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SJHL Round-Up: Melfort Mustangs pushing for second place

The Battlefords North Stars continue to lead the SJHL standings.
Yorkton Terriers vs Melfort Mustangs G2 2021-22
The Melfort Mustangs, having not lost in regulation in their last five contests, are aiming to overtake the La Ronge Ice Wolves for second place in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League standings.

The Melfort Mustangs have not lost in regulation in their last five contests.

Last week the Mustangs won all three of their games. As of Monday, the team had a 23-12-5-2 record and were fifth in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League standings. The Mustangs are five points behind the second place La Ronge Ice Wolves.

“The last five have been really fun as we’ve started to get back to how we can play,” said James Venne, who combines with Joel Favreau to form a formidable goaltending tandem for the Mustangs. “However, with how close the pack is all we are focused on us pushing for that second place.”

This week the 60 SJHL players will be competing in the SJHL/MJHL Showcase in Winnipeg. The event runs Jan. 31-Feb. 1 with players getting to compete against MJHL foes in front of scouts from various higher levels of hockey.

In the third period on Jan. 24, the Mustangs led 5-2 and held on for 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 into overtime to give the Mustangs a 4-3 victory over host Weyburn on Jan. 27. Weyburn had led 2-1 at the second intermission. Third period goals by Leith Olfason and Leroux put the ‘Stangs up 3-3, but Jackson Hassman scored in the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime. Aidan Wildeman scored his second of the season for Melfort in the first period. Venne finished with 27 saves.

The Mustangs wrapped up their successful week with a 4-1 romp over the Humboldt Broncos. The host Mustangs got out to a 3-0 first period lead. Venne stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced. Huxley scored twice and had three points on the night. Tkachuk and Somers also scored for Melfort.


Battlefords North Stars (37-3-2-1)

The North Stars are rolling again. After a stretch where it lost three of its four games, the team won three straight last week. The North Stars continue to lead the SJHL standings.

In front of 1,272 who came out for a weeknight game in North Battleford, the North Stars earned a 9-3 victory over La Ronge. Battlefords led 6-1 after the first period. The North Stars were three-for-seven on the powerplay with La Ronge going three-for-10.

Bradley Blake, Alex Izyk and Kian Bell all had two goals each for Battlefords. Also scoring for the victors were Tanner Gold, Jake Southgate and Keiton Klein. Battlefords goalie Josh Kotai made 33 saves.

After leading 3-1 in the first period on Friday, the North Stars prevailed 4-2 over the host Yorkton Terriers. 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 and 2-1 at the intermissions in Melville on Saturday. They scored four times in the third to win 6-2. Holden Doell and Steven Kesslering each had two goals. Klein and Bell had one each. Battlefords goaltender Justen Maric made 29 saves.


La Ronge Ice Wolves (27-14-3-1)

The Ice Wolves sat second in the SJHL after going 2-1-0-0 last week. On the road, the team fell 9-3 to the North Stars on Jan. 24.

On Friday, the Ice Wolves were able to beat the visiting Nipawin Hawks, 3-2, in overtime. Dylan Handel delivered victory with a goal just 49 second into overtime. The Hawks had led 2-1 at the intermissions. In the third, Kyle Graham’s second of the season sent the game to overtime. La Ronge goalie Topher Chirico stopped 44 of the 46 shots he faced.

On the road on Saturday, the Ice Wolves used a three-goal second period to beat Nipawin, 6-3. That offensive outburst changed the game from being a 2-2 tie to 5-2 in La Ronge’s favour. Scoring for La Ronge were Mason Bueckert with a hat trick and Parker Layton, Rylan Silzer, and Jacob Cossette with singles. Chirico turned away 44 shots.


Humboldt Broncos (27-12-1-0)

The Broncos were third in the SJHL standings after splitting its two games last week. In Melville on Friday, the Humboldt team triumphed 6-3. The Broncos led 2-1 and 6-2 at the intermissions. Scoring for Humboldt were Connor Casparie, Xavier Roy, Maddox Amaral, Carsten Kayter, Timothy Kim, and Cage Newans. Broncos goalie Jared Picklyk had 22 saves.

On Saturday, Humboldt fell 4-1 on the road to Melfort. The Broncos are 7-3-0-0 in their last 10.


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 period at home on Jan. 24 to beat the Yorkton Terriers, 5-2. Braxton Buckberger led Nipawin with 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 on Friday in La Ronge and 6-3 in Nipawin on Saturday. Nipawin is 7-2-1-0 in its last 10 outings.


Notre Dame Hounds (14-19-3-2)

The Hounds had bite on Friday when they beat the Kindersley Klippers, 5-1, in Wilcox. This was after a 6-1 Klippers victory on Jan. 25 at the Duncan McNeill Arena.

On Friday, the game was scoreless after the first period. The Hounds scored twice in the second session and outscored the Klippers 3-1 in third. Notre Dame was one-for-three on the power play, while Kindersley was zero-for-seven.

Carson Baylis led the Hounds with a hattrick. Will Dawson and Jacob Ligi chipped in with goals. Notre Dame goalie Johann Tremblay-Kau stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced.


Kindersley Klippers (8-24-2-5)

After a Jan. 25 contest was tied 1-1 just past the halfway point of the first period, the Klippers scored four straight goals to hold a 5-1 lead at the second intermission on their way to a 6-2 victory over the host Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox. Logan Linklater and Tylin Hilbig both lit the lamp twice for the Klippers. Jaydon Jessiman and Matthew Mazzocchi also had goals for the winners. Kindersley goalie Logan Falk stopped 39 shots.

On Jan. 25, the host Weyburn Red Wings beat Kindersley, 6-4. On Friday in Wilcox, the Hounds rebounded to win 5-1. In Weyburn on Saturday, the Red Wings won 7-1.


Melville Millionaires (10-25-5-10)

Facing two of the SJHL’s top three teams last week, the Millionaires went 0-2. The team fell 6-3 on Friday at home to the Humboldt Broncos. The next night they lost 6-2 in Melville to the Battlefords North Stars.