Things just keep getting better for the Kindersley Klippers and Northerners are putting up some great numbers in the process. Yellowknife’s Devin Case and Fort Smith’s Shaun MacPherson scored five goals and had four assists between them in the Klippers’ recent sweep of their best-of-seven, first-round playoff series in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
The series started Mar. 13 when the Klippers blasted the Battlefords North Stars 9-0 as Case had a goal and MacPherson had an assist. On Mar. 15, Kindersley claimed the only close win of the series: a 3-2 double-overtime victory over the North Stars with Case notching one goal in that game.
Game three saw Kindersley thump the North Stars 6-2 as Case had a goal and an assist while MacPherson had one helper on Mar. 17. Last Wednesday, the series concluded with MacPherson notching a pair of markers and an assist in a 4-0 shutout for Kindersley.
Historically, playoff series between Kindersley and Battlefords – the team’s nearest geographical opponent – have not been this easy.
“Our games with them were close during the regular season with a couple of them won in overtime,” Kindersley assistant coach Chris Forsman said. “We certainly were not expecting a sweep, but it was nice to do that.”
Both Forsman and MacPherson feel that game two was a huge win for Kindersley and marked a turning point for the Klippers.
“Our goalie made a great save on a penalty shot in the first overtime period,” MacPherson said. “The North Stars had a breakaway and our defenceman intentionally knocked the net off and the ref gave them a penalty shot.
“If they had scored, the game would have been over and the series would have been tied 1-1. It was a gamble that paid off.”
Getting the first goal in game one and especially game two were really big, Forsman said.
“We shut them out in game one but it really sets the tone when you get one early like we did then in the first couple of minutes,” he said. “In game four, we scored the first goal near the end of the first period on a power play.”
The team’s power play and goaltending were both strong during the whole series, Forsman said.
“Evan’s (Weninger) save percentage was incredible,” Forsman said. “We have the best goaltender in the league and maybe across the entire country at the junior A level.”
Case felt his team played well.
“It was a great series for us and I liked the way we got those wins,” he said. “We got great contributions from everyone.”
For his part, Forsman praised Case’s play.
“He has really played well since coming back from that injury (dislocated knee cap),” Forsman said. “His plus-minus is really good and his two-way play is impressive.”
Whoever they play in the semi-finals, the Klippers will be at home starting this Friday night against Flin Flon or Notre Dame depending on who wins the series between those two clubs. If Kindersley wins their semi-final series, they will have home ice advantage in the finals against all teams except Melfort who finished first overall in the regular season.
“Our league is so strong that any team who makes it to the semifinals will present a challenge to us,” Forsman said. “It will not be as easy this time.”