Kings earn MJHL crown with victory over Pistons
The Dauphin Kings ended a 12-year championship drought Wednesday night.
Sixteen-year-old rookie Brayden Dube’s third goal of the post-season with less than nine minutes remaining in the third period lifted the Kings to a 2-1 triumph over the Steinbach Pistons in Game 7 of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League final before an overflow crowd of 1,474 at T.G. Smith Centre.
Kings goaltender Carson Cherepak, who finished with 34 saves and captured playoff MVP honours, may have saved a championship when he stopped Travis Hensrud on a breakaway with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Dawson Milliken, a 19-year-old Steinbach forward, opened scoring with a fifth post-season marker at 7:10 of the first period.
The visitors evened the score at 1-1 when overage forward Logan Calder sniped a short-handed goal 1:21 into the middle frame. It was his seventh of the playoffs.
Steinbach goaltender Will Hambley made 18 stops.
The Kings, who had not reached the league final since losing to the Winnipeg Blues in 2013-14, have now won the Turnbull Cup eight times — 1968-69, 1969-70, 1971-72, 1976-77, 1982-83, 1992-93 and 2009-10 — since their inception in 1967.
Wednesday’s victory earned Dauphin a berth in the Centennial Cup national junior A championship, slated for Estevan, Sask., May 18-29.
The Brooks Bandits (AJHL), Estevan Bruins (SJHL), Flin Flon Bombers (SJHL), Red Lake Miners (SIJHL), Longueuil Collège Français (QJHL), Ottawa Junior Senators (CCHL) and Summerside Western Capitals (MHL) have already qualified for the 10-team championship tournament.
The Pistons have become a league power since the Beausejour Blades franchise was relocated to Steinbach prior to the 2009-10 season.
Paul Dyck, the club’s head coach since the middle of the 2011-12 season, added general manager’s duties to his job title in the summer of 2012.
Since then, the Pistons won Turnbull Cup titles in 2012-13 and 2017-18, reached the final in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and were favoured to win again in 2019-20 before the playoffs were cancelled due to the pandemic.
BLUE-LINES: MJHL MVP Braden Fischer has been named one of five finalists for the Canadian Junior Hockey League national MVP honours. The 19-year-old Virden Oil Capitals forward finished third in league scoring with 74 points in 52 regular-season games.