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C-Hawks looking to soar again

Senior hockey is great entertainment and they are back on the ice. Here's what's up for the Miniota-Elkhorn team.

After a season away from the ice, the Miniota-Elkhorn C-Hawks are looking to fly in a new-look North Central Hockey League.

The senior squad, which won back-to-back league titles in 2018 and 2019, returned to the NCHL last weekend with a dominating 10-5 victory over the Russell Rams on the road. From eight teams in 2019, the NCHL is now down to half as many, after last season’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What are the C-Hawks most excited about?

“I would have to say just getting back on the ice and seeing if we’re still capable of being the team we were two years ago,” Miniota-Elkhorn forward Curtis Gardham said. “We have lost a few key guys this year and I believe so have some of the other teams, and with the league being cut down to only four teams this year it will be interesting and fun to see where we stand with the other teams in the league.”

The C-Hawks’ competition this winter will be the Rams, Swan Valley Axemen and Waywayseecappo Warriors. This weekend the Miniota-Elkhorn squad plays in Waywayseecappo on Friday and in Swan River on Saturday. The C-Hawks home opener is Nov. 27 in Elkhorn when the Axemen visit.

The Miniota-Elkhorn squad did lose eight veterans. Moving on are Brad Cole, Kyle McLeod, Tyler Wood, Robyn McKean, Curtis Oliver, Tanner Leslie, Dustin Fisher and Kelby Minshull. Coach Garth Mitchell said the roster will be smaller due to these losses, “some very key parts”, but he noted “we did have the luxury of a large roster two years ago.”

During their championship seasons, depth was always a calling card for the C-Hawks. Even with the losses, this year looks to be perhaps much the same. Mitchell said the team has a solid group of forwards, defencemen and goaltenders returning. The team had also added couple of local players from the high school program.

“Guys are really looking forward to getting back on the ice and playing after the year away,” Mitchell said.

The C-Hawks boast several top returning forwards. That group includes Taylor Sanheim, who scored four goals in last week’s win, and Jason Bowles, who had a hat trick and four points against Russell. Fellow forward Kelsey McLeod had a goal and three points while Curtis Gardham and Bradley Bowles also lit the lamp.

On the blue line, Dillin Stonehouse, who had two assists last week; Devrin Stonehouse, and Stacy Lowes are among the players returning. Cory Gardham and Ian Oliver are back in net for Miniota-Elkhorn.

The C-Hawks’ core has been together for a number of years. Lowes said the best part of playing for the team is the opportunity to play with the guys he grew up playing hockey with at the same rink and in the same town.