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Wednesday, 27 March 2013 11:53

Broncos draft pick enjoys championship success

Written by  Brad Brown
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Calling it lucky would be a little unfair, but this No. 7 was definitely a good one for Jackson Keane.

The Swift Current Broncos draft pick was four-plus periods into his seventh straight game without a goal when he scored the double-overtime winner Sunday to give the Winnipeg Wild a 4-3 win over their cross-town rival Thrashers and take home the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League provincial championship.
“It was a little bit of a battle in front of the net, the puck popped out and I just tried to rip it as hard as I could,” said Keane. “I didn’t even see it go in. I just heard the reaction of the crowd and that’s how I knew.
“For sure, hands down, the biggest goal I’ve ever scored.”
Keane, the son of three-time Stanley Cup winner Mike, was drafted 73rd overall by the Broncos in the 2013 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.
As a 15-year-old rookie he led the Wild (former home of ex-Bronco Cody Eakin) and finished third in the league with 31 goals this season. In spite of his recent slump, he also finished tied for fourth in league playoff scoring with 13 points in 10 games.
“Jackson struggled in that series a little bit to find the back of the net,” said Wild head coach Paul Krueger. “He certainly had his opportunities, but for some reason the pucks weren’t going in for him and it was frustrating him a little bit. So certainly it was a big monkey off of his back and he was relieved and we were all relieved to see that too.”
The Broncos, who lacked reliable scoring touch this season, will be relieved too if they eventually sign Keane.
For the moment though Keane will be most relieved if he can help his team advance through regionals and on to the Telus Cup national championship tournament.
“That’s the ultimate goal is the Telus Cup,” he said. “The Wild have had teams in the past that made it there and I think we have a good enough team with lots of character.”
With their respective regional tournaments still between them, one of Keane’s potential opponents at the Telus Cup is fellow Broncos draftee Domenic Masellis.
Masellis, a 15-year-old blueliner for the Vancouver Northwest Giants, was drafted 22 spots ahead of Keane. He also helped his team Sunday to a provincial league championship, in a 1-0 win over the Okanagan Rockets.
“Coming back against the Greater Vancouver Giants (in the league semifinal), after the first game, we didn’t know what was going on because we’d never lost to them all season,” said Masellis. “We had to come back and win back-to-back games against them, which wasn’t easy, and we did it and I think that was our turning point.”
It was the second championship of the year for the Giants, who also won the Mac’s Tournament in Calgary on New Year’s Day, but neither is the one they truly want.
“It was extremely exciting and we enjoyed it but we started this season with the goal in mind of reaching the Telus Cup and winning provincials is more just relief that we got through,” said Giants head coach Clint Thornton.
And Thornton expects Masellis — even as a 15-year-old on a team with 11 third-year midgets — to be a big part of whatever comes next.
“He came in and he’s proven himself to be able to play at this level,” said Thornton. “He has the ability to simplify his game in difficult situations and he just seems to be able to keep up to the pace even as a 15-year-old.
“He’s done a fantastic job adapting to a higher level of play. He skates well. He’s very positionally sound. With that size and strength even when he does get in trouble he is big enough and strong enough that he seems to find ways to get himself out of it.”
Keane’s western regionals will be played April 4-7 in Kenora, Ont. Masellis’ Telus Cup qualifier goes April 6-8 in Vancouver.

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