Jared Story - The Times - April 22, 2015

Raiders forwards Mike Lazo (front) and Zaz Oleksiw face the camera during
Hockey Manitoba’s 100th Anniversary Outdoor Series at Red River Community Centre
in December. Lazo was forced to patrol the blueline in the MMJHL finals due to injuries to
defencemen Eric Hansey and Ryan Sholdice

A beat-up Raiders squad was no match for the Riels.

The St. Boniface Riels swept the Raiders Jr. Hockey Club in the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League finals. The series sweep came despite the fact the Raiders finished atop the MMJHL in the regular season with 69 points, a full six points up on the Riels.

Raiders president and GM Lorne "Ned" Sanders said his team’s backend was decimated in the finals, with veteran defencemen Eric Hansey and Ryan Sholdice suffering season-ending injuries in the semifinals against the River East Knights.

Also, Raiders forward Cole Thalman was injured for the season in February.

Sanders said veteran forwards Nikolas Loeppky and Mike Lazo also missed time in the playoffs — Loeppky due to injury and Lazo due to a five-game suspension that forced him to miss most of the semifinals.

"All teams have injuries. Our injuries for whatever reason came in the playoffs," Sanders said.
Injuries hurt the Raiders, but Sanders is the first to admit his squad got beat by a very good hockey team. The Riels pounded the Raiders 6-2, 5-2 and 6-1 in the first three games before winning game four by a score of 2-1.

"They were a very determined group, right from their goaltender out," Sanders said. "They had a couple additions they picked up at the trade deadline. They picked up Nick Doyle from Fort Garry at the trade deadline and he scored some highlight reel goals, and they were big goals, timely goals."
Doyle potted 11 goals and 23 points in 14 games in the playoffs. However, it was his Riels teammate, goaltender Ryan Grossmueller, who was named playoff MVP. Grossmueller put up a record of nine wins and one overtime loss in the playoffs, not to mention a 1.90 goals against average and .935 save percentage.

Despite the disappointing end to the Raiders season, Sanders said he was impressed at how well his team coped with the barrage of injuries. He said Raiders forwards Lazo and Devin Manness were forced to patrol the blue line in the absence of Hansey and Sholdice.
Sanders said he was particularly impressed with Manness, an MMJHL rookie, who stands only 5-8 and weighs 160 pounds.
"He’s a forward but he played some defence in high school with Sisler," Sanders said. "He’s just a tiny little guy, but with a good hockey IQ he and can skate, so when we put him back there it was like he was there all along."

Sanders said he’s already looking forward to next season, when the team will most likely play in the new Seven Oaks Arena. The team would have its own dedicated dressing room and its dry-land training partner, NRG Athletes Therapy Fitness, is located on the second level of the building.

Website Builder