The Miniota-Elhorn C-Hawks proved they belonged among the province’s best.
The squad went 2-1 in the Manitoba Senior A provincial tournament. The team just missed out on competing for the provincial title as only the top two of the four teams in the round robin advance to a one-game playoff.
“After we found out that we had been eliminated, it was a tough pill to swallow but every single guy got together to hang out and the conversation immediately went to what next year was going to look like and how we were going to win that provincial title,” coach Tyler Mitchell said.
C-Hawks forward Dustin Fisher said the provincial event was an enjoyable and challenging experience.
“The tournament is a lot of fun as you’re playing the other leagues’ best,” he said. “Such a short tournament and there is no room for error. Five bad minutes can mean the difference between making the finals and not. It’s really tough losing out. It’s a long, challenging grind to get to that point and even tougher to get back the following year.”
In Rivers on March 28, the North Central Hockey League Champion C-Hawks beat the Boissevain Border Kings, the Tiger Hills Hockey League winner. The game went to double overtime with the C-Hawks prevailing 9-8, on a Jason Bowles’ goal. It was his fifth goal of the game and his sixth point of the night.
“Bad things kept happening, but we just kept battling back and eventually broke through,” Mitchell said.
On March 31, in Winnipeg, the C-Hawks fell 6-4 to the St. Anne Aces of the Carillon Senior Hockey League. Ste. Anne led 2-1 after the first period. Miniota-Elkhorn outscored the Aces, 3-1, in the second session to take a 4-3 lead. St. Anne scored three goals in the third.
“They really had us on our heels early with their speed and forecheck and it took us a while to catch up to the pace,” Mitchell said. “Then in the last 10 of the third, a couple unfortunate bounces and missed assignments saw our 4-3 lead turn into a 6-4 loss.”
The C-Hawks closed out the tournament with a 11-1 romp over Morden of the Southeastern Manitoba Hockey League last Friday. As they were already eliminated, Morden did not play some of their top players. However, Mitchell said the C-Hawks went out and handled their business. Twin brothers Shawn and Brad Bowles each had five points. Taylor Sanhein had four.
St. Anne went on to beat Boissevain, 7-4, to win the provincial title.
The C-Hawks’ season ended after finishing second in the NCHL regular season and winning the league championship. Mitchell said he was most pleased with the commitment and unselfishness of the team. Due to having a 25-player roster, some players had to sit out games.
“All those guys on that bubble never complained and never brought any negativity to our room,” Mitchell said. “It just goes to show how special our group of young men are. Not only are they phenomenal hockey players, but they are even better teammates and people. A coach couldn't ask for a better group to prepare for and lead.”
“This whole year was a lot of fun, such a great group with a ton of talent that should be tough to beat for years to come. I think we represented both communities and the NCHL very well this season in the league, playoffs and provincials.”