Gladstone wins THHL title



Lakers top Shamrocks in four games

By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

The Gladstone Lakers completed a dominant playoff run on Saturday, Mar. 24, beating the Killarney Shamrocks 4-3. With that win, the Lakers clinched the Tiger Hills Hockey League (THHL) championship, with a 3-games-to-1 series victory. 

For many people outside of Gladstone, that result may seem to be a shocking upset, as Killarney had gone 17-1-0 in the regular season, and had not lost consecutive games in over three years. Gladstone, however, found their groove at just the right time, tabulating nine wins to just two losses in the playoff run.

Gladstone secured the title with a pair of wins over the weekend, first topping Killarney 4-3 on Friday, Mar. 23 at the Shamrock Centre.  Nick Stire, Sean Kubas and Jesse Paradis each picked up a goal and assist for the Lakers, while Jesse Toth also added one.

Aubrey Chapman and Jesse Bernard scored for the Shamrocks in the second period while Isaac Friesen added one in the final minute of the game.

The next night, Gladstone finished off Killarney with an identical 4-3 score, this time in MacGregor. Nick Stire opened the scoring at 11:33 of the first. Less than 90 seconds later, the Lakers added to their lead when Trey Evenson put one past goaltender Brian Archibald. Jesse Bernard cut into the deficit before the end of the period, making it 2-1 for Gladstone after 20 minutes. 

In the second, Eric Beaudin and Sean Kubas added two more goals for Gladstone going into the final period. Killarney pressed hard in the last 20 minutes of action, scoring twice, including one with just 31 seconds left in regulation. The Lakers held on though, to take the game and series. 

Jordon Geddes of Gladstone was named Blaine Jarvis memorial playoff MVP, with 17 points (7 goals - 10 assists) over 11 games. Another worthy candidate for the prize was goaltender Matt Kohlman, who came up huge with some clutch saves throughout the postseason. After the final game, Kohlman commended his teammates for showing up in front of him every game and playing solid defensively. 

Gladstone team captain Lyndon Soper noted that while Killarney was a very tough opponent, they were not going to play this series intimidated by them.

“In the first game [a 6-3 Killarney win], we came out slow, maybe the confidence wasn’t there just yet. But, when we picked it up at the end of that game, we just rolled with it and carried that into game two. After winning that game in Gladstone, we were buying into it. We had some big penalty kills in game two and we worked our system well. It was just a great team effort and carried through to [games three and four],” stated Soper. “We were underdogs coming into this series. Not many people, outside of Gladstone gave us a shot. But we were able to do it. It’s huge for [our team], but even beyond that, it’s big for our town and for the people who came out an supported us throughout the whole year and into the playoffs."

The Gladstone Lakers will now represent the Tiger Hills Hockey League in the 2018 Senior A Provinical Championship. That event features the champions of the Tiger Hills, North Central and South Eastern and Carillon Senior Hockey Leagues. It begins on Thursday, Mar. 29 in Rivers, when Gladstone plays the Grandview Comets of the NCHL.