The Grunthal Red Wings and Ste. Anne Aces met in two memorable Carillon Senior Hockey League finals in the spring of 2018 and 2019.

Both years the Aces avoided a one-game winner take all showdown by beating the Red Wings in overtime in game six to win the hockey team’s fourth and fifth CSHL titles.

Another game six was on the horizon this season.

Grunthal and Ste. Anne had split the first four games of the best-of seven final when the 2019-2020 season was shutdown on Friday, March 13th because of COVID-19.

“We were disappointed to see that happen,” said CSHL president Stacey Neufeld. “Both teams were playing really well and I thought it was going to turn out to be a six or seven games series. They asked if they could play one game, winner take all type of thing, but our hands were tied. Hockey Manitoba and Hockey Canada basically said everything was shutdown.”

As a result no champion was crowned for the Carillon Senior Hockey League’s 17th season which featured just four teams, the Aces, Red Wings, Steinbach Huskies and Red River Wild.

Neufeld says the league, which consisted of eight teams seven years ago, has to grow.

“Playing each team so many times, it’s not boring but it’s a different atmosphere. It totally changes how the game is played. If you only see them a couple of times during the year and then see them in the playoffs, it makes for a much more exciting season.”

There are options.

“Possibly link up with the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League and pull a few teams from there and make two divisions,” Neufeld said. “Also try to get more teams back in the fold. Try to get Springfield back and try to get Ile des Chenes and Lorette to pair up together. There’s also Niverville and St. Malo. There’s so much potential out there and so much talent.”

“Everybody has to work the next day and some guys are saying they don’t want to get hurt,” noted Neufeld. “This year there weren’t a lot of injuries. We had one bad one in the playoffs with a player breaking his leg. Otherwise it seems the game is getting a little cleaner. Our refs have been doing a great job cleaning up the game. It would be nice to see the guys say this league still is pretty good, and if they want some competitive hockey this is a great league to be in.”

2019-2020 CSHL Award Winners

MVP & Most Valuable Goaltender: Byron Spriggs, Grunthal Red Wings
Most Valuable Forward: Daniel Taillefer, Steinbach Huskies
Most Valuable Defenseman: Brennan Ritchie, Ste. Anne Aces
Most Gentlemanly Player: Tyler Kimbell, Grunthal Red Wings
Rookie of the Year: Riley Beauchemin, Ste. Anne Aces
Top Scorer: Brett Dudar, Red River Wild
Coach of the Year: Nathan Bolduc, Red River Wild
Manager of the Year: Dave Penner, Grunthal Red Wings

photo courtesy Shannon Normandeau