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C-Hawks meet Shamrocks for THHL crown, Oil Kings wrap up

Miniota-Elkhorn C-Hawks faceoff against the Killarney Shamrocks on Saturday, March 23.
Rivals for the THHL West Division Finals: in early March, Miniota-Elkhorn C-Hawks (blue) and Virden Oil Kings shake following an Oil Kings loss in Virden's TOGP arena.

The Miniota-Elkhorn C-Hawks and the Killarney Shamrocks will do battle for Tiger Hills Hockey League supremacy.

The THHL championship series pits two senior squads that both compiled 16-2-0-0 records during the regular season against each other. One of the defending champion C-Hawks’ losses was against the Shamrocks in the lone meeting between the two clubs this winter.

“Our team is well aware of the challenges of playing a well-rounded team like Killarney,” Miniota-Elkhorn coach Garth Mitchell said. “We will need a solid team effort in all facets of the game. We will need good puck management all over the ice and have to outwork Killarney in order to have success.”

The championship series gets underway March 23 in Killarney. Miniota-Elkhorn hosts the next day in Hamiota as ice plant issues in Elkhorn have caused the team to find other places to play. Game three of the best-of-five series is March 27 back in Killarney. If needed, game four takes place in Virden on March 30 and game five is March 31 in Killarney.

The C-Hawks are 8-0 so far in the postseason as they have swept their three West Division series. Cory Gardham has backstopped the team to seven of its wins and recorded a 2.86 goals against average. Jason Bowles has led the THHL postseason with 29 points in eight games. Taylor Sanheim has a league-best 14 post season goals.

The deep C-Hawks have received important contributions from a variety of players. For example, Miniota-Elkhorn’s Drayton Shiner tallied three goals and seven points in 12 regular season games. In six postseason contests, he has already tied that number of goals and surpassed that points total by recording 11.

 “Drayton is a young player with a good skill set and has taken advantage of his offensive opportunities,” Mitchell said.

The Shamrocks are 8-1 in the playoffs. The lone contest that they dropped was 6-4 to MacGregor in the opening game of their East Division semifinals. Isaac Friesen paces Killarney with 22 playoff points in nine games to sit behind Jason and Brad (23 points) Bowles in league postseason points. He also has a league-best 18 assists in the postseason. Bryce Enns and Rylan Gudnason lead the Shamrocks with 11 goals each. Goaltender Brian Archibald had six wins and a 2.00 goals against average.

Oil Kings Have Successful Season

The Virden Oil Kings’ season ended in the THHL West Division finals in a 3-0 series loss to the C-Hawks.

“After losing in the second round last season; getting to the league semifinal was big for us this year,” Virden coach Ryan Mathieson said. “We obviously had league title aspirations but do take pride in getting to the final in a strong West Division. We had to beat some real good teams and ended up losing to the defending provincial champion Miniota-Elkhorn and learned a lot from that run. We are looking to come back next year and put those learnings to use with another competitive squad. None of this happens without the tremendous support we get from the community; from our families at home, the volunteers at games, all the fans who support us at home and on the road, the generous sponsors and the coaches and players who make senior hockey a priority in their busy lives.”

The Oil Kings started the season with a 2-2-0-1 record. It finished up at 13-4-0-1 to place second in the West Division standings behind the C-Hawks. In the West Division quarterfinals, Virden swept Deloraine. 2-0, and then got by Rivers, 3-2, in the division semifinals.

“We had a few tough losses early in the season and it took a bit for the team to find consistency,” Mathieson said. “Just before the Christmas break. we started finding our confidence and put some wins together. Our success comes from having all lines contributing, while getting timely goaltending. The THHL is a strong league and we had to come to play every night to earn a win. We had to win out our regular season schedule to get the second seed in the West and I think that helped us come into playoffs playing the right way.”

Jeremy Johnson led the Oil Kings in the playoffs with 11 goals and 16 points. Andrew Gerrand and Devon LeBlanc each had 10 assists. Goalie Tristin Rinn collected five wins.

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