The Major Pratt Trojans hockey team has come a long way in the past few years. This year, they're turning out to be a powerhouse in the Westman High School Hockey League.

With a record of 16-2-1, Major Pratt is in second place in the North Division, five points behind Dauphin. However, the Trojans have three games in hand. The key to success this season for Major Pratt has no doubt been their offence.

In their 19 games, the team has scored 137 goals. Virden leads the league with 139 goals; however, they have played two more games than Major Pratt.

Major Pratt also had a fourth-place finish at the extremely competitive Victoria Inn Invitational in Brandon earlier this season.

"The season has been going very well so far," said Kale Bomback, one of the team's top players. "We have great coaching. Brock Nixon and Chad Kilimnik really help us a lot. We play a really fast and physical game and when we're really going, I don't think there's a team that can catch us in the league."

"We're a very offensively minded team," he added. "We just scored 20 goals the other game so that certainly helped our goal total."

Major Pratt has several players that have chipped in offensively in a big way this season, one of which is Kale who will celebrate his birthday in 48 hours’ time. In his 18 games, Bomback leads the team with 45 points (15G). He's in a tie for seventh in league scoring. Bomback has four multiple-goal games this season while he had a four-point performance on three different occasions.

The Russell native is on a line with Luke DeCorby and Josh Thompson. The duo has combined for well more than 100 points.

"I play with two really good line mates, we played together last year so our chemistry is solid," continued Bomback. "I'm definitely a playmaker and both of those players can bury the puck."

The team plays four more regular-season games. Their most recent win came last night when they beat Roblin, 9-0.

Tomorrow, they'll play REMP in Reston. On Sunday and next Wednesday, they welcome Rivers and Souris to Russell, respectively. They finish their regular season next Sunday in Sandy Bay where they play the currently 17-3 Badgers.

"We just have to keep playing our game. Staying out of the box is also big for us, we've really struggled to stay out of trouble," concluded Bomback. 

Major Pratt also hosted a special game when Roblin was in town last night. Stay tuned to the news later today for more details.

Day one of the Viterra men's curling provincial championships has come to an end in Winnipeg.

Team Ray Baker is still alive. Ray, Jason Yates, Rob Fisher, and Terry Gudmundson put together a solid effort in their second game.

They beat Team Sigurdson, 10-6. The win followed a loss earlier in the day.

Also, Lawson Yates is the fifth man on Team Walter and they won their first game of the tournament. 

Swan River's Carter Watkins is playing on Team Wiebe and they won their first game as well.

For the past few years, the Gilbert Plains Trojans varsity girls volleyball team has rolled to multiple provincial titles. Wherever the team went, they seemed to bring a banner back to their school.

Gilbert1The volleyball season, however, comes to an end as the basketball season approaches and the varsity girls team has clearly continued with the winning culture that comes with being a Trojan.

In the most recent Manitoba High School Athletic Association "Power Rankings" the team is ranked as the fifth-best in the province in the "A" category. They've beaten Grandview twice this season, Winnipegosis, and Hamiota. They also took down the Dauphin Clippers varsity girls who are a "AAA" category school. 

"We have a couple of girls that have been playing for the last couple of years and they've been working really hard," said Simon Chalke, Head Coach. "I think the hard work that our team is putting in is really showing in the rankings."

"Every girl on this team has really bought into the hard working mentality and when we do that, things start to click," added Chalke. 

The team will look to continue with their strong season this weekend as they play in a tournament in Swan River. Their first game is on Friday at 1:00 p.m. against the Oscar Lathlin Wolverines. Also taking part in the tournament are Neepawa, Swan Valley, Mikisew Mikisew, R.D. Parker Collegiate, Sacred Heart (Yorkton), and Helen Betty Osborne. 

Gilbert Plains will play at least three games at the tournament and the final is set for Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

"Our expectation is just getting better every game, we've been working on some things in practice," concluded Chalke. "The good things about playing "AA" and "AAA" teams is that there aren't many expectations."

The North Central Hockey League's regular season has come to an end and that means it's playoff time for all eight teams.

Locally, that means the Grandview Comets are gearing up to begin things as they'll take on the Russell Rams in the first round in a best-of-3 series. Grandview finished in fourth place in the North Division with their 2-17-1 record. 

Despite the record, both of Grandview's wins did come against teams who showed promise throughout the season. They beat Langenburg in overtime and they finished the regular season in second place in the South Division. Grandview also got past Waywayseecappo who finished one spot higher than Grandview in the North Division.

