Catching the undefeated Portage Islanders for top spot is mathematically impossible but the Ste. Anne Aces are looking to hang on to second place when the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League’s regular season schedule ends in just over two weeks.

“It’s always nice to be at the top of the standings and try to get a favorable match up in the playoffs but for us I think we just want to worry about ourselves and be at the place where we want to be going into the playoffs,” said Ste. Anne veteran defenseman Yvan Pattyn.

The first place Islanders are 13-0.

The Aces are 9-4-0-2 and are three points ahead of the third place Warren Mercs and five points up on the Ile des Chenes Northstars, Red River Wild and Morden Bombers who are tied for fourth spot.

Ste. Anne did not lose in regulation until game eight when they dropped a 6-1 decision to the Islanders at Stride Place one month into the season.

“It’s always nice to have that good start,” Pattyn said. “It was a little bit tough when you haven’t played for a while with what happened the last few years, so it was nice to get started on the right foot. Now we just have to fine-tune things coming up to the end of the season. Good season so far for us. We find that it’s been a competitive league, lots of balance and it’s been a fun transition for us coming from the CSHL.”

Pattyn says the team's strength is their depth throughout the lineup.

“We have four good lines, six good D and solid goalies. Our goal is to run all lines and try to wear teams out and win that way.”

The Aces last Carillon Senior Hockey League game was March 11th, 2020.

The four-time CSHL champions first SEMHL game was October 28th, 2022, which turned out to be a 3-2 victory over the Royals in Winkler.

“I think we were all just a little relieved to get back on the ice and kind of get the jitters and excitement out,” commented Pattyn. “It was nice to come out with a win. It might not have been the prettiest game, but it was nice to just be out there skating and having fun out there with the guys.”

The Aces, Northstars and Wild have combined to win 22 games so far in their first season in the SEMHL.

“I think it represents what the CSHL was,” noted Pattyn. “We were a competitive league just lacking teams so it’s nice to have 10 teams this year and seeing a few more opponents. It’s good to see that we can play with whoever in Manitoba.”

Ste. Anne will face the Bombers in Morden on Saturday; host the Notre Dame Hawks the following Saturday and then play their regular season finale on January 31st against the Northstars in Ile des Chenes.