A pair of Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League players are representing their country at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge.
Ethan Zielke of the Humboldt Broncos and Melfort Mustangs hometown product Zac Somers are competing for Canada Team West at the prestigious tournament. Battlefords North Stars head coach Brayden Klimosko is an assistant coach for the team. This year’s event runs Dec. 11-18 in Cornwall, Ont.
Canada West opened the tournament with a 4-3 victory over the United States on Sunday. Somers scored the game-winning goal – the lone marker in the third period. The contest was tied 2-2 and 3-3 at the intermissions. Zielke assisted on Canada West’s third goal.
The Canada West squad’s foes in the tournament are Canada East, Latvia, Sweden and the United States. Canada West last won gold in 2017. As well as Somers and Zielke, Holden Doell of the North Stars and the Flin Flon Bombers’ Jeremi Tremblay were invited to the Canada West selection camp.
Melfort Mustangs rookie sensation Riley Ashe has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks made it to the Frozen Four in 2015 and last competed in the national tournament in 2021.
“I committed there because of the coaching staff and the interest they have in me,” Ashe said on the team’s website. “After going down there for the visit I had a really good feeling about the place and knew it was where I wanted to be.”
In his 16-year-old season, Ashe has had a major impact for the Mustangs. The 6-foot-1, 170-poun forward has five goals and 23 points in 28 games. His late brother, Dylan, was a defenceman for the team.
It was also announced last week that 19-year-old forward Mi-Kwan Tallman of the Weyburn Red Wings has committee to play at University of Concordia Wisconsin. The team plays at the NCAA Division III level.
Melfort Mustangs (15-8-5-1)
The Melfort Mustangs won both of their games last week. They are 8-0-1-1 in their last 10 games.
Dawson Leroux’s shootout goal gave the Mustangs a 3-2 win over the host Estevan Bruins last Friday. Earlier in the shootout, Leyton Holoin scored for Melfort, while Mitch Kohner had Estevan’s goal. There were five shooters for each team.
After a scoreless first period, each team scored once in each of the next two frames. Hayden Tuba and Ashe had Melfort’s goals. The Mustang’ James Venne made 33 saves.
On Saturday, a two-goal third period got the Mustangs past the Weyburn Red Wings, 3-2. After a 1-1 first period, Weyburn went up 2-1 in the second. Leroux, on the powerplay, and Leith Olafson lit the lamp in the third for Melfort. David Rioux had the team’s first goal. Melfort netminder Joel Favreau had 27 saves.
Battlefords North Stars (25-0-2-1)
With Klimosko away with Canada West, associate head coach Garry Childerhose and assistant coach Matt Procyshen guided the North Stars to three more wins. The North Stars have still not fallen in regulation this season.
A two-goal first period helped the North Stars to a 3-2 win over the visiting La Ronge Ice Wolves on Dec. 7. Tanner Gold, captain Jake Southgate, and Colby Bear had Battlefords’ goals. North Stars goalie Josh Kotai made 39 saves on 40 shots.
On Friday, the North Stars scored once in each period in a 3-1 victory over the visiting Nipawin Hawks. Justen Maric made 39 saves for Battlefords. Kian Bell had two goals for the North Stars, while Riley Girod scored once.
In Nipawin on Saturday, the teams were locked at 1-1 after the first period of play. Battlefords led 2-1 at the second intermission and won 4-1. Bell capped the game with an empty net goal. It was his second market on the night. Colby Bear also scored for the North Stars. Kotai allowed one goal on 41 shots.
Humboldt Broncos (18-8-1-0)
The Broncos split their games last week. The Broncos fell 5-2 to Notre Dame at home on Dec. 7. Humboldt led 2-1 after the first period. The Hounds tied it up in the second at 2-2. The Hounds scored three times in the third, including an empty net goal.
The Broncos rebounded to beat the Melville Millionaires, 4-1, on the road on Friday. Scoring for Humboldt were Spencer Bell, Matthew Van Blaricom, Alec Saretzky, and Cage Newans. Benjamin Motew made 26 saves.