"It's definitely not where we envisioned ourselves to be at the start of the season, we've had some trouble with our lineup throughout the year," said Kaine Morran, who is one of the veterans on the team. "With that said, we have a shot to play some playoff hockey and we're looking to get everyone out and try and string something together."

Russell finished in first in the North Division with a strong 14-6 record and they also finished second overall in the league, just behind Miniota-Elkhorn who went a perfect 20-0. Russell is led by Brock Nixon and his 41 points while Derek Falloon and Ryan Regel finished just behind with 37 and 35 points, respectively. 

Grandview struggled against Russell in the regular season as they went 0-4 and they allowed 35 goals against. 

"We have to make use of our small rink and our defensive game has to be strong. We have to plug up the middle because they're a fast team that can work quickly in transition," continued Morran. "If we can try and make them frustrated, we'll see what happens."

"This is what you play for, the playoffs," he added. 

Game one is set for Friday at 8:30 p.m. inside of the GACC. Game two will be on Saturday in Russell at 8:00 p.m. and if necessary, game three will be next Friday also in Russell at 8:30 p.m.

Ahead of game one which is 48 hours away, Kaine has received some recognition from the league. The Grandview native has been named to the third all-star team. He led Grandview with 14 points (5G) in the regular season.

Kaine also led the team in scoring last year and he was tied for the team lead in scoring in the previous season. In the past three campaigns, Morran has tallied 53 points with his hometown senior hockey team.

"There's a lot of good quick defenceman in this league these days," concluded Morran. "It's pretty flattering to be in the same class as some of these guys." 

Last month, Eric Prokopowich, Brett Rowe, Osten Sahulka, and Luke Davidson took part in the U21 Telus Junior Men's Provincial Championships at the Dauphin Curling Club and Credit Union Place.

Now, the foursome is getting another chance to play for a buffalo. Over the weekend, they took part in the West 1 qualifier for the Asham U18 Men's Provincial Championships that will be played from March 4-8 in Minnedosa.

Osten who is from Winnipegosis and the rest of the foursome went a perfect 2-0 and because of it, they're heading to Minnedosa.

In their first game against Team Gawryluik, the team which is skipped by Luke Davidson, they took a 4-1 lead through four ends and they went on to claim a 4-2 victory. In their second game, Team Davidson beat Team Meyn, 6-4. 

"It feels really good, I'm really excited that I get to play with this team at the event," said Sahulka. "We set up our shots really well and we made difficult shots in difficult situations."

"Going in, we knew we had a good chance of winning so we knew that if we just played our game, we would have a good chance," added Sahulka. 

Last year, Osten played on Team Beyak where the team went 1-4. 

This year's field in Minnedosa will once again welcome 12 teams that will be split into two pools. The playoff format is a page which means there will be a 1vs2 game with the winner advancing straight to the finals. The loser of the 1vs2 game will play the winner of the 3vs4 game in the semi-final with a berth in the finals on the line. A provincial champion will be crowned on March 8.

The winner will represent Manitoba at the U18 Canadian Curling Championships in Sudbury, Ontario, from April 20-25.

"I think we're feeling pretty good heading into that event. We don't know some of the teams on the list, but that doesn't mean we can't compete with them," continued Sahulka. "We're hoping for a couple wins and our main goal is competing for a playoff spot."

At the provincials last month in Dauphin, Team Davidson which included Sahulka was one of the youngest teams in the field. Although they didn't advance to the playoffs, they definitely showed that curling in the Parkland has a bright future.

It was the first time that Osten and anyone on the team played in a U21 provincial event in their hometown.

"It was absolutely amazing. You could just see the level of energy every time we hit the ice," concluded Sahulka. "It's an event that none of us will ever forget."

The Dauphin Kings continued their recent roll tonight. 

After a slow start, they rebounded very nicely in a big 5-1 win against Winkler.

The Flyers came in as the second-place team in the league. 

It was Dauphin’s third win in a row.

”After that slow start, we started doing the little things right and we filled up the middle lane very well,” said Doug Hedley. “Gavin Wendorf had a great game, he’s been one of our best players.”

Carter Sawchuk, Grady Hobbs, Brendan Arnold, Brayden Pawluk, and Noah Wagner scored in the win for Dauphin.

Levi Mitchell was once again tremendous for Dauphin as he made 36 saves in the game.

”I had the chance to play pretty loose because we really got things going offensively,” said Mitchell after the game. “It was a confidence booster for us and now it’s time to move forward.”

