MHSAA 2023 Dairy Farmers of Manitoba  “AAAA” Boys Hockey Championship

March 14, 2023 by  
Filed under Provincial and Territorial News

Dairy Farmers of Manitoba  “AAAA” Boys Hockey Championship

Semi-final 1Collège Garden City Collegiate vs Westwood Collegiate, 2-1
Semi-final 2St Paul’s High School (Winnipeg) vs Steinbach Regional Secondary School, 3-4
FinalSteinbach Regional Secondary School 2-1 Collège Garden City Collegiate
Steinbach Regional Secondary School

2024 Dairy Farmers of Manitoba  “AAAA” Boys Hockey Championship Participants

Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School, Dauphin
Portage College Institute, Portage La Prairie
Westwood Collegiate, Winnipeg
Collège Garden City Collegiate, Winnipeg
Steinbach Regional Secondary School, Steinbach
St Paul’s High School, Winnipeg

Sabres are AAAA hockey champions

Written by Clayton Dreger

The Provincial AAAA High School Hockey Championship banner belongs to the Steinbach Regional Secondary School.

Drew Heide’s power play goal with .9 seconds left in the first period stood up as the winner as the Sabres defeated the Winnipeg High School Hockey League’s Platinum Promotions Division champion Garden City Fighting Gophers 2-1 Monday night in front of over a hundred boisterous supporters of the team at Hockey for All Centre in Winnipeg. 

“Amazing and electric,” said the youngest Sabre after the awards presentation. “It was just unbelievable. Can’t believe this many people came out. It was great to see.” 

The officials did not signal a goal when Heide beat Gophers netminder Evan Banera.

The two referees and two linesmen huddled behind the Garden City net and discussed the situation for a minute before giving Heide credit for the go-ahead goal. 

“I saw the puck go around behind the net and I’m just thinking, gotta swing at it,” said Heide. “Really glad I didn’t take an extra second there. It was a really crazy moment.”

Sabres captain Seth Bergman opened the scoring 8:25 into the first period.

Garden City defenseman Nixon Carriere potted a power play goal 90 seconds later.

Steinbach Regional goaltender Hunter Fehr shut the door the rest of the way and finished the night with 17 saves.

“The atmosphere in the place with all the fans, it’s something I’ve never played in front of before. Just an amazing feeling all around,” said Fehr.

The Fighting Gophers had one last chance for the equalizer with Banera on the bench for an extra attacker and the face-off in the Sabres zone with eight seconds left. 

“I just told myself to keep calm,” Fehr said. “The jobs not finished yet. The longest eight seconds of my life.”

The grade 11 netminder was also named the tournament MVP.

“Just a great feeling. I worked really hard for this.”


Seth Bergman, Mark Plett and Lucas Jolicoeur were selected Tournament All-Stars. 

The Sabres, who lost out to Lord Selkirk in the WHSHL quarterfinals and then beat the Royals in a wildcard game to get into the field, are the first team from outside the city of Winnipeg to win the Provincial AAAA High School Hockey Championship since Winkler’s Garden Valley Zodiacs in 2006.

“It’s tough to put into words to be honest with you,” remarked SRSS head coach John Laninga. “When I went to the AAAA volleyball championship and the Sabres took that, we went to practice the next day and I said, ‘boys that could be a reality for us.’ The league playoffs didn’t quite go the way we wanted them to, and boy was it tough to get back to the practice ice and work hard but that’s been our MO all year. We’ve got good leadership on this team. We’ve got guys that just push the pace at practice and that’s where it’s got to start. This group of guys committed themselves to greatness and I think that’s what we saw today.”  

Sabres advance to AAAA hockey final

Written by Clayton Dreger

Steinbach Regional will play for a second Provincial AAAA championship banner this school year.

Three months after the SRSS varsity boys volleyball team captured the championship banner in a five-set thriller over the St. Paul’s Crusaders, the Sabres will face the Garden City Fighting Gophers in the Provincial AAAA High School Hockey Championship final Monday (6:30 p.m.) at Hockey for All Centre in Winnipeg.

Dominic Rooney, Theoren Koop and Colton Wiebe each had a goal and an assist as the SRSS held on for a 4-3 victory over St. Paul’s Sunday afternoon.

“It feels surreal to make it the Provincial Championship final,” texted SRSS head coach John Laninga. “Solid goaltending from William (MacDonald) and Hunter (Fehr) led the way along with relentless forecheck and plenty of back pressure.”

Koop scored with 20 seconds remaining in the opening period and Drew Heide’s goal with eight seconds left extended the Sabres lead to 3-0.

Troy Boughton and Porter Holland scored third period goals for the Crusaders and cut Steinbach Regional’s lead to 4-3.

William MacDonald who made 30 saves in net for the SRSS, shut the door on St. Paul’s over the final 14 minutes.

Laninga noted the extra day off was beneficial as the semifinals were delayed for 24 hours because of the snowfall warnings issued Saturday for all of southern Manitoba.

“We had a heavy practice on Thursday to prepare for an intense weekend. I think it helped us get off to our ideal start against St. Paul’s today and we had lots left to give in our own zone as we won battles and protected the lead late in the third.”

