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SJHL Round-Up: Kindersley parts with coach, Estevan in playoffs

Assistant coach Tyler Traptow is leading the Kindersley Klippers bench for the rest of the season.
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Two members of the Humboldt Broncos have recently committed to play NCAA Division I hockey: Matthew Van Blaricom and Conner Miller.

A coaching change, college commitments and the battle for playoff berths were the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League headlines last week.

The Kindersley Klippers and head coach and general manager Ken Plaquin have agreed to part ways, it was announced last week. At the time of his departure, the team was last in the SJHL with an 11-29-2-5 record. Plaquin joined the team in March of 2020. Assistant coach Tyler Traptow is leading the bench for the rest of the season. The Klippers are advertising for a new head coach and general manager.

With a win over Yorkton on Saturday night, the Estevan Bruins clinched a spot for the SJHL playoffs. Now six of the league’s eight playoff spots have been decided. The following teams also have already locked up a postseason berth: Battlefords North Stars, Humboldt Broncos, Flin Flon Bombers, La Ronge Ice Wolves, and Melfort Mustangs.

Two members of the Humboldt Broncos have recently committed to play NCAA Division I hockey. Sixteen-year-old forward Matthew Van Blaricom has verbally committed to play at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich. He joined the Broncos in late November from the U18 AAA Tisdale Trojans. The Southey product has scored 10 goals and accumulated 21 points in 27 games.

Fellow 16-year-old Conner Miller has committed to the Augustana University. The Sioux Falls, S.D. school is moving up to the NCAA Division I level next season. Miller has a goal over four games with the Broncos this season. The Lipton, Sask. product has spent most of the season with the U18 AAA Moose Jaw Warriors. In 43 games, he has 25 goals and 56 points.


Battlefords North Stars (44-4-2-1)

After three home victories last week, the league-leading North Stars are on a four-game winning streak. The squad averaged 7.67 goals per game last week.

A five-goal second period helped Battlefords beat Yorkton 8-2 on Feb. 21. Kian Bell powered the North Stars with five goals and six points. Netminder Josh Kotai made 35 saves.

On Feb. 24 at home, Battlefords scored three goals in each period for a 9-2 win over the Melville Millionaires. Captain Jake Southgate netted a hattrick. Colby Bear had two goals. Justen Maric had 30 saves. Things got physical with Melville having 79 penalty minutes and Battlefords 63. There were three fights.

The North Stars capped the week with a four-goal third period to beat the visiting Notre Dame Hounds, 6-2. Displaying their offensive depth, six different Battlefords players scored. Southgate and Bell each had four points. Kotai stopped 29 shots.


Humboldt Broncos (35-13-1-0)

The Broncos were 2-1 last week. They and Flin Flon (34-13-2-1) are tied for second in the SJHL standings with 71 points – 20 behind Battlefords – as of Monday.

On Feb. 20, the Broncos beat Kindersley, 4-3. Humboldt scored once in the opening frame. Both teams scored three times in a six-goal second period. Four players scored for Humboldt. The Broncos outshout the Klippers, 43-35.

The Humboldt team was unable to fend off a Nipawin Hawks’ comeback on the road Feb. 24 and fell 4-3. Nipawin rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the second period.

The Broncos rebounded to win 4-2 against the Hawks at home on Saturday. After a 2-2 first period, Humboldt scored once in each of the last two periods. Lucas Ceccarelli scored twice for the Broncos. Jared Picklyk stopped 24 shots.


La Ronge Ice Wolves (30-18-3-2)

The fourth-place Ice Wolves split their weekend series with the Melfort Mustangs. On the road Friday, the La Ronge team triumphed 4-2. The Ice Wolves were up 2-1 after the first and 3-1 at the end of the second. Ethan Strik had two goals for La Ronge. Topher Chirico made 39 saves.

The Ice Wolves fell 4-3 at home on Saturday.


Melfort Mustangs (28-15-5-3)

On Feb. 24, the fifth-place Mustangs lost 4-2 at home to La Ronge. The Ice Wolves led 2-1 and 3-1 at the intermissions.

The Mustangs won 4-3 on the road on Saturday. It was a special teams battle. All of Melfort’s goals came with the man advantage as the team went four-for-nine. La Ronge was two-for-nine. Melfort led 2-1 and 3-2 at the intermissions. Ryan Duguay had the winning goal. Joel Favreau stopped 35 of the 38 shots he faced.


Nipawin Hawks (23-22-4-1)

The Nipawin Hawks enter the week sitting in seventh place. They are six points behind the sixth-place Estevan Bruins, who have clinched a playoff spot, and two ahead of the eight-place Weyburn Red Wings.

The Hawks fell 6-4 at home on Feb. 21 to the Flin Flon Bombers. Flin Flon led 1-0 and 4-2 at the intermissions. Carson Dobson scored twice for Nipawin.

At home on Feb. 24, the Nipawin Hawks trailed 2-1 heading into the final period. Alex Ochitwa scored twice, and Finley Radloff scored his third of the season to put Nipawin on top, 4-2. Humboldt got one goal back, but the Hawks won, 4-3. Goalie Jackson Fellner had 36 saves in the victory.

The Hawks and Broncos were tied at 2-2 after the first period on Saturday. Humboldt scored one goal each in the second and third to win 4-2.


Notre Dame Hounds (17-25-4-2)

The Hounds start the week in ninth place – nine points back of eighth-place Weyburn. The Hounds got a good victory against the Red Wings last week.

On Feb. 20 in Wilcox, the Weyburn Red Wings tied things up at 3-3 early in the second period. The Notre Dame Hounds scored three straight goals. That helped them triumph 6-4. Jacob Ligi scored twice and had three points. Carson Bayls had three assists for the Hounds. Notre Dame goalie Tucket Inabinet made 36 saves.

The Hounds lost 6-3 on the road to Kindersley on Feb. 24. The next night, in North Battleford, the North Stars downed the Hounds, 6-2.


Kindersley Klippers (13-30-2-5)

With two wins under interim head coach Traptow, the Klippers moved out of the SJHL basement last week. As of Monday, the team sat in 11th and was one point ahead of Melville.

On Feb. 20, the Klippers fell 4-3 to Humboldt. They trailed 1-0 after the first. Kindersley scored three times in the second – the same as the Broncos – but were unable to tie things up.

The Yorkton Terriers scored three third period goals to beat Kindersley, 5-4, on Feb. 22. Kindersley led 2-1 after the first period and 3-2 after the second. The Klippers outshot the Terriers, 41-27.

At home on Feb. 24, the Klippers came out strong against the Notre Dame Hounds. Kindersley led 3-0 and 5-0 at the intermissions on the way to a 6-2 win. Logan Linklater and Matthew Mazzocchi each had two goals. Logan Falk turned away 23 shots.

The Klippers made it two straight on Feb. 25 with a 4-2 home victory over Melville. Kindersley scored once in the first and once in the second. Both teams lit the lamp twice in the third. Mazzocchi scored a hattrick. Falk made 26 saves.


Melville Millionaires (13-31-5-1)

Melville was 0-3 last week. The team lost 7-1 at home to Estevan on Feb. 22. On Feb. 24, the North Stars beat Melville, 9-2.

The Millionaires were not able to score until the third period on Feb. 25 and lost 4-2 to Kindersley on the road. Ethan Rau made 40 saves for Melville.