Dauphin will look to make it four in a row when they play Steinbach twice this weekend. Both games will be at Credit Union Place. 

The best women's curling teams in the province took over the Riverdale Community Centre last week for the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The tournament would send the winning foursome to the National Scotties Tournament of Hearts later this month in Moose Jaw.

The event kicked off on January 29 and it ran right through this past Sunday. The semi-final and final was broadcasted on Sportsnet.

"Things couldn't have gone better. It was a packed house all week, we're extremely happy," said Les Wedderburn, Chair of the event. "Everything went smoothly, it was phenomenal."

"Jennifer Jones had a comment that she would come back to Rivers for an event like this anytime," he added. "We had great volunteers and all of the feedback was positive."

The field for the event was a stacked one. It included the likes of Team Jones, Team Kerri Einarson, Team Tracy Fleury, and nine other teams who were all looking to pull off an upset. 

In a new format, the top two teams from each group advanced. Team Fleury and Team Kristy Watling advanced from the Black Group while Einarson and Team Jones advanced out of the Red Group.

curling action shotOn Sunday morning, Team Jones scored one in the 11th end to beat Team Fleury, 8-7, to advance to the final.

Jones would score two points in the first end of the final, however; it wasn't mean to be. Team Einarson which features Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard, and Briane Meilleur proved to be too strong as they won 8-6.

The win means Team Einarson will represent Team Manitoba at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts from February 15-23 at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw.

"It was almost surreal to have the best teams here," concluded Wedderburn. "Especially to have three of the top teams in the world, that's pretty incredible. It's almost unbelievable when you think about it."

Despite losing the final, Team Jones will have another chance as will Team Fleury. The two teams will play against each other on Friday, February 14. The winner will be Team Wild Card when the tournament gets underway on Saturday morning. The two teams are playing in this game based on their ranking within Canada. 

Later this month, a man who calls Brandon his home will head to Russia. Brayden Payette will play on Team Jacques Gauthier for the 2020 World Junior Curling Championships which take place from February 15-22, in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

At the nationals earlier this month in Langley, Payette and the rest of the foursome had a near-perfect week to earn their spot. Playing as Manitoba #2, they won 10 games and they capped things off by beating Newfoundland and Labrador in the final, 8-6.

Their only loss of the entire tournament was against Nova Scotia in their third game. 

"It honestly still hasn't sunk in. We all feel when we get closer to Russia, we'll realize that it's actually real," said Payette. "It's still hard to believe that we won nationals."

The team was Manitoba #2 because of what happened on the provincial stage. They dropped the provincial final against Lawson Yates and the rest of Team Brett Walter. However, Manitoba had two spots at the nationals this year which meant they would still get the opportunity to play. In the provincial final, they still played quite well, but they really did ramp it up on the national stage.

"We were lucky that we had that chance this year," said Payette. "We were joking all week, who needs a provincial title if you can still win the national title. It's still our joke to this day."

Of their 11 games at the nationals, Payette and the rest of the foursome scored at least six points in eight of them. They also got a sense of revenge against Yates and his team as they beat them, 9-4 in the round-robin.

The team from the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club in Winnipeg also features Zack Bilawka and Jordan Peters. 

"We stayed really focused all week and we learned a lot from our provincial final loss," continued Payette. "We just played really solid curling all week; it's actually kind of unreal how well we played."

In perhaps the comeback of the entire tournament, the team trailed Quebec 6-0 after three ends in their first game. Manitoba #2 ended up scoring 10 points the rest of the way to eliminate that deficit and win 10-9.

They followed that up with a win against New Brunswick before they dropped their one and only game against Nova Scotia. The rest of the way, they won eight straight games.

The team will now get all fitted in their new Canadian apparel before they board a plane with Krasnoyarsk being their destination. The team's first game is on February 15 against the United States. 

In all, they'll play nine round-robin games through February 20. 

"This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid," said Payette. "I've watched this event so much and it's always been a goal of mine to take part in it. It's a dream come true and I can't believe it."

Standing in Canada's way of becoming a World Champion is the U.S., Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, New Zealand, Germany, Russia, and Scotland.

Payette and the rest of this year's team will certainly have some big shoes to fill when the event begins. Tyler Tardi and his Canadian team won the past two world championships. 

Carberry's Braden Calvert also won the event back in 2015. 

On February 19, you can watch the team take on Russia when they battle them at 6:00 a.m. local time.

