The amazing Peguis Juniors are the champions of the Keystone Junior B Hockey League.
One of the greatest teams ever assembled in provincial Junior B hockey history, the Juniors are also one of the finest First Nation and Metis teams ever assembled in the Keystone province. And while this year’s version of the OCN Blizzard was definitely a tribute to the high skill level of aboriginal players in Manitoba’s best junior hockey league, the Juniors continue to be a tribute to winning.
Saturday night at the Selkirk Rec Complex, Jordan Anderson had a hat-trick and Presley Kirkness had a “Gordie Howe” hat-trick (a goal, an assist and a fight) as the Juniors beat the Selkirk Fishermen 7-1 to sweep the best-of-seven championship series 4-0.
With the win, the Juniors won 11 straight playoff games. They blew away the Ste. Rose Royals in the best-of-five opening round by scores of 15-1, 7-2 and 20-3. In the second round (a best-of-seven semifinal), they eliminated the St. Malo Warriors, hosts of the 2013 Keystone Cup, by scores of 4-1, 9-4, 9-0 and 9-5.
And in the final, against a very good Selkirk club, that is also loaded with First Nation and Metis players, the Juniors won by scores of 7-6, 6-3 3-1 and 7-1.
“The first game of the final series was amazing,” said Peguis councilman and longtime Juniors board member, Mike Sutherland. “The guys just weren’t ready to play. They came out flat and Selkirk built a 4-0 lead after the first period and then scored early in the second to take a 5-0 lead. Then the guys found their legs and started fighting back.”
Skylar Tait-Reaume, the Keystone League’s leading scorer this season (51 goals and 42 assists in 28 games), made it 5-1 with a goal at 2:25 of the second period. Then Tait-Reaume set up a goal by Grant Sutherland 3:05 and the Juniors started to fly. Jordan Anderson, Waylon Neault, Ralph Cochrane and Tait-Reaume scored before the end of the period and with six goals in a span of 16 minutes and 18 seconds, the Juniors had taken a 6-5 lead.
Tait-Reaume finished the game with two goals and four assists while Presley Kirkness, who scored the eventual winning goal had a goal and four assists.
Players such as Tait-Reaume, Kirkness, Anderson, Cochrane, Joey Sutherland and goalie Ryan Delorme helped the Juniors keep a remarkable streak alive. The team finished the regular season with a record of 33-2-0-1. They won 24 consecutive games to finish the season then they won 11 straight in the playoffs – a winning streak of 35 games.
There will be old timers who would argue that this year’s Juniors aren‘t close to being the best Junior B team in Manitoba history. However, it’s probably the best all-aboriginal team ever assembled in Manitoba history. A team loaded with players from Peguis and Fisher River, as well as players from Norway House, Pinaymootang and Ebb & Flow, Juniors head coach Farron Cochrane of Peguis — the former head coach of Manitoba’s provincial National Aboriginal Hockey Championship team – has put together a team that is a model for what the best First Nation and Metis players in Manitoba can accomplish.
“The guys played extremely well against a good Selkirk team,” said Sutherland on Sunday. “Farron did a great job coaching the guys and it’s amazing but about 75 per cent of the team comes from the community. It’s been a great year.”
The Juniors will now represent Manitoba at the 30th annual Keystone Cup Western Junior B Hockey Championships, hosted by the 2013 Keystone Cup Host Committee and the St. Malo Junior B Warriors,.
The tournament runs April 17th to 21st at the Saint Malo Arena and will feature teams from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Plus the top all-aboriginal Junior B team in Manitoba history.
“This is one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” said Sutherland, who also happens to be Joey’s dad. “With players like Matthew Cameron, Cody Zulyniak, Waylon Neault, Dwight Sutherland and Joseph, this is a very good team.
“And our new arena is coming along. It will be great to have that new arena ready in the next couple of years.
“And what more can you say about Farron (Coach Cochrane)? He took four months off work to coach this team full time. Farron has been the provincial coach for the past four or five years, but this year, he didn’t even apply for the provincial job. He’s been giving all of his energy to this team. He’s done everything he can to make it a champion.”
THE 2012-13 KEYSTONE JUNIOR B HOCKEY LEAGUE CHAMPION PEGUIS JUNIORS
1. G: Shane McPherson, Peguis
2. F: Aaron Sinclair, Peguis
7. D: Ralph Cochrane, Peguis
8. D: Cole Murdock, Fisher River
10. F: Matthew Cameron, Peguis
11. F: Preston Folster, Norway House
12. F: Spencer Sutherland, Peguis
14. F: Cody Zulyniak, Winnipeg
16. F: Waylon Neault, Fisher Branch
17: D: Even Spence, Peguis
18. F: Tyler McKay, Ebb & Flow
19. F: Jordan Anderson, Pinaymootang (Fairford)
20. D: Patrick Kirkness, Fisher River
22. D: Joseph Sutherland, Peguis
35. G: Ryan Delorme, The Pas
55. F: Skylar Tait-Reaume, Norway House
77. F: Dwight Sutherland, Peguis
87. F: Wayne Folster, Norway House
88. D: Grant Sutherland, Peguis
89. F: Jarrett Cochrane, Fisher River
97. F: Presley Kirkness, Fisher River
Head Coach: Farron Cochrane
General Manager: Doug Daniels
Assistant Coach: Martin Favell
Assistant Coach: Garrett McPherson
Assistant Coach/Trainer: Troy Cochrane
Trainer: Amie Lafreniere
Treasurer: Linda Sinclair