Canadiens head to finals in first time in over a decade

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The St. Paul Jr. B Canadiens have punched their ticket to the final round of NEAJBHL playoffs for the first times in about 16 years, with two strong wins against the Frog Lake T-Birds over the weekend.

Friday night’s game started off close, but the Canadiens would pull away, netting five goals to the T-Birds two. Three of the Canadiens’ goals came courtesy of #11 Roddy MacDougall, who went on to have another strong night in Frog Lake on Sunday, netting two of the six goals scored by the Canadiens.

“He was a thorn in their side,” said Young, when speaking of MacDougall’s success against the T-Birds.

The game in Frog Lake on Sunday would finish with a score of 6-3 for the away team.

The Canadiens will meet up against the league’s number one team, the Wainwright Bisons, after the Bisons bested Killam on Monday night on game six. Young estimated it’s been about 16 years since the Canadiens have made it to the final round of the playoffs in the league.

“It’s been a long time.”

The success of this year’s team is “a testament” to how hard the players have been working throughout the season. Young notes that not getting passed the second round would have been a disappointment.

When speaking of the series against Frog Lake, Young made sure to point out that “first and foremost, we were playing a good hockey team.” Although the Canadiens took the first two games, Frog Lake battled back, and took two wins in their home rink, to tie the series up.

“It’s a tough hill to climb to think you’re going to sweep them,” said Young, when speaking of the Frog Lake team.

Friday night proved to be the turning point in the series, as the Canadiens came back home to win in front of their home crowd.

“They wanted to get it done at home,” said Young, when speaking of Friday’s game. He noted there was some disappointment following game three and game four in Frog Lake, but after the win at home on Friday, the energy picked up.

Young said it was a good series to be part of, and the fan support on both sides was amazing to see. Friday night’s game in St. Paul saw nearly as many fans in attendance to cheer on the T-Birds, as there were cheering on the Canadiens.

“It’s going to be an exciting time for the community,” said Young, as he looks forward to the final matchup of the NEAJBHL playoffs.

Despite being knocked out in the second round of playoffs, the Frog Lake T-Birds saw a lot of success over the course of the 2016-17 hockey season. The team finished third overall, and two of its players received NEAJBHL league awards.

Joshua Swampy received a Top Defensemen Award, along with a First Team All Star Award for his performance over the course of the season, while Dallas Desjarlais received a Second Team All Star Award.

“My biggest inspiration has always been my parents and my big brother Joe. My hometown of Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis plays a big role with my hockey and I’m very proud to represent my Swampy heritage there, but to also represent my Dion family heritage in Frog Lake First Nation, which is why I chose to play with the T-Birds,” said Swampy, when speaking of the awards he received.

Swampy credited his Cree culture to helping his gain confidence as an athlete, and to persevere in whatever task is presented. He added that playing hockey in Frog Lake has inspired him to learn even more about his culture.

“I’m very honoured to receive these awards, and credit my brother as he has won the same with the Heritage Jr. B and with the Leduc Midget15 as Top Defence. We both are alumni to Team Alberta, representing our family with the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships as well.”

Swampy says he plans to use what he’s learned to help young aboriginal athletes achieve their goals, “so that they never give up and that they continue to excel in hockey and represent their families and communities with pride.”

As for his own future with the sport, Swampy says once he finishes off playing Junior B hockey, he hopes to coach and mentor other players, and continue playing hockey for as long as he can.

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