The Dauphin Kings have been on a roll over the past few days and they'll look to keep that going this evening. 

Winners of two straight, Dauphin returns to Credit Union Place to welcome the Winkler Flyers to town, who are second in the league.

Dauphin's offence has scored 10 goals in their last two games while Winkler has also scored the second most goals in the league at 192.

Dauphin's power play continues to be an issue as it has just three goals on its last 43 chances.

Game time tonight is set for 7:30

In the 2013-14 season, the Dauphin Kings were set to host the Western Canada Cup at Credit Union Place. That meant they were just one step away from advancing to the Royal Bank Cup.

To do so, a good performance at the WCC was required and they acquired a few solid pieces to give themselves their best chance. One of the pieces that they did pick up was Michael Stiliadis. A native of Woodbridge, Ontario, Stiliadis began that season with the Georgetown Raiders of the OJHL where he would play 12 games before he joined the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Stiliadis would play just three games with Vernon before he was acquired by the Dauphin Kings. He would quickly become a fan favourite and also one of the best goaltenders in the league.

He also provided Dauphin fans with something extra to cheer about on December 20, 2013. Playing against Waywayseecappo, Dauphin was up 4-2 late and the Wolverines pulled their goalie. Wayway shot the puck right at Stiliadis and he caught it and shot it down the ice and it went in as he scored his first-ever goalie goal.

"You don't see a goalie score a goalie very often, so I'll never forget that moment, it was pretty incredible," said Stiliadis. 

In 26 regular-season games, Stiliadis had a 2.48 G.A.A to go along with a solid .914 save percentage. Dauphin went on to claim the Sherwood Division crown that season by 15 points over the Virden Oil Capitals.

In the playoffs, Stiliadis continued to do his thing as he earned four straight shutouts in the first round of the playoffs as the team rolled past OCN. They would follow that up with a four-game sweep against the Oil Capitals.

In the final, Dauphin ran up against a Winnipeg Blues team that finished fourth in the Addison Division. However, the Blues came out and beat Dauphin in five games to claim the Turnbull Trophy.

"I knew coming to Dauphin was going to be a great chance to have a memorable season and prove Vernon wrong for trading me away," said Stiliadis. "For me, I thought it was a successful year, although we didn't win the league. That Winnipeg team was really good and they deserved it."

As mentioned above, the season, however, for Dauphin would continue as they hosted the WCC and a great performance was what happened. They finished first in the round-robin and they defeated Yorkton in the finals to claim a berth to the Royal Bank Cup.

"That was great, we were all fired up and we did what we needed to do," he continued.

Dauphin would continue to roll at the Royal Bank Cup. They once again finished first in the round-robin. However, they were defeated by Carleton Place in the semi-final. Despite not travelling back to Dauphin with a national title, Stiliadis did travel with some individual hardware that he earned.

Michael won the Roland Mercier Trophy which is awarded to the tournament's Most Valuable Player. He was also named the tournament's Top Goaltender. In his five games played, Stiliadis had a .930 save percentage and a 2.32 G.A.A. 

"I had confidence going into the tournament knowing I could help the team win games," added Stiliadis. "We were projected to be the odd team out of the playoff picture, but we rallied off three straight wins in the round-robin and one was against Vernon which was an extra great feeling."

"The whole experience of playing in the nationals was amazing, it's something I certainly won't ever forget."

After that one season with Dauphin, Stiliadis would go on to join the Victoria Grizzlies before he ended his junior career with the Toronto Blue Ice Jets in the 2015-16 season. As the door to his junior career closed, the door to his professional career would open.

Stiliadis would end up playing three professional seasons in Sweden before he came back to North America. He began this season in the Southern Professional Hockey League with the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs. Stiliadis is now playing in the Federal Prospects Hockey League with the Watertown Wolves, a team that acquired him from Elmira, who also plays in the FPHL.

The team has won six straight games and they're in second place in the Eastern Division. He's gone 4-2 this season and he sports a very solid .924 save percentage.

"It's been a pretty solid year for me individually and of course, our team is having success which is always the goal," concluded Stiliadis. 

Cole DeKoninck has been named a runner-up for the MJHL's Defenceman of the Month for January.

In 11 games last month, DeKoninck had three goals and 10 assists.

The Lorette native leads all defenceman in scoring this year with 51 points and he's 10th in the league's scoring race.

He had four assists this past Friday in a win against Virden and he added an assist in a 3-2 win on Saturday against Selkirk.