The Manitoba Junior Hockey League regular season is one that consists of 54 games over nearly seven months. Following that, the top four teams in the West Division and the top four in the East Division earned a berth in the playoffs.
Opening night for the playoffs was back on Friday, March 25 while the Dauphin Kings opened their playoffs one night later. Now just about a month and a half later, the Turnbull Cup trophy will be in the building on Friday night at the T.G. Smith Centre.
It was in the building on Sunday when the Steinbach Pistons were one win away from hoisting the title; however, Dauphin came up clutch on home ice and downed the Pistons, 2-0.
The game was scoreless until 5:09 into the second period when Garrett Hrechka got a stick on a shot from Colby Jaquet and the puck beat Will Hambley. That goal would stand up as the game-winner and Logan Calder sealed the victory late in the third.
It was Hrechka’s third goal of the playoffs, he also scored in game four in Dauphin.
“It was exciting, I’m glad I was able to help get the boys rolling,” said Hrechka. “I just have to play my part and I was in the right spot at the right time.”
The equation is very simple. The winner of Friday night’s game will be crowned Turnbull Cup champions and will earn the right to compete in the Centennial Cup later this month in Estevan.
Dauphin has been the battle-back kids in this series so far as they trailed 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2. Now the series is going to a decisive seventh game.
“We have a lot of depth upfront and on the back end as well,” said Hrechka. “We just continue to battle and now we need to continue doing just that.”
The first four games of the series featured plenty of goals. The teams alternated 5-1 wins in games one and two then Steinbach won 5-4 in overtime in game three. Dauphin would respond in a big way by downing the PIstons, 5-2, in game four. Game five saw Will Hambley record a shutout and then Carson Cherepak did the same thing on Sunday with a 24 save performance.
It’s always been Garrett’s dream to play for his hometown junior team and he’s found a way to come up clutch for the team in this series.
It all comes down to one game between the top two teams in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and the puck drops at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, you can hear the game with Darnell Duff on 730CKDM.