To win one championship trophy in hockey, whether it's in a league or in provincials, is a challenging task to accomplish for any hockey team. But to win both titles in a single season is hard to come by.
The Eston Midget Ramblers managed to do just that this year, defeating Macklin in the league finals and Delisle in the provincial finals to win the double.
It has been an incredible winter for the Ramblers who won the majority of their games over the last several months. During the regular season in league play, Eston picked up 21 of a possible 24 wins on their schedule to finish in first place. They tied twice, once to the Kerrobert/Dodsland/Luseland Tigers and another to the Macklin Mohawks, while only dropping one game all year long to the Rosetown Redwings during their outdoor game.
Their road to the provincial finals was no picnic either. Despite travelling long distances to face teams like Shaunavon and Carlyle, the Ramblers took seven of their eight games throughout the tournament.
Darcy Morrice couldn't be more thrilled for what his players were able to achieve this season. The Ramblers head coach explains that they wanted to take this season to the next level after last year they won the league, but fell short of claiming a provincial banner.
Once it was time for the league playoffs, the Ramblers were up against Unity with a spot in the championship series on the line. Eston ended up dropping their first game to Unity 4-2 over at the Unity Community Centre, but bounced back in Game 2 at home to take the semifinal 10-6 based on total goals.
Eston and Macklin met in this year's best-of-3 finals with both teams hungry to end the season with a league championship. Game 1 needed double overtime after the teams were locked up in a 4-4 tie after regulation. At 15:56 in the fifth period, Ramblers forward Turner Somerville scored the biggest goal of the season past Mohawks goaltender Kyle Hohmann, winning Game 1 for Eston by a 5-4 final in front of the home faithful.
Game 2 had the teams swing over to the Macklin and District Communiplex. There, Mitch Braaten put Eston up 5-4 near the end of the 2nd, before Kaden Gramlich finished the job with the Ramblers' sixth goal of the night, giving Eston a 2-0 series win to claim the league trophy.
Morrice gives his thoughts on the series and the hard work his players brought to the ice in order to become champions.
Playing on the southern side of the SHA Midget B Provincials tournament, the Ramblers picked up total-goal wins over Maple Creek (14-4), Shaunavon (11-4), and Carlyle (8-5) to punch their place in the finals series against the Delisle Midget Bruins.
On home ice to begin the matchup, Eston gave themselves the advantage of winning the series with a 7-2 victory heading into Game 2. In Delisle, the Bruins didn't have enough in the tank to fight back in the series, with the Ramblers earning a 2-1 road win, taking the series 9-3 and claiming the provincial banner.
As Morrice mentioned earlier in the interview, it's his understanding that no team in Eston minor hockey has ever won both the provincial and league titles in a single season. This team the coaching staff was able to ice was no doubt a special one; each player and coach had an instrumental part in helping the team reach their goal from the fall. But the head coach also wanted to give kudos to the community for all the support they gave to the club throughout the winter months.
11 players are moving on from Eston's midget hockey program following the 2018-2019 season. Some will go to university or the workforce; others might test out the senior hockey route or even look into competing at the junior hockey level.
While there will be a group of returning players back in Ramblers colours next season, the organization can look forward to a crop of fresh bantam faces who will be joining the team next year hoping to make their mark early on with the Midget Ramblers.
For now, Darcy and the rest of the team are still enjoying that taste of success after a memorable end to the season as they get ready to enjoy the summer months ahead.