By Craig Stein
First Title Since 1990
For the first time since 1990, the Nipawin Hawks are SJHL Canalta Cup Champions. The Hawks ended the 28 year drought Tuesday night with a 2-1 Game Seven victory over the visiting Estevan Bruins, and will now advance to the Anavet Cup against the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Champion Steinbach Pistons.
Hawks’ captain Carter Doerksen opened the scoring with just over five minutes to go in the first period. Bruins’ captain Jake Fletcher would return the favour 12:53 into the second period to tie things up with his league-leading 11th goal of the post-season. It stayed that away until SJHL Defenseman Of The Year Josh McDougall notched a powerplay goal during a four minute powerplay at 8:04 of the third, and that was stand up as the winner.
Shots were 34-27 in favour of Nipawin, with Declan Hobbs making 26/27 saves in the win, and Bo Didur turning away 32/34 in goal for the Bruins. Hobbs finished the playoffs 11-5, 2.10 GAA, .929%, 1 SO, while Didur was 10-3, 2.35, .930%, 1 SO.
Hawks’ forward Brandan Arnold was held off the scoresheet in Game 7, but led his team with 10 playoff goals and 21 points in 16 games, and was named Playoff MVP.
The ANAVET Cup returns for the first time since 2011-2012, and it starts in Steinbach with Games 1 & 2 this Friday and Saturday. The series will shift to Nipawin for Games 3, 4, and if necessary Game 5, with Game 3 expected to go next Tuesday.