The last two Hanover Tache Junior Hockey League champions meet Friday (8 p.m.) in St. Jean in game one of the best-of-seven final.

The reigning champion Red River Mudbugs face the Springfield Xtreme who they lost to in the HTJHL final two years ago.

"We know being a veteran group, that this is kind of our window to advance and to go on a deep run," said Red River coach Mike Funk. "We're trying to take advantage of it as best we can and all the credit to the guys. They've done a great job all year staying focused, not being complacent and here we are again."

The first place Mudbugs, who swept the St. Adolphe Hawks in last years final, had a first round bye and then eliminated the Steinbach Huskies in five games in the semifinals.

"It was good to get some time off," Funk said. "We had some guys who were a little banged up so that gave them a little extra time to get rested and ready to go. Overall I thought we played a pretty good series against Steinbach. The Huskies work hard, they're a really hard skating team and they didn't make it easy for us."

Red River took three of four games from Springfield during their regular season series but the Mudbugs and Xtreme haven't seen each other for quite a while.

That fourth and final game was way back on December 13th.

Funk says his team is looking forward to facing Springfield.

"They play a really strong team game. They skate really well. Doesn't matter what time of the game it is or what the score is - they don't take a shift off. They're always going hard. That was kind of the message to our guys is to make sure that we're ready to match and excede that intensity because that's what it's going to take to win."

The Xtreme nearly suffered an early playoff exit.

Springfield dropped the first two games of their best-of-five opening round series to the Mitchell Mohawks and then won three straight elimination games.

The Xtreme kept that momentum going as they knocked off the Lorette Comets four games to two in the semifinals.

"This is a room of young players that really believe in themselves," said Springfield coach Kevin Maslechko. "As a coaching staff we're just clearing the path for them and letting these guys work with each other. They're a very strong group of guys that believe in each other."

The Xtreme bench boss was very decisive when asked that the key is against the Mudbugs.

"Discipline, discipline, discipline. Red River's power play is very, very, very good and penalty killing is something we struggled with this year. We're going to have to play a clean hockey game."

Springfield has been solid in their own zone in the playoffs.

Trey Blank and Quinn Walterson have allowed just 28 goals in 11 games.

"Our goaltending has been paramount to our success," said Maslechko. "We have a 1 and A1 combination and our defense, they bought into the message that we've been coaching all year and they're executing right now."

Game two goes Sunday (8 p.m.) in Oakbank.

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Friday, March 22nd

CSHL
Ste. Anne 5 Grunthal 3
(Aces lead best of 7 final 3-2)

MJHL
Steinbach 3 Swan Valley 2
(1st game in best of 7 semifinal)

AHL
Manitoba 2 Colorado 0

NHL
Minnesota 2 Washington 1
Anaheim 4 San Jose 3 (OT)

NBA
Oklahoma City 116 Toronto 109
Orlando 123 Memphis 119 (OT)
L.A. Clippers 110 Cleveland 108
Denver 111 New York 93
Houston 111 San Antonio 105
Milwaukee 116 Miami 87
Brooklyn 111 L.A. Lakers 106

Saturday, March 23rd

HTJHL
Red River vs Springfield
@ Oakbank, 8 p.m.
(Mudbugs lead best of 7 final 2-1)

MJHL
Steinbach at Swan Valley, 7:30 p.m.
(Pistons lead best of 7 semifinal 1-0)
Virden at Portage, 7:30 p.m.
(1st game in series)

Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League
Wpg Wild at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
(Wild lead best of 5 final 1-0)

AHL
Manitoba at Colorado, 8:05 p.m.

NHL
Arizona at New Jersey, 12 p.m.
N.Y. Islanders at Philadelphia, 12 p.m.
Chicago at Colorado, 2 p.m.
Ottawa at Edmonton, 3 p.m.
Nashville at Winnipeg, 6 p.m.
Boston at Florida, 6 p.m.
Buffalo at Montreal, 6 p.m.
Minnesota at Carolina, 6 p.m.
N.Y. Rangers at Toronto, 6 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Dallas, 7 p.m.
Tampa Bay at St. Louis, 7 p.m.
Detroit at Vegas, 9 p.m.
Calgary at Vancouver, 9 p.m.
Anaheim at Los Angeles, 9:30 p.m.

NBA
Boston at Charlotte, 5 p.m.
Miami at Washington, 6 p.m.
Philadelphia at Atlanta, 6:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Memphis, 7 p.m.
Utah at Chicago, 7 p.m.
Dallas at Golden State, 7:30 p.m.
Detroit at Portland, 9 p.m.
Phoenix at Sacramento, 9 p.m.

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