Two teams who are playing solid playoff hockey after enduring the ups-and-downs of a tough regular season will meet tonight (8 p.m.) in game one of the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League's best-of-seven final.

The Carman Beavers host the Altona Maroons.

The Beavers, who won four of their last five games and finished in fourth place, eliminated the Portage Islanders and Warren Mercs on their way to the final while the Maroons swept the Morden Redskins and then ended the Notre Dame Hawks reign as SEMHL champions.

"I think anytime you get to play for a championship you're excited, especially against a team like Altona," said Carman coach Brett Dow. "We expect to see the team that knocked off the #3 (Morden Redskins) and #1 (Notre Dame Hawks) teams in this league and they can't be taken lightly. We fully expect our guys to be ready for game one and take the first one in our barn."

The Maroons, who finished in sixth spot, started the season with five straight wins and then lost 11 in a row.  

The streak lasted just over two months.

"We knew how to play the right way and that's kind of how we were able to find ourselves," said Altona captain Craig Neufeld. Then playing that way all series against Notre Dame really solidifies that we do have a good team and if we do play the right way we can beat anyone as we showed beating the first place team in the league."

The big test for the Maroons will be finding a way to get enough pucks past one of the SEMHL's best goaltenders in Carman's Steve Christie.

"We need to get shots on net, we need to find a way to get traffic in front of the net and find a way to capitalize on opportunities," said Neufeld. "That's very easy to say at the time but obviously we'll try to find a way to get on a roll. Hopefully if Christie can't see the puck, he can't save it, but I think he's found a way to do that too so we'll have to find a way."

The Beavers won the SEMHL championship two years ago.

The last time the Maroons captured the league title was in the spring of 2013.

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Friday, March 23rd

Virden 3 Winkler 2 (OT)
Steinbach 3 Wpg Blues 1
(1st games in best of 7 semifinals)

Eastern Conference
Medicine Hat 7 Brandon 2
(1st game in best of 7 quarterfinal)

Winnipeg 3 Anaheim 2 (OT)
Montreal 3 Buffalo 0
New Jersey 4 Pittsburgh 3 (OT)
St. Louis 4 Vancouver 1
Boston 3 Dallas 2

Toronto 116 Brooklyn 112
Denver 108 Washington 100
Indiana 109 L.A. Clippers 104
Minnesota 108 New York 104
Cleveland 120 Phoenix 95
Oklahoma City 105 Miami 99
Milwaukee 118 Chicago 105
San Antonio 122 Utah 120 (OT)
Boston 105 Portland 100
Golden State 106 Atlanta 94

Saturday, March 24th

Pembina Valley vs Eastman
@ Morden, 7 p.m.
(best of 5 final tied 1-1)

Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League
Wpg Wild at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
(Wild lead best of 5 final 1-0)

Manitoba vs Stockton
@ Wpg, 7 p.m.

Vegas at Colorado, 2 p.m.
Calgary at San Jose, 3 p.m.
Buffalo at N.Y. Rangers, 6 p.m.
Arizona at Florida, 6 p.m.
Detroit at Toronto, 6 p.m.
Washington at Montreal, 6 p.m.
St. Louis at Columbus, 6 p.m.
Carolina at Ottawa, 6 p.m.
Chicago at N.Y. Islanders, 6 p.m.
Tampa Bay at New Jersey, 6 p.m.
Nashville at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Los Angeles at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

Minnesota at Philadelphia, 5 p.m.
Chicago at Detroit, 6 p.m.
Phoenix at Orlando, 6 p.m.
New Orleans at Houston, 7 p.m.
L.A. Lakers at Memphis, 7 p.m.
Charlotte at Dallas, 7:30 p.m.

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