The last two Hanover Tache Junior Hockey League champions meet Friday (8 p.m.) in St. Jean in game one of the best-of-seven final.

The reigning champion Red River Mudbugs face the Springfield Xtreme who they lost to in the HTJHL final two years ago.

"We know being a veteran group, that this is kind of our window to advance and to go on a deep run," said Red River coach Mike Funk. "We're trying to take advantage of it as best we can and all the credit to the guys. They've done a great job all year staying focused, not being complacent and here we are again."

The first place Mudbugs, who swept the St. Adolphe Hawks in last years final, had a first round bye and then eliminated the Steinbach Huskies in five games in the semifinals.

"It was good to get some time off," Funk said. "We had some guys who were a little banged up so that gave them a little extra time to get rested and ready to go. Overall I thought we played a pretty good series against Steinbach. The Huskies work hard, they're a really hard skating team and they didn't make it easy for us."

Red River took three of four games from Springfield during their regular season series but the Mudbugs and Xtreme haven't seen each other for quite a while.

That fourth and final game was way back on December 13th.

Funk says his team is looking forward to facing Springfield.

"They play a really strong team game. They skate really well. Doesn't matter what time of the game it is or what the score is - they don't take a shift off. They're always going hard. That was kind of the message to our guys is to make sure that we're ready to match and excede that intensity because that's what it's going to take to win."

The Xtreme nearly suffered an early playoff exit.

Springfield dropped the first two games of their best-of-five opening round series to the Mitchell Mohawks and then won three straight elimination games.

The Xtreme kept that momentum going as they knocked off the Lorette Comets four games to two in the semifinals.

"This is a room of young players that really believe in themselves," said Springfield coach Kevin Maslechko. "As a coaching staff we're just clearing the path for them and letting these guys work with each other. They're a very strong group of guys that believe in each other."

The Xtreme bench boss was very decisive when asked that the key is against the Mudbugs.

"Discipline, discipline, discipline. Red River's power play is very, very, very good and penalty killing is something we struggled with this year. We're going to have to play a clean hockey game."

Springfield has been solid in their own zone in the playoffs.

Trey Blank and Quinn Walterson have allowed just 28 goals in 11 games.

"Our goaltending has been paramount to our success," said Maslechko. "We have a 1 and A1 combination and our defense, they bought into the message that we've been coaching all year and they're executing right now."

Game two goes Sunday (8 p.m.) in Oakbank.

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Friday, March 22nd

Grunthal at Ste. Anne, 7:30 p.m.
(best of 7 final tied 2-2)

Steinbach at Swan Valley, 7:30 p.m.
(1st game in best of 7 semifinal)

Manitoba at Colorado, 8:05 p.m.

Minnesota at Washington, 6 p.m.
San Jose at Anaheim, 9 p.m.

Memphis at Orlando, 6 p.m.
L.A. Clippers at Cleveland, 6:30 p.m.
Oklahoma City at Toronto, 6:30 p.m.
Denver at New York, 6:30 p.m.
San Antonio at Houston, 7 p.m.
Miami at Milwaukee, 7:30 p.m.
Brooklyn at L.A. Lakers, 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 21st

Grunthal 4 Ste. Anne 3
(best of 7 final tied 2-2)

Springfield 4 Red River 3
(Mudbugs lead best of 7 final 2-1)

Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League
Wpg Wild 6 Brandon 3
(1st game in best of 5 final)

Vegas 5 Winnpeg 0 
Tampa Bay 6 Carolina 3
Boston 5 New Jersey 1
Florida 4 Arizona 2
Montreal 4 N.Y. Islanders 0
St. Louis 5 Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 2 Nashville 1 (SO)
Philadelphia 3 Chicago 1
Colorado 3 Dallas 1
Edmonton 4 Columbus 1
Calgary 5 Ottawa 1
Los Angeles 4 Vegas 2

Major League Baseball
American League
Seattle 5 Oakland 4 (12 innings)

Denver 113 Washington 108
Charlotte 113 Minnesota 106
Atlanta 117 Utah 114
Detroit 118 Phoenix 98
Sacramento 116 Dallas 100 
Golden State 112 Indiana 89