Twins have MMJHL top prize in mind


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Fort Garry

Fort Rouge

Going into the second half of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League season, the Fort Garry/Fort Rouge Twins find themselves near the top of the league and right in the mix to position themselves well for the playoffs to come.

“Our team is starting to believe in themselves,” Twins general manager Kris Menard said. “We’ve got a great group of guys. They’ve been coming to work at all our practices.”

Menard said he’s been impressed with the team’s tenacity, as it worked through some rough patches as a group.

Supplied photo by David MacDonald

Captain Owen Ostermann prepares to disrupt an opponent breaking out of his zone.

“It hasn’t been easy. It’s tough. You’re battling some inconsistencies, but our guys have stepped up to the challenge, and that’s what we wanted to see. We have lots of talent in our locker room. It’s about fostering that potential and trying to bring it to the ice.”

At press time, the team was tied for third in the league, just three points back of the St. Vital Jr. Victorias for second place. While the standings are tight in most of the top half, the St. James Jr. Canucks have separated themselves from the top of the pack, sitting nine points up on the second place team (as of Jan. 12).

Still, Menard thinks his Twins have what it takes to upset the defending champion Jr. Canucks.

“They’re an excellent hockey club and for us to compete with the Canucks, we have to match their intensity level… We look back in the first half of the season, and there are games that we know we should’ve won. We didn’t bring our best effort. We feel we could’ve been right next to St. James if we would’ve been consistent, and I think we’re starting to see that in our play,” Menard said.

Team captain Owen Ostermann — who Menard called Ozzy, in traditional hockey-nickname style — said the team has been starting to click, with all players “buying into all the systems.”

Ostermann, who is the team’s leading scorer with 12 goals and 29 assists through 27 games, said the team’s top quality so far is its special teams.

Killing penalties at 88.1 per cent and scoring on the power play at a 33.3 per cent clip puts the team at the top of the league in both categories, well above even the red-hot Jr. Canucks.

Supplied photo by David MacDonald

Goaltender Brenden Birch-Hayden gets focused for a game.

Eighteen-year-old goaltender Brenden Birch-Hayden, in his first year with the club, agreed with Ostermann that the team is starting to find its identity.

“The last couple of games, we really competed and it showed,” he said. “I think if we can play with speed and put the puck in the net, work on our D-zone a little bit, then it’ll come.”

Birch-Hayden said he’s fairly happy with his play so far this season, but is working on staying out of his own head and keeping things simple.

“If I keep a clear mind, I think I’ll get the outcomes I want,” he said.

Cody Sellar

Cody Sellar
Community Journalist

Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at or call him at 204-697-7206.

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