The Melfort Mustangs are getting important offensive contributions from their experienced blue line.
As of Sunday, the Mustangs (7-8-4-0) boasted three of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s top scoring defencemen. Leyton Holoien, 20, was first on the Melfort squad overall and seventh in the league in blue line scoring. He has 14 points, including three goals, in 18 games. Nineteen-year-old Leith Olafson sat ninth in the SJHL in defenceman points. His 13 points with four goals in 19 contests already almost surpassed the 15 points he posted in 46 games last season. With 11 points in 14 games, twenty-year-old Hayden Tuba was 14th in league defenceman scoring.
“We got a veteran group, but also guys that are capable of chipping in offensively,” Melfort head coach Trevor Blevins said earlier this season. “I think it gives you a whole new dynamic when you can bring offence from your defence. ... We want them to be. They’re flourishing with it.”
Twenty-year-old Kevin Minnoch and 19-year-old Cam Emigh also are contributing veterans, while newcomers – all in their 18-year-old seasons – Aiden Wildeman, Ty Thornton and Brett Ward are also playing roles.
Last week the Melfort squad fell 2-1 at home to Flin Flon. The Bombers led 1-0 at the intermissions and held a 2-0 lead after nine minutes of play in the third. Jacob Huffy scored for the Mustangs. James Venne made 24 saves for Melfort as the team outshot Flin Flon 34-24.
The Mustangs are in Estevan for Friday and Saturday games against the Bruins.
Former SJHL player Tanner Vandesype has passed away at the age of 34. The defenceman was a Notre Dame student-athlete and went on to play for the Junior A Hounds. He wrapped up his junior career with a season and a half in Humboldt. The Radville product played on various senior teams.
Humboldt Broncos (13-6-0-0)
After three losses last week, the Broncos are in a tie with the Flin Flon Bombers for second in the SJHL standings. Both teams have 26 points in the standings with the Bombers having a 12-3-1-1 record. Battlefords tops the SJHL table with 36 points and a 17-0-1-1 record.
The Estevan Bruins shut out the Broncos twice last week. The Broncos lost 6-0 in Estevan on Thursday. The Bruins’ Logan Ziegler had two goals. Cam Hrdlicka stopped 31 shots to earn his second shutout of the season. Tristan Bolieau started for Humboldt and had 13 saves on 17 shots. Benjamin Motew had 15 saves on 17 shots in relief.
Then on Saturday, at Affinity Place, Estevan won 5-0. Five different Bruins scored. Hrdlicka made 36 saves. Boileau, the starter, made 12 saves on 16 shots while Motew stopped three of the four shots he faced.
The host Weyburn Red Wings beat the visiting Broncos 5-4 on Friday. Weyburn led 2-0 and 4-2 at the intermissions. Benjamin Motew made 29 saves. Scoring for Humboldt were Jacob Boucher, Connor Miller, Carsten Kayter, and Ethan Zielke.
This week the Broncos host the Notre Dame Hounds on Wednesday.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (10-7-1-0)
The Ice Wolves are 7-3-0-0 in their last 10 games. Last Friday the squad fell 5-1 to the Nipawin Hawks on the road. Ryley Morgan had La Ronge’s goal. Dawson Smith stopped 37 shots for La Ronge.
La Ronge opens a six-game homestand on Tuesday. The Kindersley Klippers are in town Tuesday and Wednesday. The league-leading Battlefords North Stars visit on Friday and the Yorkton Terriers are at the Mel Hegland Uniplex on Saturday.
Last week the Ice Wolves traded Bryden Bell to the Kam River Fighting Walleye of the Superior International Junior Hockey League for a player development fee. The forward had four assists in eight games this season.
Kindersley Klippers (4-7-0-3)
The Klippers were not in action last week. The team is in La Ronge on Wednesday and Tuesday. On Friday, the Klippers visit Nipawin.
Nipawin Hawks (7-9-1-1)
The Nipawin squad is on a two-game winning streak. The Hawks scored three first period goals last Friday en roure to a 5-1 win over the visiting La Ronge Ice Wolves. Maguire Ratzlaff and Alex Ochitwa each had two goals. Zander Stewart had the team’s other goal. Nipawin netminder Jackson Fellner stopped 33 of the 34 shots he faced. Braxton Buckberger recorded three assists.
The Nipawin team’s road game against Melville on Saturday was postponed due to weather. The Hawks host the Kindersley Klippers on Friday. The Battlefords North Stars visit Saturday.
The Hawks swapped goalie Nolan McDowell to the Renfrew Wolves of the Central Canada Hockey League for a PDF. He was 3-4-0-1 this season with a 4.37 goals against average. The move comes a week after the Hawks obtained the rights of netminder Jackson Fellner from the Melfort Mustangs. After playing a game for the ‘Stangs, Fellner had been with the Junior B Regina Capitals.
Battlefords North Stars (17-0-0-1)
The North Stars are still undefeated in regulation. The squad added two more wins to its record last week. Battlefords’ Sunday contest against Notre Dame was postponed due to poor weather.
Battlefords used a 3-1 first period lead to help itself to a 7-4 victory in Estevan on Friday. Seven different players scored for the North Stars: Tynan Ewart, Jordan Gibbs, Jackson Allan, Wilson Steele, Holden Doell, Jake Southgate, and Kian Bell. In net, Josh Kotai fended off 35 of the 39 shots he saw. Southgate, the team’s captain, had four points on the night.
The North Stars used two second period powerplays to get themselves past the Weyburn Red Wings, 4-3. Battlefords led 2-1 after the first period, but a powerplay goal and an even strength marker put the Red Wings on top, 3-2, with less than 10 minutes gone in the second. With the man advantage, Bell and Ewart scored for the North Stars. The Battlefords squad was able to hold on the rest of the way. Koria finished with 28 saves, while Boston Gelowitz made 26 for Weyburn.
The North Stars head to La Ronge on Friday and Nipawin on Saturday
Notre Dame Hounds (7-9-1-1)
Last Wednesday, the Hounds used four second period goals to get by Melville, 5-3. The visiting Millionaires had led 1-0 after the first period and went up 2-1 in the second. Antoine Saint-Onge, Cyprus Smith-Davis, Sam Kroon and Will Dawson all scored in the second session to put Notre Dame up 4-2. Two goals came on the powerplay. Each team scored in the third with Will Dawson doing the honours for the Hounds. Tucker Inabinet made 18 saves for Notre Dame. The Hounds sent 41 shots at the Melville net.
The Hounds fell 4-2 at home last Friday to Yorkton with the Terriers scoring two third period goals to break a 2-2 tie. The last goal was an empty net marker. Samuel Borschowa and Kyle Kalamaras scored for Notre Dame. Inabinet made 31 saves.
Notre Dame’s Sunday game against Battlefords was postponed due to poor weather. The Hounds play the Broncos on Wednesday. The squad visits Melville on Friday.
Melville Millionaires (6-11-1-1)
The Millionaires fell 5-3 to Notre Dame in Wilcox on Wednesday. Melville led 1-0 at the first intermission and went up 2-0 in the second period before the Hounds scored four time before the second intermission. The squad’s game on Saturday against Nipawin was postponed due to weather.
This week the Millionaires visit Estevan on Wednesday. They return home to host the Hounds on Friday.