. The Nighthawks made two rather large trades at the deadline that saw them add Alex Walicki and Josh Danis. Walicki had 36 points in 34 games to start the season with Swan Valley while Danis had 23 points in 31 games to start the campaign with the Stampeders. Since joining Niverville, Walicki has just nine points in 13 games while Danis has struggled heavily with one goal and three assists across 13 contests.

Not only has Niverville struggled as of late offensively, they have not been able to keep the puck out of their net. Coming off an 8-2 loss against Portage, Niverville has given up 57 goals over their last 10 games which is an average of just less than six goals allowed per game over the 10-game period. The Nighthawks have given up five goals or more in eight of those contests and six or more in six of them. 

Between the pipes, Raiden Legall, last year's top goaltender in the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League, has seen his goals-against average rise to 3.04 while Keegan Gordon's is at 3.60 to go along with his .888 save percentage.

Kevin Pauls is the team's marketing director as well as play-by-play voice and as he says, things need to change.

"If you look at the team's defence playing in front of Raiden and Keegan, I am seeing some pretty discouraging things," said Paul. "Also on the offensive side of things, the team has struggled to capitalize on the power play and that has been a big difference. The team hasn't been able to battle enough throughout a full 60-minute game."

Mired in a slump at the worst of times, Niverville is also getting used to a new man who is leading the organization on an interim basis. Last week, the club announced that they relieved Kelvin Cech of his duties as head coach and general manager. 

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Cech, who was named MJHL Coach of the Year with the Winkler Flyers in the 2019-20 season, led Niverville to the playoffs last year in the team's first season; however, the team felt a new direction was needed.

The team's chair of the board of directors, Clarence Braun commented after the news.

“Upon the recommendation of hockey operations, we decided to relieve our head coach/general manager,” says Braun. “The trend within the past three weeks was not good. We had a difficult post-Christmas last year, but we were at the least competitive. This year we were getting blown out and that was unacceptable. It’s all about players competing and not necessarily winning. We were not competing.”

On the same note, Pauls believes Kelvin won't be out of a job for long.

"Kelvin was fantastic to work with, he knows the game and he is a great evaluator of talent," said Pauls. "He has a great mind to be a coach. He is a big reason why Winkler was so successful when he left and that will be the case here in Niverville as well."

Niverville has now announced that Mike McAulay has accepted the interim role of general manager and Dwight Hirst has been hired as interim coach for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. Hirst has spent the past four seasons as head coach of the Eastman Selects, a team the Parkland Rangers will play two times this weekend in Beasujour to wrap up their season.

Kings fans will get a chance to see Dwight and the rest of the Nighthawks this weekend as Dauphin plays host to them on Saturday night at Credit Union Place. Dauphin beat the Nighthawks, 6-0, in their last meeting earlier this year. Niverville is just three points ahead of Selkirk for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division. 

The Parkland U15 Rangers are just one win away from advancing in the playoffs.

On home ice against the Winnipeg Wild Red in game three of their best-of-five series Tuesday in Swan River, the Rangers came out firing on all cylinders in the first period as they scored four times in the opening 20 minutes and they cruised the rest of the way in a 7-2 win against the Wild. 

It was a clinical performance for Parkland as they went up two games to one in the series and they can win it on Thursday in McCreary. Ben Poole led the way for Parkland with two goals while Kyle Pelletier made 35 saves in the net to record the win.

Noah Smigelsky, Josh Yakielashek, Noah Hanneson, Carter Moncrief, and Dayson Martin also scored for Parkland in the win. 

Parkland will host game four on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in McCreary. 

The Dauphin Kings dominated from start to finish Tuesday night as they picked up their 30th win of the season.

Capitalizing on four of their five power-play chances, Dauphin hammered Swan Valley, 7-1. It was Dauphin's fifth straight win against the Stampeders this season and they have outscored their Parkland rivals, 30-7, in the process.

Dauphin racked up 57 shots in the contest while Swan Valley, who have long been eliminated from playoff contention, fired just 20 as Austin Seibel made 19 saves for Dauphin to earn the win. Dauphin's first three goals of the game came on the man advantage as they inched closer to the Blizzard for second in the West. Dauphin is now two points back of them with a pair of games in hand.

Gabriel Bugeaud led the way for Dauphin with a pair of goals in the game while Aiden Murray, Naaman Hofer, Jordan Bax, and Rylan Gibbs also scored for Dauphin. Charlie Sandven scored his first goal as a King with just 30 seconds left in the game.

Ahston Paul had three assists while Trey Gnetz and Cayden Glover both had two. The Kings will look to keep it rolling on Friday night when they head to Stride Place to play the Terriers. It will mark the first time that Dauphin has gone up against Aidan Brook and Rhett Perrin since the Kings dealt them both at the trade deadline. 

The Predators soared to victory, bringing home the championship trophy to Parkland!

At the Bandits tournament in Winnipeg, they dominated their pool, defeating the Junior Pilots, Bandits #1, and Dynamo White. Their quarterfinal match against BVC from Brandon was a breeze, winning in straight sets.

Although they stumbled in the first set of the semi-final against the Winman Tide, the Predators rallied back, claiming two consecutive sets to secure the win.

In a nail-biting final against the Sturgeon Heights Huskies, they again found themselves trailing after the first set. But true to form, they fought back, taking the second set and ultimately clinching the championship with a thrilling 15-13 victory in the deciding set. What a triumphant journey for the Predators!

