Blues win MJHL title


The Winnipeg Blues captured the Manitoba Junior Hockey League championship title on Tuesday night with a 5-1 win over the Dauphin Kings in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series.

Before more than 1,100 fans at Winnipeg’s MTS Iceplex, the Blues jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes and never looked back, winning the game and series 4-1. The last time the Blues captured the Turnbull Cup was back in 2006.

Kamerin Nault scored twice, while Warren Callis, Clay Tait and Mitch Hansen netted the other tallies for the Blues. Bryon Spriggs made 15 saves to pick up the win between the pipes for the Blues. He wound up also being named the playoff MVP after going 14-3 with a 1.67 goals against average and .943 save percentage in the postseason. Meanwhile, Dauphin netminders Michael Stiliadis and Jordan Piccolino combined to make 18 saves for the Kings in the loss.

"It was special to win at home," said Blues general manager and head coach Don MacGillivrary in a release. "It was nice for our players to win a championship in front of their friends and family. It will be something they'll remember for a very long time. Winning a championship is always a great feeling."

The Blues, who finished in fourth place in the Addison Division in the regular season, began the playoffs with a survivor series win over Winkler. The Blues then went on to defeat the regular season pennant winners Selkirk Steelers and last year's MJHL champion Steinbach Pistons to advance to the final.

Meanwhile, it was deja vu for the Kings, as the club were league runner-ups last year when they lost to the Pistons in the championship final. The Kings roster includes former Neepawa Native Brayden Cuthbert.

The Blues and the Kings will both advance to the Western Canada Cup, which begins later this month in Dauphin.


Other MJHL notes . . .

- This year's Western Canada Cup host committee announced recently that Dauphin native Barry Trotzwill act as the honourary co-chair of the event. 

Trotz is the longest tenured coach in the NHL and, until recently, the only coach in Nashville Predators franchise history. He began his coaching career in 1984 as an assistant with the University of Manitoba and served two seasons (1985-87) as the head coach and general manager of the Dauphin Kings. 

“That is what junior hockey in western Canada is all about," said Trotz in a release. "It is about dreams and it is about serving as the lifeblood of our communities. This tournament is a fantastic opportunity for all participants to showcase their talents at the highest level of junior hockey.  It is also an opportunity for our community and all those that help make junior hockey happen to shine.”

The Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup runs April 25 – May 4 at Credit Union Place in Dauphin.

- Before winning the MJHL title and playoff MVP award, Byron Spriggs also picked up the MJHL player of the week award, ending April 13.

Spriggs, 20, has been outstanding in the post-season for the Blues, posting a 2-1 record last week, with an impressive save percentage of .933 and a 2.00 goals against average.

The runners up were 20-year-old defenseman Tanner Butler of the Dauphin Kings and 20-year-old forward Warren Callis of the Winnipeg Blues.


With files from MJHL releases