Four Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League players are competing for the chance to represent their country at the 2022 World Junior A Challenge.
Among the 31 players named to the Team Canada West selection camp were Holden Doell of the Battlefords North Stars, the Melfort Mustangs’ Zac Somers, Jeremi Tremblay of the Flin Flon Bombers, and the Humboldt Broncos’ Ethan Zielke.
“It’s a huge honour to be invited to try out for the team so I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Zielke said. “Playing against some high-level players is a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to competing.”
One member of the SJHL who is guaranteed to be at the World Junior A Challenge, which runs Dec. 11-18 in Cornwall, Ont., is Brayden Klimosko. The North Stars’ head coach will serve as an assistant coach for Team Canada West.
The 2022 World Junior A Challenge features Team Canada East and Team Canada West as well as squads representing Latvia, Sweden and the United States. Team Canada West has won the tournament five times, including most recently 2017.
Roster Cutdown Deals
On Dec. 1, Junior A teams had to cut down to 25 players. Several teams made deals that day or in the days leading up to the deadline. These included: The Notre Dame Hounds added 2004-born defenceman Isaiah Peters from the Drumheller Dragons (AJHL) for a player development fee. He suited up in one game for the Coquitlam Express (BCHL) and had four points in 14 games for the Dragons. The Melville Millionaires acquired Samuel Schofield from the Bonnyville Pontiacs (AJHL) in exchange for the rights of Kyle Bochek and a player development fee. Schofield, a 2002-born forward, had six goals and 10 points in 21 games for Bonnyville. Bochek has been playing for the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants this season. The La Ronge Ice Wolves received Jacob Cossette from the Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) for a player development fee. The 2004-born forward scored four goals and collected 11 points in 22 games for the Saints.
The Kindersley Klippers sent Joshua Pufahl to the Kam River Fighting Walleye (SIJHL) for a player development fee. A 2002-born defenceman, Pufahl had three points in 22 games for Kindersley. The Nipawin Hawks got 2004-born goalie Lowen Kenyon from the Battlefords North Stars for a player development fee. He had only played one game for the North Stars this season after posting a 7-3-0-1 record with the club last year. McLaren Paulsen, a 2004-born forward, was swapped from his hometown Humboldt Broncos, to the Dryden Ice Dogs (SIJHL) for a player development fee. He recorded an assist in 16 games this season with Humboldt.
The Kindersley Klippers traded 2002-born defenceman Joshua Morton to the Kam River Fighting Walleye (SIJHL) for a player development fee. He recorded five points in 18 games for Kindersley.
The Notre Dame Hounds sent Mathieu Fehr to the Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) for a player development fee. The 2004-born forward recorded 10 points over 24 games for the Hounds.
The Nipawin Hawks added 2002-born Jovan Malay from the Dauphin Kings (MJHL) for a player development fee. He tallied 15 points in 26 MJHL games this season. The La Ronge Ice Wolves traded Ryley Morgan and a sixth-round SJHL draft pick in 2024 to the Weyburn Red Wings for their third and fourth round picks in the 2023 SJHL draft, a player development fee, and the playing rights to Carter Briitz and Luke Bateman. The 2002-born Morgan had scored nine goals and put up 24 points in 22 games for the Ice Wolves this season. A 2004-born forward, Briltz is with the WHL’s Victoria Royals. Bateman is a 2002-born defenceman with the Regina Pats of the WHL.
The Notre Dame Hounds picked up Matteo Speranza from the Weyburn Red Wings for the rights to Riley Niven. A 2004-born forward, Speranza collected two points in nine games for Weyburn. Niven is a 2003-born forward with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
The Melfort Mustangs sent Brett Ward to the OCN Blizzard (MJHL) for a player development fee. The 2003-born defenceman had three points in 17 games for the ‘Stangs. The Kindersley Klippers acquired Wyatt Cook from the Flin Flon Bombers for a player development fee and a fourth-round pick in the 2023 SJHL Draft. A 2003-born forward, Cook started the season with Bonnyville (AJHL) before heading to Flin Flon, where he recorded five goals and six points in 16 games.
Battlefords North Stars (22-0-2-1)
Still undefeated in regulation, the Battlefords North Stars are the No. 1 ranked Junior A team in the country.
On Saturday, the North Stars beat Melfort, 5-4, in a shootout. Tynan Ewart had the lone goal in the shootout to lift the visitors to the victory.
Battlefords grabbed a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Zane Florence and Steven Kesslering. The Mustangs battled back with Ben Tkachuk and Hayden Tuba scoring. The squads then traded goals: Battlefords’ Jordan Gibbs, Melfort’s Zac Somers, the North Star’s Kian Bell, and the Mustangs’ Tkachuk. Neither team scored in the third. Battlefords goalie Josh Kotai made 30 saves, while Joel Favreau had 32 for Melfort.