“The maturity of our team was evident in the celebration after today’s win against St. Paul’s with the realization that the job is not yet complete,” added coach Laninga. “Our program has never defeated a St. Paul’s Platinum Promotions teams before, but we know that we are going into the final as the underdogs against Garden City. We will game plan accordingly and try to build off the round robin loss on Friday night – a game that we felt like we played some our best hockey of the season.”

The Winnipeg High School Hockey League Platinum Promotion Division champion Fighting Gophers, who edged the Westwood Warriors 2-1 in the other semifinal Sunday, defeated the Sabres 2-1 in the round robin finale for both teams.

Top-ranked Fighting Gophers pursue provincial glory

Mike SawatzkyBy: Mike Sawatzky

It’s been a dream season — so far — for the Garden City Fighting Gophers.

The Gophers went 20-0-1 during the 2022-23 Winnipeg High School Hockey League season and 44-1-2 overall en route to a Platinum Promotions Division title. The only blemishes on their record? An overtime loss in the regular season with a regulation defeat and OT loss in the playoffs.

Despite all that, head coach Dustin Hughes has a healthy appreciation for the other five teams at the AAAA provincial boys hockey championship, which opens Friday at the hockey for all centre.

“All the teams are here for a reason,” said Hughes on Tuesday. “We had a very challenging final series against a really good St. Paul’s team. Westwood is as good as it gets in terms of their top-end talent and Steinbach has been progressing really well all year and I do have a lot of respect for how they play as well. And I’m sure that the rural teams will have a say by the end of it as well.”

Garden City Fighting Gophers (ranked No. 1)

The Gophers are blessed with high-end offensive talent. Centres Colson Smith and Lucas Desousa were 1-2 in league scoring, each averaging more than two points per game.

Forward Owen Lourenco, who had 30 points in 19 games before injuring his left shoulder, returned for Games 2 and 3 of the city final only to sustain a season-ending injury to his right shoulder of the series-clinching win. He will be missed.

Garden City can also expect offensive production from defenceman Nixon Carriere, who was fourth in league scoring with 39 points in 24 games.

“We were close in 2018 and 2019 but I would say this is definitely the best overall team,” said Hughes, who took over the program in 2018 and guided his squad to a third-place finish at the 2019 provincials. “At the end of the day, they’re the team (that) got it done and came together at the right time and has been battling hard and bringing a positive attitude all year. And we’re definitely hoping that we can sustain that for one more week.”

St. Paul’s Crusaders (No. 2)

The defending provincial champs are not favoured after going 24-8 in the regular season and 26-11-1 overall, losing a three-game city final.

“I think being an underdog is not a bad thing at all,” said Crusaders coach Rob Puchniak, the long-time bench boss of the school’s No. 2 team before taking over the No. 1 team from Andrew Harder in 2022-23. “Garden City is very strong team and they’re deserving as the favourites for sure.

“I think that we’ve got to approach this with some humility and realize that we’ve got to be a very hard-working team to compete against the likes of Garden City and the other talented teams that are here.”

The WHSHL’s best defensive team is anchored by blue-liner Jack McFeetors. Forwards Dario Macchia and Jonah Crossland both averaged a point per game.

Westwood Warriors (No. 3)

Westwood is winless against Garden City in 2022-23 but managed two regular-season wins over St. Paul’s en route to a 19-4-1 record. However, the Warriors were swept in the post-season by the Crusaders and will be looking for a rebound performance.

Leading scorer Tristen Arnason and Madden Parnell are key offensive performers.

“We have a shorter roster compared to other teams,” said Warriors shutdown defenceman Jarrett Ross. “We’ve got our three lines and our three pairs of D compared to some teams with four lines. But we did it last year like that, too, and so we’re used to playing short.”

Steinbach Sabres (No. 4)

The Sabres have established themselves as contenders with a balanced offence that boasts high-scoring forwards in Mark Plett, Theoren Koop and Lucas Jolicoeur.

Steinbach went 14-6-4 during the regular season. But three of those defeats were 4-1, 4-2 and 4-2 decisions to Garden City, while two losses to St. Paul’s were tight games.

The Sabres have shown they can hang around with the league’s heavyweights and now they’re aiming to show they can beat them, too.

“That’s the plan and that’s the hope,” said Sabres coach John Laninga. “We’ve got that wild-card label, but we feel like we’re right there in the mix. And we’re a confident group heading into this weekend and looking forward to playing some some good, tough hockey games.”

Dauphin Clippers (No. 5)

Sparked by forwards Logan Chapman and William Miner and goaltender Owen Chubka, the Clippers went 26-5-1 during the Westman High School Hockey League regular season.

They have a tough schedule, facing Garden City and Steinbach in games only four hours apart Friday.

Portage Trojans (No. 6)

The Zone 4 champions, led by MVP and captain Alex Van Deynze, went 20-4 during the regular season but will be missing one of their big guns this weekend.

High-scoring forward JJ Oke is attending a family function and will not participate.

“He was our leading scorer throughout the regular season this year so he was obviously a big part of it,” said coach Dave Van Deynze. “But we feel like we’ve got some depth and we’ll move some things around and we’ll be ready to go.”

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