Yellowhead Chiefs advance to league final


By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner/Neepawa Press

For the first time in 21 years, the Yellowhead Chiefs will be vying for the Manitoba AAA Hockey League championship. The game that clinched Yellowhead’s spot in the finals was 7-4 win over the Brandon Junior Wheat Kings on Saturday, Mar. 11.

The game didn’t start well for the Chiefs, as they surrendered three goals in the first ten minutes of the opening period. Noah Geekie answered back with an even strength goal before the end of the first, to make it 3-1.

In the second, Yellowhead replied with a Parker Johnson tally just over four minutes into the period. Brandon reclaimed the two goal cushion a few minutes later. After that, Yellowhead kicked it up a notch, collecting the final five goals, including two to close out the second. Jacob Tibbatts scored once and then that was immediately followed up by Geekie’s second of the night. That tied things up at 4-4 heading into the third period. 

For the final 20 minutes of action, it was Yellowhead who controlled the pace. That created several opportunities, that they’d take full advantage of. Mackenzie Belinski potted a pair of goals, while Benoit Mowbray added the other, to make the final score 7-4. Belinski (two goals-one assist), Geekie (2G-1A) and Cole Muir (3A) all had three points apiece, while Reese Jones collected the win between the pipes with a 29 save night.

The Yellowhead Chiefs will now face the top team of the regular season, the Winnipeg Wild (35-6-0. 73 pts). The Wild made it into the final by sweeping Parkland in the first round and then outlasting the Eastman Selects three games to two.

The final best-of seven series started on Thursday, Mar. 16 in Winnipeg at the MTS Iceplex. Details on the first game will appear in the Friday, Mar. 24 edition of the Neepawa Banner.

OT loss end Female Chiefs season

The Yellowhead Chiefs dreams of repeating as the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League champions have been dashed, as the team fell in overtime to the Westman Wildcats by the score of 2-1. The game, held at the Shoal Lake Communiplex on Thursday, Mar. 9, was the fourth in the best-of-five series. The Wildcats claimed the first two matches, while Yellowhead bounced back in game three. 

Back at home for game four, the Chiefs put sustained pressure on the visiting Wildcats early, outshooting them 15-4 in the first. Team captain Tatum Amy scored the only goal of the opening frame, giving Yellowhead a 1-0 lead.

The Wildcats bounced back in the second period, increasing the pressure on the Chiefs. Westman would eventually capitalize with a power-play goal from Andrea Sanderson to tie the game. The Wildcats controlled the majority of the play and outshot the Chiefs 11-7 in the second.  

For the third, Westman ramped up their effort even more, creating numerous chances. Chiefs goaltender Miranda Cook, however, was able to turn aside everything the Wildcats threw at her. 

The Wildcats outshot Yellowhead 17-8 in the final 20 minutes of regulation.

In overtime, the Chiefs had an early power-play opportunity but couldn’t take advantage. Then, late in the first overtime session, Yellowhead took a penalty. Early in the power-play, Westman’s 

Josee Casavant scored to ensure the game and series victories and send the Wildcats to the league final.

The Westman Wildcats will now face off against the Pembina Valley Hawks in the title game.