At home on Friday, the North Stars dropped the Notre Dame Hounds, 6-1. After a scoreless first period, the Battlefords team outscored the Hounds 3-1 in the second session and 3-0 in the third. Doell scored twice for North Stars, while Ewart, Bradley Blake, Kesslering, and Bell all scored once. Battlefords goalie Justen Maric stopped all but one of the 35 shots he faced.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (19-8-1-0)
The Ice Wolves headed south last week to play four games in five days. In the opening game of what became a 3-1 road trip, Ethan Strik scored the game winning goal in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Notre Dame Hounds on Nov. 29. After Notre Dame took a 3-2 first period lead, Walker Jerome scored knotted the contest at 3-3 in the second. Dawson Smith stopped 43 shots in helping the Ice Wolves to victory. The Ice Wolves were shut out 4-0 the next night in Estevan.
The Ice Wolves got past Weyburn 5-3 on Friday. Weyburn led 1-0 at the first intermission, but La Ronge was up 3-2 at the second. Smith had 16 saves for La Ronge as the Ice Wolves outshot the hosts 37-19. Scoring for La Ronge were Dylan Handel, Strik, Dallyn Peekeekoot, Walker Jerome, and Thomas Wright.
On Saturday, Handel scored twice in the second period to lift Ice Wolves to a 3-2 victory over the Estevan Bruins. After Estevan opened the scoring in the first period, Mason Bueckert tied the game up before the first intermission. Smith made 29 saves.
Humboldt Broncos (17-7-1-0)
In their lone game of the week last Saturday, the Broncos beat Weyburn, 7-6, on the road.
In a high-scoring affair, the two teams combined for seven goals in the second period. Weyburn led 2-1 after the first period. The game was knotted at 5-5 at the second intermission. Humboldt outscored Weyburn, 2-1, in the third to grab the win.
Timothy Kim had two goals for the Broncos. Also scoring for Humboldt were Connor Caparie, Jacob Boucher, Ethan Zielke, and Alec Saretzky, and Matthew Van Blaricom. Hayden Dunford had 16 saves for the Broncos.
Melfort Mustangs (13-8-5-1)
The Melfort Mustangs continue to earn points in the standings. The team has not lost in regulation in its last eight games – going 6-0-1-1.
James Venne made 28 saves as he and the Mustangs shut out the visiting Terriers 7-0 on Friday. It was his first shutout of the season. Somers and David Rioux each had two goals for Melfort. Also scoring for the team were Ben Tkachuk, Dawson Leroux, and Kevin Minnoch.
On Saturday, the Mustangs showed no quit against the top-ranked team in the country. They fought back from a 2-0 deficit against Battlefords to tie the game at 2-2 and then traded goals to cause a 4-4 score at the end of regulation. The Mustangs were unable to score in the shootout and fell 5-4.
Nipawin Hawks (12-12-1-1)
The Hawks beat the Melville Millionaires twice last week. Including a contest the week before, Nipawin has beaten Melville in three consecutive contests.
On Nov. 30, the host Nipawin team used a strong start to beat the Mils, 5-3. The Hawks built a 2-0 first period lead and extended it to 3-0 less than a minute into the second frame. Melville responded with two goals to cut Nipawin’s lead to one, 3-2, at the second intermission. Melville tied the game early in the third, but Alex Johnson scored on the powerplay and Joel Mabin added a goal to lift the Hawks to the win. Chase Visser, Carson Dobson (on the powerplay) and Zander Stewart all scored during Nipawin’s strong start.
Four different players scored for the Hawks as Nipawin beat Melville, 4-2, on Sunday. After a scoreless first period, Nipawin led 2-1 at the second intermission. Nipawin killed off all seven of Melville’s powerplays. The Hawks were one-for-six on the powerplay. Scoring for Nipawin were Alex Ochitwa, Francois-Xavier Bedard, Braxton Buckberger, and Carson Dobson. Jackson Fellner stopped 28 shots for the Hawks.
Kindersley Klippers (6-13-2-4)
Ethan Scriven was the lone player out of 14 to score in the shootout on Saturday. His goal lifted the host Kindersley Klippers to a 2-1 win over Notre Dame. In the second period, Kyler Smith for the Klippers and Notre Dame’s Evan Vanden Heuvel scored. Klippers goalie Cody Jaman stopped 42 of the 43 shots sent his way.
Melville Millionaires (8-17-2-1)
The Millionaires fell 5-3 in Nipawin on Nov. 30. The Mils found themselves trailing 3-0 early in the second period but fought back to tie the contest at 3-3 with just over three minutes played in the third period. The comeback included a successful Nathan Fox penalty shot.
The Millionaires lost 5-2 to the visiting Flin Flon Bombers last Friday. Flin Flon led 2-0 after the first period. Melville scored twice in the second but so did the Bombers to hold a 4-2 lead at the second intermission. Clement Labillois had 36 saves for Melville. For the Millionaires, Ethan Anstey scored twice and Sam Schofield and Cooper Chisholm each had two assists.
The Millionaires fell 4-2 to Nipawin on Sunday. Fox and Aiden Robson scored for Melville.
Notre Dame Hounds (10-12-2-2)
The Hounds fell Nov. 29 in overtime at home to La Ronge, 4-3. The Hounds led 3-2 after the first period powered by two goals by Carson Baylis and one by Will Dawson. The Ice Wolves tied it the game in the second period and won it in OT.
The Hounds fell 6-1 to North Stars last Friday. Davis Sato had Notre Dame’s lone goal. Johann Tremblay-Kau made 47 saves on 53 shots.
The Hounds lost 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday. Tucker Inabinet made 28 saves