The Dauphin Clippers journey to a championship in Las Vegas ended in heartbreak on Monday.

On Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, the Clippers came up short against the Bow Valley Flames of Calgary, 3-2, in a shootout in a semi-final. It was a very impressive performance for Dauphin as the Flames won all four of their round-robin games, scoring 17 goals and giving up just four in the process. Jesse Hockridge and Ronin Mouck scored for Dauphin in the defeat as they finished in the top 4 as no bronze medal match was played.

In the round-robin, Dauphin won three of their four games with one game ending in a tie. A great weekend it was for Dauphin and the experience provided moments that the players and coaching staff will cherish forever.

Dauphin will now return home for one more league game on Friday when they welcome Crocus Plains to town. 

The Parkland U18 Rangers were able to manage just a single goal this weekend in a pair of losses to the Winnipeg Bruins as the Rangers season dwindles away.

On Saturday, Chase Glover made 36 saves while Tavyn Boychuk scored the team's lone goal in a 4-1 loss to the playoff bound Bruins. On Sunday, Ethan Myhre turned away 28 shots in a 6-0 loss. 

Parkland is off to Brandon on Wednesday before heading to Beasujour next weekend for a pair of games against Eastman to wrap up their season.

The Parkland U15 Rangers were facing a situation where they could have been put on the brink of elimination. 

Kyle Pelletier put together a masterful performance, Noah Smigelsky scored a pair of goals and the Rangers stayed away from that very situation as they beat the Winnipeg Wild Red, 7-4, in game two of their first-round series.

After dropping a 5-4 contest in game one, Parkland responded in a big way. On top of Noah's two goals, Brayden Budolowski, Ben Poole, Noah Hanneson, Reese Scott, and Carter Moncrief also scored for the Rangers. Pelletier finished with 43 saves in the game.

With the best of five series tied at a game apiece, the Rangers will host games three and four. Game three is Tuesday in Swan River at 7:00 p.m. and game four goes in McCreary on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. 

The Dauphin Clippers varsity boys basketball team is one step closer to earning a berth to the provincial championships.

In their first zone championship game against Swan River earlier this week, Dauphin led from start to finish and cruised in the end to a 98-50 win over the Tigers. Nick Hudyma led the way with 28 points, seven assists, five steals, and two blocks. Ronin Mouck had a monster game with 36 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and six steals. Miguel Boncodin had 12 points, four assists, and three steals.

If Dauphin is able to beat Swan River again on Tuesday, they will advance to a pre-qualifer event for the provincial event. 

Dauphin then played a tournament in Neepawa and came home with a bronze medal to add to their trophy case in what has been an impressive season on the court.

They first put up 99 points in a dominating victory with St. Laurent with Josh Larocque chipping in 12 points and Chase Kunza also had 12 points. Nick Hudyma had 25 points and 11 steals in the win.

In the team's next game, they came up short against Virden, 84-72. Josiah Seale had a double double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Dauphin would rebound in the third place match as they downed the host team, 53-49. Nick Hudyma led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds while Chase Kunza had 12 points, three steals, and four rebounds. Lucas Wood had three points, 12 rebounds and Ryder Waggoner had a monster game on the boards with 15 rebounds. 

The Swan Valley Stampeders made it a 1-1 game after 20 minutes of play.

From that point on, it was all Dauphin Kings on Saturday night as they scored five straight goals to earn their 29th win of the season as they downed their Parkland rival in convincing fashion with a 6-1 win at the Centennial Arena.

It was Dauphin's second straight win after they beat Steinbach on Friday night. Cole Sheffield earned his 24th win of the season as he finished the night with 27 saves and Dauphin went 1-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.

Jordan Bax had Dauphin's lone goal in the first period while Ethan Lintner scored on the power play for the Stampeders and that was Swan Valley's lone goal of the game.

Dauphin came out in the 2nd and fired 22 shots and found the back of the net four times. Gabriel Bugeaud, Trey Gnetz, and Joshua Schmidt all scored a single for the Kings. The highlight of the period was Alex Senf who scored a 'MICHIGAN' goal and it was his ninth marker of the season. Cayden Glover scored Dauphin's lone goal of the third as they skated off with a 6-1 victory. Dauphin now moves to 29-14-1-1.

The Kings will return to the ice on Tuesday as they welcome Swan Valley to Credit Union Place. 

It has been a mixed bag last seven days for the Dauphin Kings, but for the second time in less than a month, they have downed one of the top teams in the country.

On home ice to open up a busy stretch, the Kings held on late to beat the Steinbach Pistons in a great game, 3-2. It was Dauphin's second straight win against the Pistons after losing the first two games of the season against them.

Dauphin's penalty kill was clutch in the game. They started things by killing off a double minor early in the contest and after Alex Senf took a penalty late in the game, they killed off a 6-on-4 as they secured two big points against the top team in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. 

Cayden Glover scored the game winner as he tipped in a pass from Ashton Paul with just more than ine minutes left in the game. Alex Senf also scored in the game while Paul scored his third as a King in the victory.

Once again, Cole Sheffield was brilliant in net as he made 25 saves in the victory. The Kings will now make their way to Swan River to play the Stampeders on Saturday night. You can join Darnell Duff and Jeff Henson for the broadcast beginning with the Parkland Source for Sports pregame show at 6:45.