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Playoff time in IJHL

Island Junior Hockey League. Submitted
Island Junior Hockey League. Submitted

Red Wings host Maniacs on Tuesday

ABRAM-VILLAGE – On paper, the Arsenault’s Fish Mart Western Red Wings appear to be the heavy favourites in their opening-round playoff series against the Eastern Maniacs.

However, Red Wings head coach Nathan DesRoches is warning not to take anything for granted, despite a 29-point difference between the teams in the regular season.
“They are really a hard team to coach against, they are unpredictable,” said DesRoches. “As Kensington experienced last year (in a seven-game semifinal series), whenever they do get a full lineup they are a very good team.
“They are a very good team up front, and they match up as well against us as anybody in the league. It should be a tighter series than I think a lot of people are anticipating.”
Game 1 is at the Evangeline Recreation Centre on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
“It will fun hockey to watch, it will be rough and it will be good old P.E.I. hockey,” predicted Maniacs head coach Devan Gunn.
The Red Wings finished first atop the Island Junior Hockey League regular-season standings with 52 points on the strength of a 25-9-2 (won-lost-overtime losses) record.
“We had the most successful season in franchise history,” said a proud DesRoches. “Finishing first was a goal of ours, and being able to finish first was very important to us.
“Home-ice advantage is a huge thing as we have experienced a few Game 7s in the past few years. It would be nice if that was to happen again this year it will be in our barn. I’m very, very happy with how things ended up for us this year.”
The Maniacs were fourth in the four-team loop at 10-23-3.
“It was a tough year,” admitted Gunn. “We had a lot of moving pieces. . . Coming on the end we felt we were starting to make some progress after a tough start.”
Gunn stressed that “a whole new season” is starting for the Maniacs on Tuesday.
“Things can happen pretty quickly,” offered Gunn. “You just never know what can happen in the playoffs if you put your mind to it.”
DesRoches and Gunn are both expecting a “high-scoring series” against the Souris-based Maniacs.
“Both teams are offensively minded,” said DesRoches. “I truly believe that the team that has the best defence is going to win this series without a doubt.”
One of the key offensive producers for the Red Wings is forward Jason Gallant, who clinched the league scoring title on Sunday night. Gallant had 37 goals, 32 assists and 69 points in 36 regular-season contests.
“He’s an unbelievable person, and first and foremost is what a great person he is,” said DesRoches in describing Gallant. “He’s been an excellent teammate, but since I’ve been coaching he’s always been overlooked. . . It’s so nice this year that he’s played up and down our lineup, and he’s made everybody better. He’s finally getting noticed for what a great hockey player he is, and he’s about as smart of a hockey player as I’ve come across. He’s very, very intuitive and very smart.”

Schedule for series between Red Wings and Maniacs:
Game 1
Tuesday, March 13
7:30 p.m. –
Maniacs at Red Wings (Abram-Village).
Game 2
Friday, March 16
7 p.m. –
Red Wings at Maniacs (Souris).
Game 3
Sunday, March 18
7 p.m. –
Maniacs at Red Wings.
Game 4
Wednesday, March 21
8 p.m. –
Red Wings at Maniacs.
Game 5, if necessary
Sunday, March 25
7 p.m. –
Maniacs at Red Wings.
Game 6, if necessary
To be announced.
Game 7, if necessary
To be announced.

Head to head
Head-to-head meetings between Red Wings and Maniacs:
Nov. 5 – Red Wings 6 at Maniacs 5 (OT).
Nov. 26 – Maniacs 4 at Red Wings 5
Dec. 16 – Maniacs 4 at Red Wings 9.
Jan. 9 – Maniacs 2 at Red Wings 6.
Jan. 28 – Red Wings 6 at Maniacs 3.
March 4 – Maniacs 1 at Red Wings 3.
March 10 – Red Wings 10 at Maniacs 6.
March 11 – Red Wings 5 at Maniacs 6.

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