Bell was acquired by the Broncos last week from the Blackfalds Bulldogs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He came with future considerations. Going the other way were goalie Tristan Boileau and future considerations. A 2003-born, 6-foot, 168-pound forward, Bell scored six goals, had 12 points, and recorded 61 penalty minutes in 27 games for the Bulldogs.
Nipawin Hawks (13-14-1-1)
The Nipawin Hawks extended their winning streak to four games last week and then saw it end at the hands of league’s top team.
On Dec. 6, the Hawks flew past the visiting Yorkton Terriers, 10-2. Nipawin led 3-0 and 7-0 at the intermissions. Carson Dobson and Maguire Ratzlaff each scored twice for the Hawks. Also getting goals for Nipawin were Vito Biondo, Alyandro De Leon, Alex Ochitwa, Rylan Lefebvre, Reese Malkewich, and Braxton Buckberger. Chase Visser, Zander Stewart, De Leon, Lefebvre, Reid Mackay and Joel Mabin each had two assists.
Jackson Fellner made 29 saves in the win.
The streak came to an end in a 3-1 loss Friday in North Battleford against the SJHL-leading North Stars. Nipawin was 1-for-six on the powerplay, while Battlefords was 1-for-four.
The next night, in Nipawin, Battlefords won 4-1. The game was tied at 1-1 after the first period. The North Stars took a 2-1 lead in the second session and extended it in the third.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (19-9-2-0)
The Ice Wolves fell in both games last week. As of Sunday, the squad was second In the SJHL standings with 40 points due to a 19-9-2-0 record.
On Dec. 7, the Ice Wolves fell 3-1 on the road to the league-leading North Stars. Against Yorkton on Saturday, the team lost 3-2 in overtime at home to the Yokrton Terriers. Quintin Unreiner had the winning goal for the Dogs. Yorkton led 2-1 at the intermissions. Thomas Wright had La Ronge’s first goal, while Jacob Cossette scored in the third to tie up the game at 2-2.
Kindersley Klippers (6-16-2-4)
The Klippers suffered a pair of 2-0 losses last week. On Dec. 7, they lost 4-2 on the road to Estevan. Kindersley led 1-0 after the first period, but Estevan had two second period goals and outscored them 2-1 in the third. For Kindersley, Cody Jaman made 41 saves.
On Friday in Weyburn, the Klippers fell 4-2 to the Red Wings. The two teams were tied at 2-2 after the first period. Weyburn scored once in the following two periods. Jaman made 43 saves.
The Klippers sent the rights to Matthew Ripplinger to the Red Wings for player development fee. The 2004-born forward played two games for the Klippers this season. He has been playing with the Junior B Pilot Butte Storm. He had 11 goals and 22 points through 17 games.
Melville Millionaires (8-18-3-1)
The Melville Millionaires picked up a point in the standings in a 5-4 loss to Estevan on Sunday. Melville led 3-0 at home after the first period. The Bruins cut the lead to one, 3-2, at the second intermission. Estevan outscored the hosts, 2-1, in the third. Scoring for Melville were Isaac Suppin, Cooper Chisholm, Louis-Frederic Theberge and Carter McKay.
On Friday, the Millionaires lost 4-1 at home to Humboldt. Aiden Robson had Melville’s goal.
The Millionaires recently had two players recalled by their Western Hockey League clubs. Goalie Kelton Pyne joined the Regina Pats. Nicholas Andrusiak was recalled by the Portland Winterhawks.
Notre Dame Hounds (11-12-2-2)
In their lone game last week, the Hounds beat the Humboldt Broncos, 5-2. Notre Dame trailed 2-1 after the first period. The Hounds’ Will Dawson tied the game at 2-2 in the second period. In the third, Notre Dame took control with Isaiah Peters, captain Jaryd Sych and Jacob Ligi scoring. Ligi’s was into an open net. Cyprus Smith-Davis scored for the Hounds in the first period. Tuck Inabinet made 46 saves for the Notre Dame.