On the verge of closing out a post-season that surprised almost everyone but themselves, the Winnipeg Blues are banging on the MJHL championship's door.
The Blues rocked the Dauphin Kings 4-1 front of a jam-packed crowd of about 1,400 fans at the MTS Iceplex on Friday night, driving in the knife with three goals in the game's first 10 minutes. With the win, the Blues took a 3-0 chokehold on the MJHL final series. "The ante's up pretty high now," said Blues goalie Byron Spriggs, who was nearly perfect through 34 shots. "The boys want it really bad. They're flying out there, and they're working really hard."
Indeed, it took the Blues just 73 seconds to launch their first strike, a goal from blue-liner Lucas Skrumeda, who came off the bench and took a dish from Taeron Lewis and beat Kings goalie Michael Stiliadis.
"We had a nice crowd, and to hear 'em cheer was just phenomenal," Skrumeda said. "That's what we talk about in the room... We know once we get 'em on our heels and this crowd gets behind us, we'll be going good."
That's exactly what happened. The Blues added two more goals before the period was even half over, including a power-play goal from forward Warren Callis, and a strike from Kamerin Nault. The onslaught chased Stiliadis from the net, and Dauphin back-up Jordan Piccolino came in instead.
Not that the goalie change helped the Kings' fortunes, much. Although they peppered Spriggs with 17 shots in the middle frame, not a single one found twine. Meanwhile, Mitch Hansen scored the Blues' fourth goal, with 7:31 left to go in the second. That killed off any hope of a comeback for the frustrated Kings, who tumbled into a pile of penalties in the third.
Dauphin would finally crack the scoreboard on a power-play goal from Dillan McCombie, scuttling Spriggs' shutout with just 35 seconds left in the game. "I guess all the goalies out there feel my pain," Spriggs said, with a grin. "But it's not about the shut-out. I'm just glad we got the W... although it would have been a nice cherry on top."
The Blues will battle to complete the sweep on Sunday night in Dauphin. Puck drop is slated for 7:30 p.m.