SJHL Round-Up: Melfort Mustangs pushing for second place
The Battlefords North Stars continue to lead the SJHL standings.
The Melfort Mustangs have not lost regulation in their last five competitions.
The Mustangs won all three of their games last week. On Monday, the team had a record of 23-12-5-2 and was fifth in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League standings. The Mustangs are five points behind second-placed La Ronge Ice Wolves.
“The last five have been really fun as we’ve started to play how we can play again,” said James Venne, who forms a formidable goaltender tandem for the Mustangs with Joel Favreau. “However, we’re focusing on how tight the field is to push for second place.”
This week, the 60 SJHL players compete at the SJHL/MJHL Showcase in Winnipeg. The event runs from January 31st to February 31st. 1 featuring players competing against MJHL enemies in front of scouts from various higher hockey levels.
In the third period on Jan. 24, the Mustangs led 5-2 and held on to a 5-4 win. Captain Ben Tkachuk scored twice for Melfort. Mustangs Clarke Huxley, Dawson Leroux and Zac Somers also lit the lamp. Venne had 33 saves.
Riley Ashe scored 1:23 in overtime to give the Mustangs a 4-3 win over host Weyburn on Jan. 27. Weyburn had led 2-1 at the second break. Goals in the third period from Leith Olfason and Leroux gave the ‘Stangs a 3-3 lead, but Jackson Hassman struck in the last two minutes of regular time to force extra time. Aidan Wildeman scored his second goal of the season for Melfort in the first half. Venne finished with 27 saves.
The Mustangs ended their successful week with a 4-1 win over the Humboldt Broncos. The host Mustangs took a 3-0 lead in the first half. Venne stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced. Huxley scored twice and had three points that night. Tkachuk and Somers also scored for Melfort.
Battleford’s North Stars (37-3-2-1)
The North Stars are rolling again. After a stretch in which they lost three of their four games, the team won three straight games last week. The North Stars continue to lead the SJHL standings.
In front of 1,272 players starting a midweek game at North Battleford, the North Stars clinched a 9-3 win over La Ronge. Battlefords led 6-1 after the first period. The North Stars were three-for-seven on the power play while La Ronge won three-for-ten.
Bradley Blake, Alex Izyk and Kian Bell each scored two goals for Battlefords. Also scoring for the winners were Tanner Gold, Jake Southgate and Keiton Klein. Battleford goalie Josh Kotai made 33 saves.
After leading 3-1 in the first period on Friday, the North Stars defeated host Yorkton Terriers 4-2. Bell led the North Stars with two goals. Emmett Wurst and Blake also lit the lamp. Kotai stopped 35 shots.
The North Stars led 1-0, 2-1 at halftime in Melville on Saturday. In the third they met four times to win 6-2. Holden Doell and Steven Kesslering each had two goals. Klein and Bell each had one. Battleford goaltender Justen Maric made 29 saves.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (27-14-3-1)
The Ice Wolves finished second in the SJHL after going 2-1-0-0 last week. On the road, the team lost 9-3 to the North Stars on January 24.
On Friday, the Ice Wolves beat visiting Nipawin Hawks 3-2 in overtime. Dylan Handel delivered the win by a goal just 49 seconds after overtime. The Hawks led 2-1 during the breaks. In the third, Kyle Graham’s runner-up of the season sent the game into overtime. La Ronge goalkeeper Topher Chirico stopped 44 of the 46 shots he faced.
On the road, the Ice Wolves used a three-goal second half to beat Nipawin 6-3 on Saturday. This offensive outburst changed the game from a 2-2 draw to a 5-2 in La Ronge’s favour. For La Ronge, Mason Bueckert scored with a hat-trick and Parker Layton, Rylan Silzer and Jacob Cossette with singles. Chirico saved 44 shots.
Humboldt Broncos (27-12-1-0)
The Broncos were third in SJHL standings after splitting their two games last week. The Humboldt team won 6:3 in Melville on Friday. The Broncos led 2-1 and 6-2 at the breaks. Connor Casparie, Xavier Roy, Maddox Amaral, Carsten Kayter, Timothy Kim and Cage Newans scored for Humboldt. Broncos goalie Jared Picklyk made 22 saves.
Humboldt lost 4-1 on the way to Melfort on Saturday. The Broncos are in the bottom 10 7-3-0-0.
Nipawin Hawks (21-18-2-1)
After extending their winning streak to six games, the Hawks fell twice to the La Ronge Ice Wolves. The Hawks used a three-goal second half at home on Jan. 24 to beat the Yorkton Terriers 5-2. Braxton Buckberger led Nipawin by two goals. Alex Johnson, Francois-Xavier Bedard and Eric Robbie also had goals for the Hawks. Netminder Jackson Fellner made 26 saves.
The Hawks lost 3-2 in overtime at La Ronge on Friday and 6-3 at Nipawin on Saturday. Nipawin is 7-2-1-0 in his last 10 games.
Notre Dame Hounds (14-19-3-2)
The Hounds bit on Friday when they defeated the Kindersley Klippers 5-1 in Wilcox. This came after a 6-1 win for the Klippers on January 25 at the Duncan McNeill Arena.
On Friday the game was goalless after the first period. The Hounds scored twice in the second session and edged the Klippers 3-1 in third place. Notre Dame was one for three on the power play while Kindersley was zero for seven.
Carson Baylis led the Hounds with a hat trick. Will Dawson and Jacob Ligi contributed goals. Notre Dame goalie Johann Tremblay-Kau stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced.
Kindersley Clipper (8-24-2-5)
After a 1-1 draw just after halftime in the first period on 25 January, the Klippers scored four goals in a row to take a 5-1 lead at the second break en route to a 6-2 win over the hosts to go to Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox. Logan Linklater and Tylin Hilbig both lit the clipper lamp twice. Jaydon Jessiman and Matthew Mazzocchi also had goals for the winners. Kindersley goalie Logan Falk stopped 39 shots.
On January 25, host Weyburn defeated Red Wings Kindersley 6-4. On Friday in Wilcox, the Hounds recovered and won 5-1. The Red Wings won 7-1 in Weyburn on Saturday.
Melville Millionaires (10-25-5-10)
Last week, the Millionaires faced two of the top three teams in the SJHL and went down 2-0. The team lost 6-3 at home to the Humboldt Broncos on Friday. The next night they lost 6-2 to the Battlefords North Stars in Melville.