Chase Faulkner’s extraordinary performance in the 2017 Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League playoffs has become even more incredible.
Faulkner scored a hat trick, including the series-winner in double overtime, to eliminate the Pembina Valley Twisters with a 4-3 win in game six of their MMJHL semifinal in Morris April 5. The Jets won the series 4-2 and will advance to the MMJHL final against the sixth-seeded Raiders Jr. Hockey Club.
Last year, Stonewall won their first-ever Jack Mackenzie Trophy as MMJHL champions, sweeping the Twisters in the final.
Faulkner, who joined the Jets before the 2015-16 season after winning the RBC Cup with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, has 16 goals and 13 assists for 29 points. His goal total is twice that of the Raiders’ Nicholas Mathews, who is second in playoff goal scoring with eight.
“Chase was so dominant,” Stonewall co-coach Brock Couch wrote in an email to The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times.
“There’s not much anyone can do with him down in the corners and around the net.”
Despite their relatively low seeding, the Jets are not taking the Raiders lightly.
“They just shut down the number-one team (Charleswood Hawks) and limited them to under 30 shots a few times in (their semifinal)...Playoffs is a totally different show and anything can happen. We expect to have to adjust to the type of system they’re playing to get zone entry, but if we stick to our plan and stay in our offensive ways, I feel good about our chances,” Couch added.
After no scoring in the first period, Pembina Valley broke the deadlock on Matthew Hadley’s goal at 2:45. Stonewall replied with Faulkner’s marker at 4:07 and his teammate Kyle Doak gave the Jets a 2-1 lead on the power play at 6:40. Alex Tetrault tied the game for the Twisters at 10:16 and Fraser Mirrlees converted on the power play at 15:42 for a 3-2 Pembina Valley lead.
With 4:13 remaining in the third, Faulkner tied the game for the Jets and later received a golden opportunity to re-take the lead. The Twisters’ Corey Mazinke was called for boarding Stonewall’s Stephen MacKenzie and given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. However, the Twisters killed the penalty, which extended into overtime.
Devin Muir thought he had won the series for Stonewall with split-seconds left in the first overtime period, but the referee determined the puck crossed the line after time expired, nullifying the goal.
In the second overtime, Pembina Valley’s Braeden Beernaerts was called for two separate slashing penalties, but again, the Jets could not convert on the power plays.
Hunter Ploszay made 59 saves in the victory for Stonewall, while Matt Kohlman stopped 64 shots for the Twisters.
The schedule for the MMJHL final has not been released, but game one is expected to be at the Veterans Memorial Sports Complex in Stonewall April 9.