Regina Rebels win league title, skating closer to Esso Cup return

Regina Leader-Post Staff

The Regina Rebels, who are seeking a coach for next season, won their second straight league championship with a 4-1 victory Wednesday in Wilcox over the Notre Dame Hounds.

Regina swept the best-of-three series to become the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League champion and advance to a West qualifier against the Winnipeg Ice, winner of the Manitoba league.

The Saskatchewan/Manitoba best-of-three series will be played in Winnipeg, with the first game slated for April 4. The winner advances as the West representative to the Esso Cup, April 21-27 in Vernon, against teams representing Ontario, Quebec, the Atlantic Provinces and the Pacific (B.C. and Alberta) region plus the host Thompson-Okanagan Lakers. Regina placed third at last year’s Esso Cup.

The Rebels placed first in league standings this season with a 26-3-1 record, but head coach Mike Merk was suspended before the last regular-season game by Hockey Canada pending an independent third-party complaint.

After Hockey Saskatchewan investigators found no basis in the complaint, Merk’s suspension was lifted before the final series began. Hockey Regina subsequently decided Merk’s replacement, former Rebels coach Kim Perepeluk, would remain in place through the remainder of this season.

Hockey Regina recently began seeking a Rebels head coach for next season. The public postings ask interested candidates to submit their applications to Hockey Regina by April 10.

Perepeluk was non-commital when asked if he wanted to continue coaching. Merk said he has thought about coaching again but was going to take “a little break.”

In Wednesday’s decisive game, two goals by Berlin Lolacher and one by Cedar Swan gave Regina a 3-0 lead midway through the second period before Notre Dame got a goal from Sara Harbus. Stryker Zablocki completed Regina’s scoring in the third period.

Rebels goalie Hannah Tresek made 27 saves while Notre Dame’s Schay Camphaug stopped 19 shots. Notre Dame had placed third in SFU18AAAHL standings.

Blazers capture second straight provincial title.

The Saskatoon Blazers retained their SMU18AAAHL championship by sweeping the Regina Pat Canadians in their best-of-five series.

Saskatoon got two goals from Lee Shurgot to defeat the visiting Pat C’s on Wednesday. Duane Beuker, Jake Missura and Raiden Zacharias also scored for the Blazers. Jonah Sivertson, with two goals, and Michael Donovan replied for Regina.

Blazers goalie Grayson Malinoski stopped 34 shots while Regina’s Taylor Tabashniuk made 40 saves. Saskatoon had placed first in regular-season standings while Regina was second.

Saskatoon, which defeated Regina in last year’s fifth and deciding game of the final series, advances to the west regionals, April 4-7 in Winnipeg against the Brandon Wheat Kings, Thunder Bay Kings and Winnipeg Wild. Five regional champions will advance to the Telus Cup national championship, April 22-28 in Membertou, N.S.