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Charleswood Hawks win MMJHL championship

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WINNIPEG -- For the fourth straight season, the Charleswood Hawks rule the roost in the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League.

Three first-period goals and some strong play from goaltender Lucas Felbel proved to be more than enough to lead the Hawks to a 6-2 victory over the Fort Garry/Fort Rouge Twins in Game 6 of the MMJHL championship final at the St. James Civic Centre Friday night.

Charleswood wins the best-of-seven series 4-2.

It's the fourth straight year the Hawks have hoisted the Jack McKenzie Trophy and the ninth time in 11 tries they've been able to boast about being the cream of the crop in the MMJHL.

"This is the best one," captain Dillon Smith said. "I've been here for all four, so they're all pretty awesome, but this one just feels a little more special. I'm so happy right now."

Felbel, the playoff MVP, said watching his club grab the early advantage made his life a lot easier Friday. Once his mates provided him with a comfortable margin of error, things just relaxed throughout the entire club.

"It takes the pressure right off me when we can jump out to a lead like that," he said. "After that, we relaxed and started playing our own game. We just fired on all cylinders and everybody trusted each other."

Charleswood finished 17 points ahead of Fort Garry/Fort Rouge in the regular-season standings, but the Hawks couldn't shake the pesky Twins at time during the series -- two of the games were decided in overtime.

But the champs flexed their muscles when they needed to.

"We knew if we brought a consistent work level that we'd hopefully be successful," said head coach Stephen George. "This is the final, right? We didn't really need any extra motivation. Overall, I thought our whole group played well in the playoffs."

After giving Fort Garry/Fort Rouge some life Tuesday night (the Twins staved off elimination with a 4-3 win), Charleswood made short work of their opponent in the deciding game.

The Hawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead on goals by David Lafleche, Matthew Lorange and Kyle Krzyzaniak. The Twins got on the board in the second on a Dillon Acheson goal, but the Hawks scored two more times to sit comfortably with a 5-1 lead heading into the final frame.

"We were gripping out sticks a little too tight Tuesday," Felbel said.

"We were thinking more about the win than the actual game. We had a lot more focus tonight."

Unofficially, Felbel made 27 saves for the Hawks. His counterpart, Charlie Pogue, faced 30 shots in the Twins net.

adam.wazny@freepresss.mb.ca

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