Tiger Hills Hockey League season about to begin



By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner

The puck is about to drop on another season in the Tiger Hills Hockey League. Thirteen teams will hit the ice for the 2014/15 season, including the Neepawa Farmers and Gladstone Lakers, who will face off against one another on Friday, Oct. 24 at the Yellowhead Centre. 

League president Wayne Deschouwer said the T.H.H.L. executive is very pleased to see another year is about to start. He added that the level of competition across the league continues to improve.

“What was great about last year was that on any given night, any team could beat any other,” said Deschouwer. “Although there were teams like Souris [Elks] and Deloraine [Royals] that won most of their games, it was still competitive.”

Entering the new season, the Neepawa Farmers are hoping to improve upon last year’s 9-14-1 record and a sixth place finish in the Eastern Division.  General Manager Rodney White said the team has made very few changes to its roster for this season.

“We had 27 skaters and three goalies come out to training camp. It was pretty much the same as last year. We have a couple of new guys in and a couple veterans out. Nothing major, but all of our younger players continue to improve. They’ve grown a bit stronger, a bit bigger and have more experience in the league,” said White. 

White noted that the talent level of last years club was better than their record suggested, as some of the games were decided by a few unlucky bounces. He suggested that with another year of experience under their belt, more of those games will lean in the Farmers’ favour.

“I think this year will start out a lot like how last year finished for us. With a lot of close games,” said White. “Including playoffs, we had lost about 12 games [last season] by two goals or less. I would think that this year, we could turn half those games to our favour. If so, it’ll be a completely different season.” 

The Gladstone Lakers meanwhile finished last season with a 12-12 record, good enough for fourth place in the Eastern Division. The Lakers however did advance to the league final, where they were defeated by the Deloraine Royals in the best of five series, three games to one.

Lakers spokesperson Dale Evenson said they’re hoping to build on last year’s strong finish.

“We have 15 to 17 returning players, so that’s a good start,” said Evenson. “Overall, we’re looking forward to our first game in Neepawa and the return of hockey.”