The final days of 2018 are here and it will prove to be a memorable year for many.  West Central Online is looking back at some of the biggest stories from 2018 in a year in review: 
The Sask West Hockey League is home to some exciting hockey action, the 2017-18 season came to a close with a milestone victory for the Wilkie Outlaws who gained their fourth championship in a row.


Before last Friday night, no team had ever won the Saskatchewan West Hockey League trophy four seasons in a row. But it all changed on Friday night in Wilkie.

The Wilkie Outlaws won their fourth consecutive SWHL title in front of a packed Wilkie Community Centre when they defeated the Kindersley Red Lions 10-2 in game 3. A large number of fans stayed back to watch the team celebrate a joyous end to yet another memorable season.

In the first period, it was all Wilkie when the game started out. Garrett Cameron and Ryne Keller managed to slip pucks by Red Lions goaltender Luke Sproule to give the Outlaws an early 2-0 lead before the halfway point of the period.

Kindersley's defence tightened up though, and within a couple minutes, a quick wrist shot from Ethan Wigley brought the Lions within a goal with 10:10 left in the first.

Several minutes later, the Outlaws would retain their two-goal lead from a Brock Harrison shorthanded breakaway goal. It wouldn't be the last time he'd score in that game either.

3-1 is where the teams sat the start of the second period. Both Kindersley and Wilkie came crashing out of the gates ready to make a difference in the second.

wilkie outlaws vs kindersley red lions 18 playoffs.jpg

Goaltender Luke Sproule of the Red Lions covers up the puck with a couple Outlaws players searching for the rebound. (photo: Phil Heilman)

Despite good chances going both ways, it was Kindersley's Kyle Cummings who released a slap shot fast enough to fly past Wilkie's Jared Herle to bring the Red Lions back into a one-goal game.

At the time, everyone may have thought this game was going to go down to the wire once again as it did in games 1 and 2. But the midway point of the second period would be what people call the "turning point" of the game.

The Red Lions and Outlaws started taking some penalties, but after everything was calculated, the Red Lions found themselves on the penalty kill. At 13:55, Rory Gregoire moved Wilkie's lead back to two goals after his marker to make it 4-2.

 

The floodgates would open from there for both goals and penalties.

Brock Harrison, Mitch Suchan and Kendall Fransoo all found the back of the net between 6:48 and 3:41 to push Wilkie's lead to 7-2.

To make matters worse for the Red Lions, their bench became shorter by the end of the period after Jesse Gramlich received a gross misconduct and Jordan Getz was handed a game misconduct after the pair were involved in a scuffle in the Wilkie defensive zone.

Wilkie's Andrew Herle was the only Outlaws player missing in this game after he received a 5 minute penalty for slashing in the first.

If fans thought the rough stuff was going to end at that point, they were greatly mistaken.

Before the game started to really get out of hand, Ryne Keller notched his second goal of the game at 12:48 to make it an 8-2 game.

At 10:28 in the third, the referees and linesmen rolled up their sleeves as fights broke out on the ice. Byron Ismond and Rick Cey started feeding each other knuckle sandwiches and were both kicked out of the game.

Outlaws defenceman Reece Fenrich and Kindersley's Nick Neurater and DJay McGrath were also given ten-minute misconducts.

Red Lions captain John Calkins and Outlaws defenceman Kendall Fransoo also received games after they fought near the Wilkie net following Scott Bronwlee's 5-minute goalie interference call. Brownlee and Neurater would hit the showers early after taking game misconducts as well.

The Outlaws managed to add a little salt to the wound in the last few minutes of the third. Robert Keller tallied his first goal of the game, and Brock Harrison found the twine once more to complete the natural hat trick, bringing their lead to 10-2.

With the game winding down to its last moments, the home fans rose to their feet and gave an ovation to an incredible finish to the year for their team.

Gloves, helmets and sticks were shed throughout the ice as the Outlaws began celebrating once the clock expired. Their fourth title in a row as a member of the SWHL, but their 6th if you include their back-to-back wins in the North Sask River Hockey League.

Wilkie Outlaws netminder Jared Herle was awarded playoff MVP by SWHL President Ron Amy. (photo: Phil Heilman)

 

 

Jared Herle was awarded the Most Valuable Player Award for the playoffs after posting an undefeated record with a goals against average of 2.68 and .906 save percentage.

"It was pretty unexpected," said Herle after receiving the honour of playoff MVP. "I have a great defence, and on all four lines, guys are backchecking hard. That's a team award for sure."

From the sounds of it, the majority of their lineup will be back for the 2018-2019 season.

For now, they'll enjoy their fourth Sask West championship banner up in the Community Centre. But expect them to be one of the favourites for a fifth banner by this time next year.

Wilkie's captains joined SWHL President Ron Amy for the presentation of the SWHL championship trophy. From left to right: Andrew Herle, Rick Cey, Mike Sittler, Ron Amy, Will Rathje. (photo: Phil Heilman)

 

 

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