Hounds hun­gry for more after winning Sask. ti­tle

Regina Leader-Post - - SPORTS - ROB VANSTONE rvan­stone@post­media.com twit­ter.com/rob­van­stone

The Notre Dame Hounds are en­joy­ing life as top dogs in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, but the bat­tle is far from won.

Notre Dame is to re­sume its pur­suit of the Telus Cup — the na­tional midget AAA ti­tle — on Thurs­day when a Western re­gional qual­i­fier be­gins in Thun­der Bay, Ont. The win­ner of that four-day event will ad­vance to the Telus Cup, April 2329 in Sud­bury.

To this point, the Hounds have been vir­tu­ally flaw­less.

After post­ing an eye-pop­ping reg­u­lar-sea­son record of 39-2-12, Notre Dame won all nine of its play­off games.

“It’s a good group of char­ac­ter kids, top to bot­tom, that showed up ev­ery day want­ing to get bet­ter and want­ing to work,’’ Hounds head coach De­van Praught said. “It just turns into en­ergy. They’re fired up ev­ery day to get out there.

“As a coach­ing staff, we’ve been im­pressed. It has been a nice ride, for sure, and it’s fun to go to the rink ev­ery day.”

Notre Dame clinched the ti­tle Wed­nes­day with a 3-2 vic­tory over the host Prince Al­bert Min­tos — a con­quest that en­abled the Hounds to sweep the best-of-five championship se­ries.

Wed­nes­day ’s win was es­pe­cially sweet for seven re­turnees from a 2016-17 Hounds squad that fin­ished sec­ond in the reg­u­lar sea­son, only to be bounced by the sev­enth­seeded York­ton RawTec Maulers in the first round.

The septet of in­cum­bents — goalie Ri­ley Ko­hon­ick, de­fence­men Cody Lehner and Quinn Sch­mie­mann, and for­wards Cordel Lar­son, Luke My­lymok, Nolan Ren­wick and Brad Mor­ris­sey — savoured the other end of the spec­trum by help­ing Notre Dame en­joy a spec­tac­u­lar 2017-18 cam­paign.

“I would like to think that even if we had won last year, we’d still be this hun­gry to win, be­cause it’s com­pet­i­tive sports,” Praught said. “You’ve got to want to win ev­ery time you take the ice.”

They nearly ac­com­plished pre­cisely that, winning 48 of 53 reg­u­lar-sea­son and play­off games while outscor­ing the op­po­si­tion 262-81.

“We set a goal as a team early in the sea­son that we wanted to win a na­tional championship,” Praught said. “We’re tak­ing care of the process and we’re not get­ting ahead of our­selves.

“We’re go­ing to fo­cus on prac­tice to­mor­row and take it from there. But when you do take a minute and sit back and take a look at the num­bers, you can’t help but maybe smile a lit­tle bit.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY NOTRE DAME HOUNDS MULTI ME­DIA CLUB

The Notre Dame Hounds cel­e­brate their Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League ti­tle vic­tory Wed­nes­day in Prince Al­bert.

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