On Tuesday, Feb. 4, the then-fifth-place Churchill Bulldogs took on the then-third-place Springfield Sabres in Price Division action in the Winnipeg High School Hockey League. The Bulldogs had really been on a roll in 2014 with a record of 10 wins and 1 loss as the regular season ended and they got geared up for the playoffs.
The first period began with early pressure from the Sabres although Bulldog goaltender Bryson McNeil was solid. The game was fast-paced and both teams rose to the occasion, playing a hard, physical and well-executed style of hockey.
The period ended in a 0-0 tie and the second started much the same as the exciting first. Springfield ended up in the penalty box and the Bulldogs capitalized. After some fancy puck handling by McNeil, forward Liam Waugh took off on a breakaway, getting a great shot away and the puck was buried on the rebound by Will Reimer to put the Dawgs up 1-0.
Springfield had power plays of their own, although the Dawgs’ penalty kill was aggressive and composed holding off the Springfield attack.
A fast-paced opening began the third period as the teams battled back and forth with chances on both sides. Halfway through the period, McNeil made a huge save on a Springfield breakaway and a couple minutes later, on the power play, captain Dustin Jackson put in a goal of his own, giving the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. With just under eight minutes remaining, the Sabres scored to keep the game interesting.
Then Ryan Shade came in on a rush, made a great move to avoid a hit and took a shot, scoring top-shelf off his own rebound to seal the deal. The game finished 3-1 in favor of Churchill.
The last time I watched the team play was its first regular season game and I know I was hard on the guys but they have grown immensely since then.
This time around I have no choice but to be more kind; the guys played a great high-tempo, physical and organized game and the future looked bright as they prepare for a playoff run.
I wish them all the best! Go Dawgs!
(Editor’s note: At press time, Churchill had won its first two Price Division playoff games, 6-0 and 4-2 over Collège Béliveau.)
Dan Sylvestre is a community correspondent for Fort Rouge.