ESTEVAN - Doug Hedley has had a lot of reasons to be happy to be in Estevan for the Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons.
For starters, he is the head coach and general manager of the Dauphin Kings, who finished first in Group B at the tournament, which means they advanced directly to the semifinal round Saturday.
And it’s a homecoming of sorts. Hedley was the head coach of the Estevan Bruins from 1992-93 to 1995-96.
He noted he has been able to drive around the city and see the two houses his family resided in while they lived in Estevan’s Westview area.
“They’re both upgraded. They both have double-car garages. I drove by the school my girls went to at Westview,” he said.
He still travels to Kenosee Lake each year to golf with friends from Estevan. But he believes the last time he was in Estevan was in 2005.
Hedley marvelled at the host Estevan Bruins’ venue of Affinity Place, comparing it to the Kings’ arena, but Hedley said Estevan’s events centre has sky boxes that Dauphin doesn’t have.
“There are a lot of new buildings. I think oil was pretty good after I left, and I think this facility says it all,” said Hedley.
Hedley said the Kings have been able to carry over momentum from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League championship series, which Dauphin won in seven games against the Steinbach Pistons.
“We have a very good hockey club. It was a great series, and the work ethic was there, the compete was there, and we just carried it over to this tournament,” said Hedley.
It helps that goaltender Carson Cherepak has been stellar. He was named the MVP of the Centennial Cup’s round robin on Thursday with a .968 save percentage in four games.
The fans have been terrific, too, and were able to be out in full force for the first couple of games. He hopes they’ll have lots of fans for the semifinal.
The day off will be vital, he said.
“When you come into a tournament, all you want to do is make it to the next round,” said Hedley. “But to get first in the pool and get that bye into the semifinals was fantastic for us.”
This is Hedley’s third time coaching Dauphin. He also led the team from 1989-90 to 1991-92, and from 2003-04 to 2006-07. He rejoined Dauphin in 2018-19.
“My girls live around Brandon, and we had a cottage at Clear Lake, which is in Riding Mountain National Park. I had property in Dauphin, so every time I left, I ended up keeping the property and came back to it if the job didn’t work out somewhere else.”
He also coached the Lebret Eagles (1996-97 to 1998-99), the Nipawin Hawks (2000-01 to 2002-03) in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, the OCN Blizzard (2006-07 to 2008-09, and 2016-17 and 2017-18) in the MJHL, the Quesnel Millionaires (2010-11) in the B.C. Hockey League, and the Parkland Rangers in the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League from from 2011-12 to 2015-16.