HTJHL Playoffs preview

Playoffs are scheduled to begin this week after a 24-game regular season in the Hanover Tache Junior Hockey League. For a third straight season Red River Mudbugs (21-2-0-1) won the regular season title. The Mudbugs, who are the defending league champions, will have a first round bye.

Red River will be a favorite to repeat with the top six scorers in the league all wearing the Mudbugs sweater. League MVP Skylar Klassen (20g, 32a), Tristen Dueck (50 pts), Troy Lehmann (48 pts), Adam Zalluski (44 pts), Kirby Sawatzky and Steven Baker power the top scoring offense which finished with 174 goals (Lorette was second best with 106).

Between the pipes Tyler Sagness sported an HTJHL second-best 2.93 GAA and .907 save%. Chris Friesen won all six games started for the Mudbugs giving the champs a solid last line of defense.

Quarterfinals preview (best-of five)

2) Lorette Comets vs 7) Grunthal Red Wings

The Comets (17-6-0-1) finished comfortably in second place and should have little trouble advancing over Grunthal who took just three points during the season. Lorette had four players with at least 20 points led by Liam Grossman (14g, 18a) and Kaan Bitchok (12g, 18a). They also have Noah Fournier (10-2-0-1; 2.43 GAA, .936 save%) who was awarded top goaltender by the HTJHL.

3) Springfield Xtreme vs 6) Mitchell Mohawks

One season after sharing the top spot in the league table Springfield (15-8-1-0) will face the Mohawks (7-16-1-0) in their quarterfinal. Riley Darragh led the Xtreme in scoring with 26 points while Trey Blank – the best goaltender name is history – posted impressive numbers (2.96 GAA and .922 save%).

Ryan Friesen (27 points), Matthew Broesky (24 points) and Seth Doerksen (21 points) were amongst league leaders for Mitchell. They will need a team effort and strong goaltending to have a chance for an upset.

4) Steinbach Huskies vs 5) St. Adolphe Hawks

One season after posting just a single victory Steinbach (12-10-1-1) put together a solid regular season which included a 7-game win streak in December. With their position solidified the Huskies faltered some late losing six of their last eight games.

Top forward award winner Miguel Chartier (16 goals, 12 assists) leads the Huskies while Nico Chiasson and Zach Cumming both posted more than 20 points. Bailey Funk (3.73 GAA, .902 save%) and Tynan Manness (3.23 GAA, .890 save%) each played significant minutes during the regular season.

The Huskies took three of four head-to-head matchups with St. Adolphe in the regular season.



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