Huskies leap into HTJHL finals with dominant performance
The Steinbach Huskies are hoping to make their final season inside the Centennial Arena at the T.G. Smith Centre a memorable one, and appear right on track to do that.
After a dominant regular season earned a first-round bye in the Hanover-Tache Junior Hockey League (HTJHL) playoffs, the Huskies defeated the Niverville Clippers in five games in the semi-finals. Steinbach now awaits the winner between the Red River Mudbugs and Springfield Xtreme, with game six of their series set to take place Thursday night.
It’s already been an outstanding year for the Steinbach franchise, which put together a sparkling regular season, only losing twice across 23 games, with a goal difference of over plus-100.
The Huskies showed some rust to start the playoffs. The team played their final regular season game Feb. 3, and due to the first-round bye, didn’t play again until nearly three weeks later.
The Clippers took advantage to take game one 4-2 in Steinbach, giving the Huskies their third loss of the season, but were quickly bounced after that initial win.
In four straight wins, Steinbach outscored Niverville 25-3, including a 9-0 win in game two, quickly avenging the game one loss.
Blair McGowan plays defense for the Huskies, and said the team is a tight-knit group heading into the finals.
“All the boys are rolling, so you love to see it,” McGowan, who has spent five years in a Huskies jersey, said after the victory.
McGowan added the key to eliminating a team is to do all the cliched hockey things necessary, like getting pucks deep, rolling lines, and getting shots on net.
As for the season so far, despite Steinbach’s gaudy offensive numbers, McGowan said much of their success comes from taking care of business at the other end of the ice.
“The key was defense-first,” he said.
“We focused a lot on that in practice, and it played out in the games perfectly.”
If Springfield is able to win game six of their semi-final series, then team officials guessed the finals could start as soon as Sunday in Steinbach.
Whichever team the Huskies end up playing, McGowan and the Huskies will need to be ready for a battle.
“We gotta come out a little bit harder in the first period, we had a couple slow ones in (the series against Niverville),” he said.
“But if we keep doing what we’re doing, I’m sure we won’t have a problem.”
If a game seven is needed in the other series, it would be played on Saturday, more than likely meaning a longer wait to get the championship series underway.
Steinbach’s leading scorer in the regular season, Brandon Thiessen, missed the semi-finals due to injury, but is projected to return to the ice for the finals.