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Blizzard ready to rock the GLMC

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The first round of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) for the OCN Blizzard starts tonight at the Gordon Lathlin Memorial Centre (GLMC) as OCN takes on the Winkler Flyers in a best of seven-game series.
After tonight there’s another game tomorrow night here at home, then next Tuesday and Wednesday night the teams play two games down in Winkler. If the series isn’t decided by then it’s back to OCN next Friday for game five and then Sunday it’s back to Winkler for game six. Should the series go the distance, game seven will be back at the GLMC on March 20.
The regular season stats show only a two-point difference between OCN and Winkler, out of 60 games OCN won 32 games with 20 losses, five overtime losses and three shootout losses with 72 points in total. Winkler had 35 wins and 25 losses for 70 points.
In the MJHL awards, the goaltenders from both OCN (Emilien Boily) and Winkler (Troy Martyniuk) were both nominated for best goalies of the season, an award that went to the Winkler goaltender.
“Boily’s had a great season. I think Martyniuk on the other hand, he’s played more games than (Boily) did, he’s pretty relied on to be their guy; very good goaltender,” said Doug Hedley, Head Coach and General Manager of the OCN Blizzard, adding, “We’re going to have to put some traffic up front.”
Pushing traffic and putting shots on net and getting past Winkler’s defence is the focus for OCN and making it tough for Winkler to play defence is part of OCN’s strategy.
“Nobody really likes to come up here to play so we got to make it a tough place to play. We got to start right from the hop, start the game on time and get a good impression on their defense. We think we can do some things against their d-men and part of that is getting pucks in and making sure we win races. It makes it really tough for the d-men,” Hedley explained.
One of the positive aspects of OCN is the consistency in all four lines that Hedley cites will help them in the playoffs.
“We have depth; we think that we have some good depth. Any of our lines can play any of their lines, we’ll try and get our match-ups so we win at home for the first two games and then be confident on the road,” he said, adding, “We might not have the top two league scorers like everybody else has but we have a lot of lines that can contribute in different ways. We think of ourselves as a team when we work hard when we put the effort in; we’re really tough to play against.”
Some players to watch out for from Winkler according to Hedley is the aforementioned Martyniuk, center Coltyn Bate and right winger Matt Christian.
“Bates and Christian are kind of at the top there; their top line is very good there. We can definitely control their speed through the neutral zone,” Hedley said.
Head-to-head OCN won most of their games against Winkler, besting them in four out of six games, but the regular season record isn’t exactly the same as playoffs, said Hedley.
“It’s hard to say in the playoffs, it’s a totally different season. The fact that we bested them gives our guys confidence; we played them six times, we won four, lost two, one in a shootout and one in overtime. We got 10 out of 12 points against them but at the same time like I said the playoffs are totally different.”

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Trevor Wright
REPORTER
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