With files from Phil Heilman / Community Correspondent
WILKIE ‑ The top two teams in the Sask. West Hockey League went head-to-head for the SWHL title.
For the first time in a number of years, the Wilkie Outlaws will not be hoisting a banner to the rafters. The honour belongs to the Macklin Mohawks. This is the first SWHL championship for the Mohawks since the 2011/12 season.
Macklin Mohawks captured the championship March 26 in Wilkie, defeating the Outlaws three games to one in a best-of-five series.
Game one showcased just how much each team wanted to win the championship with an overtime win by Macklin. Game two repeated the overtime excitement, only this time Wilkie took the win. It was the Mohawk’s driven desire to win the league title that took the overall series win, earning a 5-3 victory in game three and finishing up with a 4-2 decision at Wilkie’s SaskCan arena March 26.
Game four was full of energy and excitement with the first period ending in a tie, with goals by Rozell for the Outlaws and Hillis for the Hawks. Ryan Donald scored the only goal in the second putting Wilkie in the lead 2-1. The Hawks scored three goals in the third period, including an empty netter. The third period Macklin tied the game up yet again with a goal by Pickett. However, Macklin poured it on scoring the remaining two goals to capture the 4-2 win, scored by Hillis and Biensch.
SWHL president, Joe Cey, says, “Macklin gets full marks for the series win. It was a great, hard-fought series ending Wilkie’s five-year streak as league champs.”
Nathan Hargrave, of the Mohawks, was outstanding in net for the entire series, earning him the playoff MVP award.
Coach Derek Keller of the Outlaws says, "Well we didn’t achieve our ultimate goal for the year, however, we feel as though the season was a success. We had loads of adversity to deal with this year, so to accomplish what we did was something we can be proud of as a team. Ultimately, we ran into a very strong and hungry Mohawk team that got the better of us. We battled right to the end though and already looking forward to competing again next year."
Cey also says the SWHL is looking healthy. Their spring meeting will be held April 7 and he will stay on as league president.
“We have a solid eight organizations in our league presently and definitely want to keep at least that many. As we come out of COVID-19 challenges, local sports (have) become so important for social and entertainment needs. Life is good,” adds Cey.
Cey said that the rivalry between Wilkie and Macklin was strong between the players and fans but he notes that the series was respectful and not nasty, as has been seen in other leagues, remarking that “That’s the way it should be.”