Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Centennial Cup Final preview

(Photo credits to Broad Leaf Media & OJHL Images)

OAKVILLE, ON – For the Melfort Mustangs so far this year, it has been five pre-season games, 56 regular-season games, 18 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff games, and five Centennial Cup games; 84 games in total.

It all comes down to Game #85.

The Mustangs will take on the No. 1 seed in the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings, the Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Collingwood Blues, Sunday afternoon for the Centennial Cup.

“It’s big,” said Melfort head coach and general manager Trevor Blevins pre-game.

“I was looking at the chart of the road of what it takes to get here and when you think about being down to the two final teams of Canada, it’s a pretty special feeling. Our job is not done, we have work to do today, and the guys will dial in; but when I look at it we’re really proud of the team, all the boys in that dressing room have given all that they have to get to this point.

It has been exactly 10 years and one day since an SJHL team, the Yorkton Terriers of 2014, won the National Junior A title, and a year less than two days that the Battlefords North Stars fell in last year’s national final to the Brooks Bandits.

Both Melfort and Collingwood are on extended win streaks. The Mustangs last fell in that dramatic Game 5 of the SJHL Final at the Whitney Forum in Flin Flon six contests ago; the Blues have not fallen since Apr. 24 in Game 4 of the Buckland Cup Final to the Trenton Golden Hawks, a run of seven victories.

Confidence will not be an issue.

“It is just another hockey game,” Blevins said, “that’s how we have been treating it today.

“In our pre-game meeting this morning at the hotel, we know Collingwood is No. 1 in Canada, but not today. We have to ensure we’re after it, play our game, and it is another game. We have to be mentally tough, but enjoy the day and moments, be focussed.”

The Mustangs defeated the Alberta Junior Hockey League champion Calgary Canucks in the later semifinal Saturday 2-1, while the Blues downed the Miramichi Timberwolves of the Maritime Hockey League earlier in the day 5-2.

Collingwood defeated Battlefords in last year’s Centennial Cup in the round robin and ultimately fell to the Central Canadian Hockey League champion Ottawa Jr. Senators in the quarterfinal. The last time Melfort was in the Junior A National Championship was in 2015 when Trevor Blevins’ group lost in the semifinal to the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Puck drops at 3:00 P.M. local in Oakville, 1:00 P.M. in Saskatchewan. It can be found on TSN2 and the Hockey Canada website.