By Carter Brooks
Photo courtesy of the Swan Valley Stampeders
2018-19 has been a season to remember for the Swan Valley Stampeders. It will become even more memorable on Friday evening as the Stamps invade Stride Place in their first-ever appearance in the MJHL final.
Boasting a 42-13-5 record, the Stamps fell just six points short of the Portage Terriers for first place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League this past year. Considering the team just snuck into the postseason as the final representative in 2017-18, after finishing in ninth place in 2016-17, second place is a huge turnaround for Swan Valley.
Now currently set to begin their very first best-of-seven MJHL championship with those same Portage Terriers, the Stampeders will look to rely on their top players once again. Leading the way for Swan Valley are 21-year-old forwards Bradly Goethals and Josh Tripp. Goethals is sitting atop the league's point leaderboard through 10 postseason games, sitting three points ahead of Portage's Chase Brakel and four points ahead of teammate Tripp.
Tripp has nine playoff tallies, while adding two assists, compared to Goethals seven goals and eight assists. After scoring in all four game against the Dauphin Kings, Tripp put up another five goals while beating out the defending league champion Steinbach Pistons in six contests. For his work, the Swan River product was once again awarded the MJHL's Player of the Week honour. Tripp led the league in scoring in 2018-19, finishing the year with 36 goals and 84 points - just five points ahead of Goethals.
Goethals - the Mike Ridley Trophy runner up - has also been a force to reckon with in the postseason. He is currently on a 10-game point scoring streak, while the 6-foot-1, 185-pound forward has 24 points in his last 16 games, dating back to the regular season. Goethals has contributed at least one point in each of his playoff games this year.
The Stampeders will certainly be in tough against Portage, however Swan Valley did win three of five regular season contests against the Terriers. Puck drop for game one of the best-of-seven series goes at 7:30 PM central from Stride Place in Portage Friday evening.