Midget-AAA Western Regional Championship
The Winnipeg Wild head into the Midget-AAA Western Regionals possessing the strongest regular season record as the tournament kicks off in Prince Albert on Thursday.
With a record of 37-5-2, the 2014 Manitoba Midget-AAA Hockey League champion Wild enter regionals with four more regular season wins than the SMAAAHL champion Notre Dame Argos and nine more than the host Prince Albert Mintos.
Losing just a pair of playoff games en route to the league title, Wild coach Paul Krueger is confident his team will ride the momentum into regionals.
“We’re looking to go there, play our best and end up winning,” Krueger said. “I thought we battled hard throughout the playoffs and we had a real cohesiveness. We pulled through as a team and I think that made us successful throughout our playoff run.”
Hitting the road for the 854-km trek from Winnipeg to Prince Albert on Wednesday, the Wild prep for the tournament’s opening matchup on Thursday against the Argos at the Art Hauser Centre.
Despite little familiarity with the tournament’s field of teams, the Wild have done all they can to prepare.
“You get used to that kind of thing,” Krueger said of playing in tournaments against strange clubs. “You prepare the best you can by getting information on the other teams and seeing what their tendencies are.”
When asked what he knows about the Argos, Mintos and the Thunder Bay Kings of the Northern Lake Hockey League, Krueger pointed out that although they don’t know much, the other three teams are in the same position.
“We don’t know a whole lot about them and they probably don’t know a whole lot about us,” Krueger explained. “The Saskatchewan teams are always very well skilled and well coached. They are going to be difficult games no doubt.”
On the Mintos, Argos and Kings radars will be Wild forward Zach Court, who after finishing the regular season fourth in league scoring with 63 points, lead the offensive charge in the post-season.
As the Wild trumped the Eastman Selects three games to one in the league final, Court capped off his second MAAAMHL campaign leading the playoffs with five goals and 14 assists.
The Wild will face off against the Argos on Thursday to kick off the tournament before taking on the Mintos on Friday and the Kings on Saturday.