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This article was published 29/10/2020 (449 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Hanover Tache Junior Hockey kicked off the 2020-21 campaign last weekend with a busy six games on the slate.
After the Landmark Blues were throttled 12-0 by the Springfield Xtreme Saturday night in Landmark, it appeared the Blues, back in the league after a more than 20-year absence, were going to hit the win column the following night in La Broquerie.
After taking a 4-1 lead into the third, the final 20 minutes saw a flurry of eight goals as the Habs eventually pulled it out by a 7-6 score on the winner from Vaughn Dupre, shorthanded no less, with just 22 seconds remaining in regulation.
In other weekend games, Grunthal defeated La Broquerie 9-4, Lorette outscored Niverville 7-2, Red River stopped St. Adolphe by a 5-2 score and Steinbach also defeated Springfield 5-2.
In the season opener Friday night at Grunthal, Hayden Wiebe paced the Wings with a pair of goals while Matthew Hill had a goal and two helpers.
Vaughn Dupre scored three of the four La Broquerie goals. Dupre, the former Steinbach Piston, playing his final year of junior in La Broquerie, certainly made his presence felt in his first HTJHL game.
Opening weekend continued on Saturday with three games on the schedule.
That included Springfield’s blowout victory over the Blues as Matt Slezak was tested only 14 times in posting the shutout in the 12-0 final. Blake Stelmaschuk led the way for the Xtreme with three goals and an assist while Tyler Chapko also had a four-point outing on two goals and two assists.
At Ile des Chenes, the Niverville Clippers, playing their first HTJHL game in more than five years, had their hands full with the Lorette Comets, who downed the Clippers 7-2.
Leading the way for the Comets were Kaan Bitchok, with two goals and an assist and a goal and two helpers from Troy Beauchemin. Beauchemin is also playing his final year of junior with the Comets after spending the past two seasons in the MJHL with the Steinbach Pistons.
Bailey Hiebert scored both goals for the Clippers in their return to the HTJHL.
At St. Adolphe, the Hawks, back in the HTJHL after a one-year hiatus as the HTJHL grew by three teams this season, lost 5-2 to the Red River Mudbugs.
The Hawks took a 2-1 lead into the third before the Mudbugs responded with four unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes, including two by Braden Hildebrand.
Stephane Boulley for the Mudbugs and Noah Morin for the Hawks, each made 41 saves in the game.
Sunday night at Oakbank, the Steinbach Huskies saw their first action of the season as they skated away with a 5-2 victory over the Springfield Xtreme. Caleb Paisley paced the Pistons with a pair of goals.
Meanwhile, back to that Blues-Habs tussle Sunday night at La Broquerie.
Scoreless through most of the first period, Hunter Neufeld staked the Habs to a 1-0 lead late in the opening frame. But it was all Landmark in the second as they responded with four unanswered, including the first goal for the Blues since their return to the league, scored by Jacob Penner early in the second.
But that 4-1 Landmark lead did not stand up very long in the third period as the Habs erupted for five straight goals to go up 6-4. But the Blues weren’t done as they scored twice, including the tying marker by Ethan Warkentine on the powerplay with only 1:16 remaining, as the Blues had a two-man advantage.
With the game now tied, and with the Blues still on the powerplay and looking for the winner, it was Vaughn Dupre that broke loose on a partial breakaway and scored the shorthanded winner while falling down.
Not only was it the winning goal, but it also completed his hat trick in the most dramatic of fashions as part of a four-point outing and he now leads the league in scoring with six goals and seven points in two games. Caleb Freynet-Funk chimed in with two goals and two assists for the Habs while Ethan Warkentine paced the Blues with two goals and two assists.
And as disappointing as this loss was for the Blues, their time will come. They are still just getting their feet wet in this league. After all, look at what the Habs went through last season, as they went 0-25. That’s right, they lost all 25 of their games.
Kudos to the Habs for persevering through last season. Habs’ coach Mitch Nadeau says "it was just a huge relief to win that game, especially being down 4-1, it was an exciting time for all of us to finally get a win."
League play resumes tonight (Thursday) at Oakbank as the Springfield Xtreme host the Lorette Comets in a re-match of last year’s championship series. When play was suspended last spring, Springfield had just won the opening game of the best of seven finals vs. the Comets.
It will be another busy weekend coming up as there are another five games on the HTJHL schedule, including Friday night at Grunthal as the Red Wings host the Red River Mudbugs at 8:00 p.m.