During his team’s remarkable Manitoba Junior Hockey League playoff run, Winnipeg Blues head coach Don MacGillivray says he won’t pick out one, individual hero. He calls it “a team effort,” and has been pleased that “everyone has stepped up when they’ve been needed.”
Unless, as MacGillivray will admit, the talk turns to goaltending. If there is one area in which the Blues have outshone the teams they’ve faced in the post-season, it’s between the pipes.
“There isn’t really much you can say,” said MacGillivray with a grin. “Byron’s been great. We’ve been winning because of our goaltender. Even the two games we lost, we lost 1-0 and 2-1. Byron gives us a chance to win every night.”
“Byron,” is Byron Spriggs, the MJHL’s player of the week for the week ending March 31, and the most recent winner of the MJHL’s Junior A scholarship. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound netminder has been the story of the playoffs.
On Thursday, the MJHL announced that Spriggs, the 20-year-old goaltender from Winnipeg, had been awarded the RBC Junior A Scholarship in the amount of $1,000.
“I’m obviously honored to win this award,” said Spriggs, who is studying Business at the University of Manitoba. “I’m majoring in Human Resources management. When I graduate I hope to pursue employment with our family-owned company.”
Spriggs, is now one of 10 Junior A nominees eligible for a $5,000 RBC Junior A Scholarship which will be awarded at the RBC Cup (May 9-19 at Vernon, BC.).
Spriggs, who grew up at Dakota Community Centre, spent two years as the goalie with the Vincent Massey High School Trojans and even played a single game in the Manitoba Major Hockey League with the Fort Garry/Fort Rouge Twins, posted a 19-19 record this season for the Blues, in addition to a save percentage of .904 and goals against average of 2.80.
Meanwhile, just two weeks ago, he was named the Recycle Everywhere Player of the Week, ending March 30. He posted a 2-1 record after sending the Blues to a 3-1 advantage over the defending MJHL champion Steinbach Pistons in the Addision Division final. In the playoffs, Currently he has the best numbers in the playoffs. He’s 12-2-0 with a 1.73 goals against average and a .933 save percentage.
His Blues currently lead the Sher-Wood Division champion Dauphin Kings 2-0 in the best-of-seven Turnbull Cup championship series.
“We’ve been very good on special teams, the power play and penalty kill have been excellent throughout the playoffs,” said MacGillivray. “But sometimes, your best penalty killer is your goalie. Let’s make no mistake, good goaltenders make good coaches.”
Game 3 in the MJHL championship series goes Friday night at 7:30 at Winnipeg’s MTS IcePlex. A full house is expected.