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Local talent on display at Caps' showcase

By Aaron Wilgosh, The Graphic

Logan Calder battles with an Interlake defender during Central Plains' 2-0 victory Sunday evening to cap off the 2017 Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League Weekend Showcase at Portage Mutual Arena in Portage la Prairie. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)

Logan Calder battles with an Interlake defender during Central Plains' 2-0 victory Sunday evening to cap off the 2017 Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League Weekend Showcase at Portage Mutual Arena in Portage la Prairie. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)

Five of a possible six points is a good weekend by any standards.

The Central Plains Capitals went 2-0-1 over the weekend as they played host to all 12 other Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League teams during the league's 2017 Showcase Weekend at Stride Place in Portage la Prairie.

“Overall, we're happy but we'd like to get the wins a little differently,” says Caps' head coach, Brad Gnidziejko. “The game versus the Wild was good because we took huge strides forward in a bunch of different areas.

“We were way better in our own end, (had) better breakouts, and everyone was coming back hard. (Today) we weren't as lively, we definitely had to work a lot harder than we should have to get that victory.”

It was a good start to the weekend for the Caps, winning 5-2 over the Norman Northstars. The home club took a 4-2 lead into the third thanks to goals by Capitals' Max Neill and Brandon Kochen, as each scored twice in the first 40 minutes. Joe Courrier would add one more for the Capitals in the third on the power play to cap off the scoring. Goalie Rhett Boschman made 21 stops for the win.

Saturday was the Capitals' toughest challenge of the showcase. They fell 3-2 to the Winnipeg Wild in overtime, stealing a point after scoring twice in the third period to tie the game at two. Logan Calder lit the lamp just 24 seconds in and Aiden Panko tied the game at the eight-minute mark. Just when it looked like the Caps might complete the comeback, Tristan Thompson scored for the Wild to end it. Riley Sveistrup was awarded the overtime loss with 30 saves on the night.

Goaltending stole the show in Central Plains' final game of the weekend. They took out the Interlake Lightning 2-0 to finish the showcase 2-0-1. Max Neill played hero again in this one, scoring both Capitals' goals, notching one in the first and another at the start of the third. Sveistrup picked up the shutout victory, stopping all 25 shots he faced.

“We're still at a point where we're learning to dictate the pace. When we get the puck on our stick, there are decisions to be made, and the faster we can make them, the faster we'll play,” admits Gnidziejko. “We're in the process of learning how to play a little faster, processing information quicker, and making the right decision sooner. That will be the process all year I expect.”

The Caps are back in Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League action Saturday when they host Brandon at the BDO Centre in Portage.



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