The Humboldt Broncos have been galloping lately.
The Broncos have won six straight games and nine of their last 10. Entering this week, the Broncos sat second, as of Sunday, in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League standings with a 33-12-1-0 record.
The Broncos, lead-leading Battlefords North Stars, Flin Flon Bombers, La Ronge Ice Wolves and Melfort Mustangs have already clinched playoff spots. Three other teams will qualify for the SJHL postseason.
With a surge, the Mustangs were able to lock down their playoff berth. Melfort has not lost in regulation in its last five contests.
Humboldt Broncos (33-12-1-0)
The Broncos went 3-0 last week. On Feb. 14, Noah Barlage scored the winning goal in overtime to lift the visiting Humboldt team to a 5-4 victory over Notre Dame. The Hounds were rolling early and were up 3-0 by early in the second period. Broncos goalie Benjamin Motew stopped 13 of the 16 shots he faced. He was relieved by Jared Picklyk, who made 18 saves on 19 shots.
The Broncos outscored the Hounds 4-1 the rest of the second period to create a 4-4 tie. Scoring for Humboldt were Jacob Boucher, Cage Newans, Daylan Weigel, and Maddox Amaral. After a scoreless third period, Barlage delivered the game winner.
On Friday at home, the Broncos held on to beat the Estevan Bruins, 5-4. Spencer Bell scored twice in the first period to help Humboldt to a 2-1 lead. In the second session, Matthew Van Blaricom, Ethan Zielke and Bell (completing the hat trick) scored for Humboldt to go up 5-1 before Estevan got one back. The Bruins scored twice in the third period to pull to within one, 5-4, but they were unable to tie things up.
Bell’s goals were his seventh through ninth of the season. Picklyk made 40 saves.
The Broncos scored the game’s first four goals on Saturday en route to a 4-1 home win over Estevan. Scoring for Humboldt were Ben Kotylak, Timothy Kim, Van Blaricom, and Lucas Ceccarelli. Motew made 24 saves.
Melfort Mustangs (27-14-5-3)
On Feb. 15, the Mustangs beat the visiting Kindersley Klippers, 6-2. The teams were tied 1-1 after one. The Mustangs outscored the Klippers, 3-1, in the second thanks to goals by Zac Somers, Kevin Minnoch (his second of the night), and captain Ben Tkachuk. In the third, Somers and Riley Ashe lit the lamp. James Venne had 21 saves for Melfort.
The Melfort Mustangs got rolling in the second period on Friday in Melville on the way to a 7-1 win. Melfort led 1-0 after the first period. The Mustangs then scored three times in the second frame and as many in the third.
Somers and Clarke Huxley had two goals each for Melfort. Leyton Holoien, Tkachuk, and Minnoch also scored for the winners. For the Mustangs, Joel Favreau stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced.
The Mustangs fell 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday to Melville at home. Huxley, Dawson Leroux and Tkachuk scored for Melfort.
Battlefords North Stars (41-4-2-1)
In front of 1,367 in Flin Flon on Friday, the North Stars lost just their seventh game of the season. They were shut out 6-0 by the Bombers.
The North Stars bounced back to beat Flin Flon, 4-2. After a scoreless first period, Battleford scored three straight goals in the second and were up 2-1 at the second intermission. The teams traded goals in the third. Scoring for Battlefords were Jackson Allan (two), Bradley Blake, and Kian Bell. Battlefords’ Josh Kotai made 38 saves.
Nipawin Hawks (22-20-4-1)
In their lone game of the week, the Hawks fell 6-5 in overtime on Feb. 14 to the Kindersley Klippers. Alex Ochitwa scored two goals and recorded four points for Nipawin. Teammate Alex Johnson had a goal and four assists. Nipawin scored three third-period goals to force overtime and earn a point in the standings.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (29-17-3-2)
The Wolves fell 3-2 in Kindersley on Friday. Dawson Smith stopped 30 of 33 shots for La Ronge.
The Ice Wolves rebounded to win 6-2 in Kindersley on Saturday night. They scored four goals in the third period to break a 2-2 tie. Liam McInnis, Lleyton Shearon, Ethan Strik, Jacob Visentini, Dylan Handel, and Trenton Curtis had La Ronge’s goals. Topher Chirico made 29 saves.
Kindersley Klippers (11-28-2-5)
Nathan DeGraves scored at the 3:10 mark in overtime to give the Klippers a 6-5 victory on Feb. 15. Kindersley had led 5-2 early in the third period. Scoring in regulation for the Klippers were Tylin Hilbig (two), Logan Linklater, Danton Cox, and Cash Arntsen. Logan Falk made 20 saves.
Consistent scoring allowed the Klippers to beat the Ice Wolves in Kindersley on Friday. La Ronge got out to a 2-1 first period lead. Kindersley scored a goal in each period en route to a 3-2 win. Cameron Rimstad, Linklater, and Kayden Ostrom scored for the winners. Falk made 38 saves.
The Klippers fell 6-2 in Melfort on Feb. 13. The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period.
La Ronge beat Kindersley 6-2 on the rod Saturday. Kindersley led 2-1 after the first period.
Melville Millionaires (13-28-5-1)
Jaxon Martens’ OT marker gave Melville a 3-2 win over Estevan on Feb. 15. The host Bruins led 2-1 after one. Neither team scored in the second period. Carter McKay’s second goal of the night tied the contest and forced overtime. Etan Rau had 29 saves for Melville.
On Saturday, the Millionaires fought back to earn a 4-3 shootout victory against the Melfort Mustangs. Tuckey Buhay was the lone shooter out of a combined six to score in the shootout.
After the Mustangs took a 2-0 first period lead, the Millionaires fought back in the second with goals from Ethan Antsey and McKay. Melfort went up 3-2 in the third on a powerplay, but Melville’s Zach Bansley tied things up. Rau stopped 37 shots in regulation and overtime.
The Millionaires lost 7-1 at home on Friday against Melfort. McKay scored Melville’s lone goal.
Notre Dame Hounds (16-23-4-2)
The Hounds were unable to hold onto the 3-0 lead they had built up by early in the third period on Feb. 14 in Wilcox. They fell 5-4 in overtime to Humboldt. Antoine Saint-Onge scored twice for the Hounds.
On Friday, the Hounds led 1-0 after the first period in Weyburn thanks to an Evan Vanden Heuvel goal. The Red Wings scored three straight - once in the second and twice in third. Jacob Ligi scored for Notre Dame but the Hounds fell 3-2.