There was plenty of news in the last week of Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League play for 2022.
On the SJHL ice, the Battlefords North Stars continue to win. The team reached the Christmas break with a league-best 28-0-2-1. They have yet to lose in regulation. Their 59 points in the standings are 14 ahead of second-place La Ronge (45). The SJHL Christmas break ends when the Flin Flon Bombers visit the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Jan. 3.
Ethan Zielke of the Humboldt Broncos and Zac Somers of the Melfort Mustangs helped Team Canada West to fourth place at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Cornwall, Ont. North Stars Brayden Klimosko served as an assistant coach for Canada West. The squad grabbed the top seed for the playoffs after a 3-1 round robin record. Canada West lost 4-1 to Canada East in the semifinals. In the bronze medal game, Sweden beat Canada West, 3-2, in a shootout. In the gold medal game, the United States beat Canada East, 5-2.
It was revealed last week that the SJHL would not be moving to a full facemask on Dec. 15 as originally reported. Hockey Canada had announced a move to the “cage” earlier this year. Discussions about whether the league will move away from the visor continue.
Battlefords North Stars (28-0-2-1)
The North Stars were successful on the road last week. They started a three games in as many nights road trip by scoring six goals in the third period to come from behind to beat the Yorkton Terriers, 9-6. After a 1-1 first period, Yorkton held a 4-3 lead at the second intermission. The North Stars scored three of their six third period goals on the power play. Yorkton tried to come back by scoring one on the power play and another shorthanded.
Kian Bell had a hat trick for Battlefords. Six other North Stars also lit the lamp. Keiton Klein recorded three assists.
Zane Florence scored the winning goal in overtime on Friday as the North Stars beat the Melville Millioanires, 3-2. Melville led 1-0 and 2-0 at the intermissions. Battlefords battled back in the third by goals by Holden Doell and captain Jake Southgate, on a power play. Goalie Josh Kotai made 38 saves in the win.
On Saturday, the North Stars came back from a 3-2 second period deficit to beat the Yorkton Terriers, 5-3. Colby Bear tied the contest, while Southgate put the North Stars up 4-3 before the second intermission. Doell added an empty net goal in the third.
In the first period, Owen Underhill and Southgate had goals for the North Stars, who led 2-1. The Terriers scored two straight goals in the second period to take a 3-2 lead. Kotai had 31 saves.
The North Stars’ first game after the break is on Jan. 4 when they host the Ice Wolves.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (21-10-2-1)
A three-goal first period helped the Ice Wolves beat the Nipawin Hawks, 4-1, on the road on Dec. 13. Ethan Strik lit the lamp twice for La Ronge. Goalie Dawson Smith made 30 saves.
The next night the Ice Wolves downed the host Humboldt Broncos, 3-1, on Dec. 14. La Ronge scored twice in the third period to earn the win. Trenton Curtis scored the game winner. Jacob Cossette added an empty net marker. Smith made 32 saves.
The Flin Flon Bombers scored four goals in the second period to hand the visiting Ice Wolves a 5-1 loss on Friday. The teams had been tied 1-1 after the first period.
La Ronge fell 3-2 in a shootout at home on Saturday. Dylan Handel put the Ice Wolves up 1-0 in the first period. The Bombers scored in the second period and early in the third, on a power play, to lead 2-1. In the final three minutes of regulation, Kaycee Coyle scored on a powerplay to force overtime.
Twenty shooters participated in the shootout. Three of Flin Flon’s 10 shooters scored, while two of Ice Wolves found the back of the net.
The Ice Wolves host the Bombers on Jan. 3.
Humboldt Broncos (20-9-1-0)
Benjamin Motew made 24 saves as the Humboldt Broncos shut out Weyburn Red Wings, 3-0, on Saturday. Jacob Boucher, Matthew Van Blaricom, and Connor Casparie scored for Humboldt. The Broncos had 43 shots on goal.
Humboldt fell 3-1 at home to the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Dec. 14 in spite of outshooting the visitors, 33-20. The Humboldt team rebounded to beat the Kindersley Klippers, 5-2, Friday afternoon on the road. Five different Broncos scored: Chase Cooke, Maddox Amaral, Spencer Bell, Daylan Weigel, and Ben Kotylak. Motew made 22 saves.
The Broncos return to action on Jan. 6 on the road in Flin Flon.
Melfort Mustangs (17-9-5-1)
In front of 808 on Saturday, the Melfort Mustangs downed the Nipawin Hawks, 8-3. The Mustangs are 7-1-1-1 in their last 10. Melfort led 1-0 after the first period and outscored the Hawks, 6-2, in the second. Tye Evans and Kevin Minnoch each had two goals for the Mustangs. Three of Melfort’s goals came on the powerplay. Nipawin had two goals with the man advantage. Melfort goalie James Venne made 15 saves.
Eight Mustangs scored on Dec. 14 as they galloped past the Melville Millionaires, 9-1. Dawson Leroux led the way with two goals. Venne made 34 saves on 35 shots.
The Mustangs fell 6-3 on the road in Nipawin on Friday. The game was knotted at 1-1 after two period. The Hawks scored five goals in the third period.
The Mustangs tangle with the Hawks. Jan. 6 at home.
Nipawin Hawks (14-16-1-1)
The Hawks exploded for five third period goals to down the Melfort Mustangs, 6-3, on Friday. The contest was tied at 1-1 after the second period. Lighting the lamp for the Hawks in the third were Zander Stewart, Alex Ochitwa, Hudson Cameron, Joel Mabin and Braxton Buckberger. The latter two scored on empty nets. Cameron staked Nipawin to a 1-0 first period lead. For Nipawin, Jackson Fellner made 28 saves for the win.
The Hawks lost 8-3 to Melfort on Saturday. On Dec. 13, the Hawks fell 4-1 to the Ice Wolves. The Hawks fly again on Jan. 6 when they play in Melfort.
Notre Dame Hounds (11-4-2-2)
The Hounds were shut out 4-0 by the Estevan Bruins on Dec. 14. Notre Dame goalie Tucker Inabinet made 27 saves.
The Notre Dame squad lost 6-3 in Weyburn on Friday. Weyburn led 2-1 and 4-1 at the intermissions. Johan Tremblay-Kau started and made 23 saves on 28 shots. Inabinet came on in the third period and stopped 11 of the 12 shots he faced.
The Hounds host the Weyburn Red Wings on Jan. 10 in Radville.
Melville Millionaires (8-19-4-1)
The Millionaires pushed the league-leading North Stars to overtime on Friday before falling 3-2. Isaac Suppin scored in the first period and Sam Schofield lit the lamp in the second to put
Melville up 2-0. The North Stars scored twice in the third to tie things up at 2-2 before delivering the game winner in overtime.
The Millionaires fell 9-1 to Melfort on Dec. 14. The Millionaires play in Yorkton on Jan. 6.
Kindersley Klippers (6-17-2-4) The Klippers drew 1,400 for a sold out 12:30 p.m. start against the Humboldt Broncos last Friday. The visitors were able to grab a 3-1 lead and hold off the Klippers. Cody Jaman made 40 saves for Kindersley.
The Klippers head to North Battleford to play the North Stars on Jan. 6.