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Saskatchewan hockey in February means it is now playoff time

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Around these parts, you gotta get in your skating while the skating is good. Best months are usually November, December, January and February, which is why most senior hockey leagues here wrap up their regular schedules by the end of January, then go right into the playoffs. Why? Because most small towns in this area boast rinks that sport nothing but natural ice. Weather's gotta be cold enough to freeze the water and keep it frozen until the season is done.

Case in point: The Saskatchewan Prairie Hockey League. The loop was started in 2010 by a group of teams dedicated to providing "quality hockey in small town Saskatchewan."

Teams involved this season include the Radisson Wheat Kings, Battleford Beaver Blues, Hafford Mustangs, Maymont Settlers, Glaslyn North Stars, Spiritwood Timber Wolves, Shellbrook Silvertips, Cut Knife Colts, Meota Combines and the Perdue Pirates. There could be one or two artificial ice rinks in the loop, but that would be about it.

After the final weekend of the regular season, the Cut Knife Colts finished in first place.

The playoffs see Cut Knife taking on Glaslyn, Maymont playing Radisson, Shellbrook tangling with Meota and Battleford going at it with SpiritWood. All opening round series are best of 5 affairs.

The Battleford Beaver Blues won the league championship last season. As for the Hafford Mustangs and the Perdue Pirates, it is "wait until next year."

Also on tap is the 2014 induction dinner for the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame, to be held at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert. Among those going into The Hall include Saskatchewan-born NHLers such as Brad McCrimmon, Brian Propp and Jim Neilson.

Small town Saskatchewan hockey might not make the winters fly by, but it certainly makes them much more entertaining.

(see video for a look at pond hockey)

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