GMHL National Championship Preview: High Prairie Red WingsMarch 28th, 2023 at 3:33AM March 28th, 2023 8:34AM
The spot in the GMHL National Championship reserved for the winner of the West tournament was officially claimed on the weekend by the High Prairie Redwings who swept their West Division Finals 2-0 over the Mackenzie Mountaineers. The Red Wings will join the host Titans, the North York Renegades and the Bradford Rattlers in Temiscaming this week for the first ever GMHL National Championship.
The Red Wings, much like the Renegades earned their spot in the National Championship by running through their division playoffs without suffering a loss. The #1 seed in the West coming into playoffs with a 39-3-0 record (Most Wins and Tied for the most points in the entire GMHL) they had a first round bye in the Alberta playoffs, before sweeping their semi-final matchup against the Fox Creek Ice Kings, then sweeping the Northern Alberta Tomahawks in the Alberta finals, before eventually finishing up a perfect West Playoff run against the Mountaineers.
In the regular season the Red Wings were led offensively by the league leading goal scorer and Top Forward Runner-Up Kaden Cardinal who was acquired from Slave Lake and had 54 Goals on the season and Keegan Ferguson who was 3rd in the west division in scoring leading High Prairie with 105 points in 34 games. Also in the talented forward group are fellow Forward of the Year nominee Ethan Many Bears, and GMHL West MVP Dayton Shantz who finished with 90 and 82 points respectively. Rounding out the group of forwards who scored 60 or more points during the regular season were Maven McMaster with 66 and Kaden Desjarlais with 65. In the playoffs specifically the leading scorers have matched with the regular season as Ferguson, Cardinal and Shantz have led the team in scoring each with over 30 points in the Red Wings 10 playoff games so far. Austen Rayburn has also added 7 goals in those 10 games for High Prairie.
On the Back end the squad has been led by Captain Avery Mcnabb as well as the aforementioned Desjarlais who have been instrumental in the Red Wings success alongside fellow veteran Gabriel Blais. The group was able to keep an impressive Tomahawks team led by Bryant Joseph and Tyrell Shott from winning a single game in the Alberta finals.
In net the Red Wings had not one but two goaltenders nominated for the West divisions goaltender of the year award with Bradley Roncin taking home the trophy after posting an 18-3-0 record with a Goals Against Average of 2.67 and a Save Percentage of .921. Finishing as one of the runner ups to Roncin was his teammate and partner Dawson Holitzki who had a perfect 11-0-0 record and was the League Leader among qualified goalies in both GAA with a 1.64 and Save Percentage with a .943.
The Red Wings have the farthest distance to travel before the National Championship starts on March 30th, more than 8 times farther than any of the other competing teams with them coming all the way from Alberta. They will play the host Temiscaming Titans on the 30th, then the winner of the South the North York Renegades on the 31st, before finishing up round robin play against the North Division Winning Bradford Rattlers on April 1st. Should all things go their way for Trent Maynards Red Wings they will be in contention and playing for the National championship on April 2nd.