A city final rematch for high school boys' hockey is set.
The No. 1 St. Paul’s Crusaders sunk the No. 8 Kelvin Clippers 3-0 in one Milk Provincial "AAA/AAAA" Hockey Championships semifinal at Gateway Recreation Centre on Saturday afternoon. The No. 4 River East Kodiaks dispatched the No. 3 Oak Park Raiders in similar fashion, securing a 2-0 victory in the other semi.
The two victors will meet Monday night at the St. James Civic Centre at 7:30 p.m.
St. Paul’s downed River East for the Winnipeg High School Hockey League title, completing a best-of-three sweep with a 5-1 victory on March 3.
In the early game, Kelvin controlled the opening moments, as Ian Wiens’ low shot was blocked by the right leg of St. Paul’s goalie Ben Thorlakson, who stymied Payton Boguski on a breakaway after defenceman Spencer Ferbers misplayed a high Kelvin clearing attempt.
Kelvin goalie Nathan Dickson was strong early on, robbing Crusader David MacDonald point blank.
St. Paul’s got on the board late in the frame, as Zach Sackett deflected a point shot from Xander Tachinski with exactly a minute to go. St. Paul’s was without Sackett’s services immediately afterward, though, as he was assessed a 10-minute misconduct on the play. Head coach Andrew Harder said after the game the misconduct was assessed because of a problem with Sackett’s mouthguard.
The Crusaders took a 2-0 lead in the second stanza as MacDonald got his revenge. Shortly after St. Paul’s killed off the first penalty of a five-on-three, and with Brandon Paradoski still off for holding, MacDonald weaved through a pair of Kelvin defenders, pushed the puck into the empty slot, and wired a wrister underneath Dickson’s glove.
"Scoring shorthanded goals is always nice," MacDonald, a Grade 11 student, said. "I’ve tried to become more of a defensively-minded player, so a shorthanded goal is nice to get."
Kelvin pushed late to get on the board, pressuring Thorlakson with Ferbers in the box, but rang attempts off the point and tipped deflections just wide.
Tachinski sealed the deal into the empty net with a slider to shot from Thorlakson’s right.
"Their goalie stood on his head – kudos to him. Our goalie stood on his head," Harder said. "They played really well, it was a really good hockey team."
The Raiders and Kodiaks matchup was a tighter-checking affair that saw the teams go back and forth in a scoreless opening frame.
River East opened the scoring 3:01 into the second when Craig Cane beat Oak Park netminder Ben Cockwell from in tight.
Oak Park pressed to even the score late in the second with Cane off serving a too-many-men minor, firing from all over the ice. Rearguard Max Smith had the best opportunity to tally with the advantage, but his wrister from the point went off the inside of Kodiak goalie Myles Piche’s pad.
River East also looked to tally from the blue line, but Holden Bard’s howitzer ended up in Cockwell’s crest in the second’s dying moments.
The point shot worked for the Kodiaks 3:46 into the final frame as Tristan Beach Ducharme unloaded a cannon of a shot from the left point that eluded Cockwell’s glove.
Oak Park sought to half the River East lead moments while shorthanded, as Alex Peterson found himself on a breakaway with Shane Kustra-Nelson in the box. Piche’s blocker denied Peterson’s snapper, however.