Two teams remain in the chase for the 2017 HTJHL championship! Regular season pennant winner Red River Mudbugs will face second seeded Springfield Xtreme in a best-of seven series to determine the champion.
After a tight chase in the regular season Red River (18-6-0-0) found themselves on top two points in front of second place Springfield (17-7-0-0). Earning a first round bye the Mudbugs had no trouble in their semifinal series sweeping the St. Adolphe Hawks in four-straight games. They will be a confident group carrying an eight-game win streak into the finals.
Strong goaltending has been key for the Mudbugs and Gavin Klassen has taken the reins in net. After posting a 9-2-0-0 record along with a 2.42 GAA and league-best .927 save% the veteran netminder was a perfect 4-0 in the semifinals with a .943 save%. A product of the Pembina Valley Hawks program, Klassen has experience playing with the Winkler Flyers (MJHL) and Pembina Valley Twisters (MMJHL).
Offensively the Mudbugs have a balanced squad featuring eight players that posted 20 points or more in the regular season. Tristen Dueck led all scorers with 32 points as well as three goals and three assists in the playoffs. Matthew Winter scored five goals in the semifinals after a 29-point campaign. Josh Neufeld (27 points), Jeremy Anstett (26 points), Troy Lehmann (25 points) and both Adam Zulluski and Skylar Klassen posted 24 points.
Springfield Xtreme are back in the HTJHL Finals for the second consecutive season. Their path to this championship was almost stopped in the First Round as the Mitchell Mohawks won Games 2 and 3 in the best-of five series forcing the Xtreme to consecutive elimination games. From there Springfield cruised in the semi’s sweeping third seeded Steinbach Huskies.
Leading the Springfield offense this season has been Riley Thomson (29 points), Matt Lamoureux (28 points) and Riley Welch (26 points). Welch has added 17 points in eight playoff games.
Backstopping the Xtreme is Quinn Walterson who has posted a record of 7-2 with a dazzling 1.89 GAA and .934 save%.
HTJHL Finals Schedule
Thursday, March 16 at Red River, 8:30 PM
Saturday, March 18 at Red River, 8 PM
Sunday, March 19 at Springfield, 7 PM
Wednesday, March 22 at Springfield, 8 PM
Friday, March 24 at Red River, 8 PM
Sunday, March 26 at Springfield, 7 PM
Thursday, March 30 at Red River, 8 PM
— Hanover Tache Jr Hky (@HTJHLcom) March 12, 2017