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Clippers look to finish strong on the road


After a busy stretch where they played six games in five days, the Dauphin Clippers hockey team had some much needed time off to prepare for their final two games before the Christmas break.
After finishing third at the Vic Inn High School Hockey Tournament in Brandon, Dec. 7 to 9, the Clippers returned to Westman High School Hockey League action with an ugly 7-6 shootout win over the Major Pratt Trojans, Dec. 11 in Dauphin.
Dauphin won four of five games in Brandon, taking top spot in their pool with a 5-0 win over the Westwood Warriors and a 6-2 win over Mountain Mustangs.
In the quarterfinals, the Clippers upended the Crocus Plains Plainsmen, 7-1, before falling 3-2 to the Sturgeon Heights Huskies in the semifinals.
Dauphin then clinched third place with a 4-1 win over Dryden, while Sturgeon Heights went on to win the tournament, beating the St. Paul’s Crusaders, 4-1 in the final.
Against Major Pratt, the Clippers fell behind early as the Trojans chased Dauphin starter Blake Zamrykut.
Dauphin battled back and carried a 5-4 lead going into the third period, but the Trojans scored two goals 29 seconds apart to go in front.
Riley Hammond’s third goal of the game with 1:38 left in the third period sent the game into overtime, where nothing was settled. In the shootout, the Clippers outscored Major Pratt, 3-2 to escape with the win. Keanu Woodhouse, Hammond and Wade Kopytko had the Dauphin goals in the shootout.
Alex Iwanchysko, Logan Storey and Craig Allard had the other Dauphin goals in regulation.
Bode Childs earned the win in relief of Zamrykut.
Clippers coach Trevor Robak said it was not one of Dauphin’s best games.
“It was one of those games where our mindset wasn’t good. Right from the start of the game, we didn’t want to skate the puck. We wanted to pass the puck. And when we passed the puck, our feet weren’t moving,” he said.
Some key players, Robak added, are battling the flu bug right now.
“But we fought through it and found ways. Major Pratt played us well,” he added.
Neither team could get much momentum going. Robak said it was not a pretty hockey game, especially by the Clippers.
“The mistakes we made, they were able to jump on and capitalize on, for sure. But we got our two points. A big two points. Division points,” he said, adding the Clippers just need to get back to practice and get refocused.
The tournament, Robak noted, was an emotional weekend which featured a lot of tough games.
“I think, mentally, after you’re done and you get away from it for a day, it can be a worse thing. If you keep rolling, you’ll probably have a better game. But when you take that one day off, I think, mentally, you just kind of collapse a little bit. And I think that’s what happened to us,” he said.
Robak was pleased with the team’s play throughout the tournament. He rolled all four lines and everybody was working hard all weekend.
A bad start against Sturgeon Heights proved costly in the semifinals. Coming off a 7-1 win over Crocus Plains in the quarterfinals in which they only allowed six shots, Robak feels the Clippers thought they could follow the same game plan against the Huskies.
“And Sturgeon Heights jumped on us quick and got a couple of quick ones. Then we settled in and played well,” Robak said.
“But overall in the tournament, we competed well and it was good to see.”
It was good for the Clippers to see some competition from outside the league.
“To see how you have to compete, how you have to be better. That Sturgeon Heights team, that’s the team we’re trying to compare ourselves to right now. They’re second in the Platinum Division in the Winnipeg High School League, which is the top division. We can skate with them. We just have to play the game better, play smarter,” Robak said.
“Now we know what we need to do and we’re ready to focus and work on it, we can do that. You can preach to the kid all you want, until he actually sees it with his own two eyes, sometimes, it doesn’t sink in.”
The win was Dauphin’s ninth in a row and improves their record to 9-2-0-0. They sit in first place in the North Division, three points ahead of the Swan Valley Tigers and four up on Major Pratt.
The Clippers are back on the ice, Wednesday in Brandon when they face the 3-5-1-0 Crocus Plains Plainsmen at 8 p.m.
On Friday, the Clippers are in Neepawa for the annual Christmas Classic against the 5-4-1-0 Tigers, with game time at 1:15 p.m.

Doug Zywina