For the second straight year, the Miniota-Elkhorn C-Hawks and Russell Rams will battle for the North Central Hockey League title.
In 2019, as the No. 2 seed, the C-Hawks swept the top seeded Rams, 3-0, in the best-of-five championship series. This season Miniota-Elkhorn is the top seed after going a perfect 20-0 in the regular season. The Rams had a 14-6 record in the NCHL regular season with two of those losses being 11-0 and 4-1 defeats at the hands of the C-Hawks.
“it will come down to whoever wants it more,” Kelsey McLeod
“We’ve had their number the past few years, so you know they will be itching to beat us,” Miniota-Elkhorn veteran forward Kelsey McLeod said. “We beat them twice in the regular season, but that means nothing come playoff time. It’s different hockey when it’s the finals and it will come down to whoever wants it more. We are confident in our team and the guys know what it takes to win. We are looking forward to a fast paced, physical and energetic series.”
The NCHL finals starts Friday in Russell. Game two is Saturday in Russell. The third game is slated for March 12 in Elkhorn. If needed, game four would be March 20 in Russell with the fifth game on March 22 in Elkhorn.
Both teams swept their way to the NCHL finals. C-Hawks coach Garth Mitchell said the Rams are similar to his squad “in a lot of ways with solid talent at all positions.” Miniota-Elkhorn had the league’s leading scorer in the regular season in Jason Bowles, while the Rams boasted Co-MVP Brock Nixon, who shared the award with Moosomin’s Braydon Nabholz. Russell forward Derek Falloon won the Gentlemanly Player Award. Miniota-Elkhorn’s Dillin Stonehouse was its Top Defenceman. The last time the two teams met was on Jan. 24.
“With only playing them twice all year and no games recently, it will be an interesting game-one,” Mitchell said. “We will definitely want to be playing our up-tempo game and utilize our team depth as much as possible. Success in the series will come down to outworking Russell and remaining disciplined and structured in all zones.”