The record says it all: Peguis Juniors, first place, Keystone Junior B Hockey League – 28-2-0-1. For the first 31 games of the 2012-13 KJHL season, there has been no team in the same class as Farron Cochrane’s Peguis Juniors and with only five games remaining in the regular season – the playoffs start in mid-February – it’s unlikely anyone is going to catch them.
With a 9-7 win over Ste. Rose on Friday night, the best team in junior B hockey team, perhaps in all of Canada, all but mathematically wrapped up first place. The Juniors are now 11 points ahead of second-place Arborg and while the Juniors have five games remaining, Arborg still has seven. The magic number, however, is one point.
With former OCN Blizzard star Ryan Delorme in goal and such provincial stars as former OCN Blizzard forwards Matthew Cameron and Presley Kirkness, high-scoring Wayne Folster and big, hard-nosed defenseman Joseph Sutherland up front, the Juniors have become the most dominant team in the KJHL this season.
However, it’s not so much the players they’ve had on their roster all season, but the three players they’ve added to the lineup this month that have made the Juniors so incredibly powerful.
Despite a dispute with Arborg, the Juniors have now officially acquired last year’s scoring champion, Jordan Anderson. Heading into the weekend, Anderson had 13 goals and 20 assists in just 13 games, since joining the Juniors from the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues.
Meanwhile, the Juniors acquired the league’s leading scorer Skylar Tait-Reaume from the Norway House North Stars on Jan. 18 and he’s been a monster since joining the team.
On Jan. 6, his last game with the North Stars, Tait-Reaume had eight goals and an assist in a 10-7 win over the OCN Storm. In his first game with Peguis 12 days later, he had four goals and two assists as the Juniors blasted the St. Malo Warriors 13-4.
And on Jan. 4, defenseman Ralph Cochrane, who left the OCN Blizzard at the end of 2012, played his first game of the season for Peguis and his father, head coach Farron Cochrane. With Cochrane, Anderson and Tait-Reaume added to the roster, this might be the greatest all-aboriginal team ever assembled in Manitoba.
“The guys are playing good, but they could be better,” said Cochrane. “About 75 per cent of the team comes from the community. It’s a pretty good lineup now.”
It’s a team that is making the community proud.
“This is one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” said community councilor Mike Sutherland, who also happens to be Joseph’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 giving all of his energy to this team. He’s doing everything he can to make it a winner.”
Cochrane has not only made the Juniors a winner, he might have made them national championship material.
THE 2012-13 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