Beavers lock up first place and bye through first round

The Carman Beavers are in first place in the SEMHL with one game remaining in the regular season. It won't matter, though, as the Beavers have locked up a bye through the first round of the playoffs which get going Friday night. (Aaron Wilgosh/Postmedia)

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firThe Carman Beavers locked up first place in the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League with their 5-4 win over the Notre Dame Hawks Thursday night and will enjoy a bye through the first round of the playoffs thanks to the team’s 14-4-1 record through 19 games, their final game is Wednesday night against the Hawks.

The Beavers and Hawks went back and forth through the first period last week. The Beavers opened the scoring at 11:45 when captain Aaron Lewadniuk lit the lamp with assists going to Austin Douglas and Geoff Maloney. Next, it was Laurent Benjamin, who finished the game with a hat-trick. He scored with seven minutes left on the clock to make it 2-0 Carman. The Hawks were able to tie the game in the final five minutes of the first. Chris Prejet and Hawks’ import Matt Gingera each picked up goals in the opening period.

The Beavers managed to pull away a little in the second. Benjamin notched his second goal of the game at 12:48. It was a power-play goal with assists going to Mark Owen and Lewadniuk. Jeff Clark managed to tie the game 3-3 a couple of minutes later when he scored an unassisted marker for the Hawks. The Beavers continued to press and Benjamin was able to find the back of the net for a third and final time to make it 4-3 heading into the final frame.

The momentum would switch from one team to another in the third but neither goaltender would break in the first half. Leo Lotscher finally gave the Beavers some breathing room with just 8 minutes to play when he made it 5-3 off a great pass from Jason Rose. Prejet would add one more for the Hawks with 3 minutes left on the clock but Notre Dame couldn’t tie the game with the net empty.

Carman goaltender Steve Christie made 22 saves to pick up another victory this season. Brett Timmerman stopped 26 shots for the loss.

The SEMHL Regular Season comes to a close Wednesday night with the Carman Beavers taking on the Notre Dame Hawks. The Beavers have clinched first place and a bye through the first round of the playoffs regardless of the outcome of the match with the Hawks. The Warren Mercs finished in Second, Portage is in third and the Morden Redskins sit fourth heading into the playoffs. Altona is in fifth, Notre Dame sits sixth and Winkler is in the last place spot.

The South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League 2018-19 Playoffs get going Friday night with two games on the schedule. The Warren Mercs (2) welcome the Winkler Flyers (7) for Game 1 of their series at 8 p.m. while the Hawks (6) make the trip to Portage to take on the Islanders (3) at 7:30. The Morden Redskins and Altona Maroons don’t get going until February 12.

The Beavers will pick things up in the second round against the lowest seeded team.