With their fans continuing to support them, the Melville Millionaires snapped a six-game losing streak last week.
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team came from behind and used a four-goal third period to knock off Kindersley, 6-3, last Wednesday. The Millionaires earned points in all three of their games last week. Melville shut out Kindersley, 4-0, on Saturday and fell in overtime, 3-2, to Nipawin on Sunday.
That wrapped up a five-game homestand in which Melville went 2-2-1-0. As of Saturday, the 8-14-2-1 Millionaires were fifth in the SJHL with an average attendance of 702 per game – just six people per night behind fourth-place Flin Flon (708). The team has played in 11 one-goal games.
“We just got to tilt that a little bit and eliminate one or two mistakes and that’ll change our fortune… The fans are coming out,” Melville head coach Mike Rooney said. “Any given night, we’re third, fourth in the league in attendance. We understand winning only produces a little bit more that way. We want to make sure we can get some wins and kind of reward our fans.”
Even when the wins have not come this season, Rooney noted “fans are getting treated to some good action and excitement.”
“We play an entertaining style. We skate. We move pucks,” he said.
It is certainly not just during games that the Millionaires feel the community’s support. The Horizon Credit Union Centre features the Prairie Co-op Walking Track. Last Wednesday Rooney said there were about a dozen people using the facility while the Millionaires were conducting their gameday skate. Rooney happened to chat with some of them.
“They like the atmosphere of watching practice and doing their thing up there too,” he said.
Last Wednesday, the Klippers led Melville, 3-1, in the second period. With less than three minutes in the period, Louis-Fredric Theberge scored to pull Melville within one, 3-2. In the final period, the Melville offence was firing on all cylinders. Hometown product Carter McKay lit the lamp twice to put his team ahead 4-3 before Colby Ball made it 5-3. Aiden Robson capped the scoring with an empty net goal.
Theberge scored Melville’s first goal so he finished with a pair on the night. Noah Wills recorded two assists. Isaac Suppin had two helpers. Millionaires goalie Clement Labillois stopped 23 of the 26 shots he faced.
Kelton Pyne stopped all 27 shots he faced as Melville shut out Kindersley 4-0 on Saturday and earned their second straight victory. Ball, Theberge, Jake Briltz, and Ethan Anstey all scored for Melville.
Brayden Fryfogle and McKay scored for Melville in its 3-2 overtime loss on Sunday. Labillois made 48 saves.
The Millionaires play in Nipawin on Wednesday. They host the Flin Flon Bombers on Friday and then play in Nipawin on Sunday.
An influenza outbreak caused the postponement of contests last week featuring the La Ronge Ice Wolves and the Weyburn Red Wings.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have cancelled games involving both La Ronge and Weyburn this weekend to prevent the spread of the influenza virus throughout the league,” SJHL Commissioner Kyle McIntyre said on the league’s website.
He went on to explain that a provision in the SJHL bylaws allows for a team to compete when there are 14 players, including goalie and affiliates. However, McIntyre stated on the website, “I am confident if either team had this number of players healthy the games would have gone on.”
The outbreak kept the Ice Wolves from embarking on their road trip to play Humboldt once and Battlefords twice. All three, along with Flin Flon, are among the top four teams in the SJHL standings.
The Red Wings were unable to play Notre Dame and Estevans.
With the Dec. 1 deadline approaching or teams to cut down to 25 cards, several SJHL made moves last week.
The Humboldt Broncos added 19-year-old defenceman Chase Cooke from the Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League. The 5-foot-7, 185-pounder had three points in 17 games for Merritt this season.
The Kindersley Klippers picked up 2005-born defenceman Danton Cox from the Humboldt Broncos for the rights to 2006-born forward Tyler Phipps and future considerations. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Cox had five assists in 19 games for Humboldt. Phipps is playing for the U18 AAA Saskatoon Contacts this season. As of Sunday, he had seven goals and 14 points in 15 games.
After suiting up as an affiliate player earlier this month, the Broncos added 2006-born forward Matthew Van Blaricom to their roster. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder had 13 goals and 22 points through 17 games for the Tisdale Trojans this season.
Hometown product Logan Linklater, 19, has joined the Kindersley Klippers. The 5-foot-11, 162-pound forward saw action in nine games for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League this fall.
The Melfort Mustangs added a big defenceman in Owen Palfreyman. They picked up the 6-foot-5, 200-pounder from the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for a player development fee. The 19-year-old had two assists in 14 games for the Storm this season.
The Ice Wolves acquired 2004-born forward Mason Bueckert from the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for 2003-born forward Hunter Burgeson and a player development fee. Bueckert had six goals and 11 points in 21 games for the Eagles this season. The Saskatoon product had one goal last year while playing three games as an affiliated player for La Ronge.
Burgeson recorded four goals and seven points in 10 games for La Ronge. The Airdrie product played one game for the AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs at the start of season.
Kindersley Klippers (5-12-2-4)
It was a jampacked week for the Kindersley Klippers on the road with five games in six days. The team went 0-3-2-0.
Things started off last Tuesday with a 2-1 overtime loss to the host Yorkton Terriers. Logan Cox gave the Klippers a 1-0 lead in the second period, but Yorkton tied things up in the third and won in OT on a Dalton Mayes goal. The next night the Klippers lost 6-3 on the road to Melville.
The Kindersley crew led 3-2 after two period but the Millionaires scored four in the final frame. Cody Jaman had 28 saves for Kindersleu.
On Friday the visiting Klippers forced overtime but lost 4-3 to Yorkton. The Klippers had built a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Jaydon Jessiman and Ethan Scriven. The Terriers knotted the game at 2-2 before the first intermission. In the the second session, Yorkton took a 2-1 lead. Linklater tied things up at 2-2. Yorkton’s Quintin Unreiner scored the game winner. Jaman made 35 saves.
The Kindersley team was shutout 4-0 on the road in Melville on Saturday. The Klippers fell 4-3 to Notre Dame on Sunday.
The Klippers host the Notre Dame Hounds on Saturday.
Battlefords North Stars (20-0-2-1)
The league-leading Battlefords North Stars have not lost a game in regulation yet this season. The squad hosts the Notre Dame Hounds on Friday. The North Stars play in Melfort on Saturday.
The North Stars boast the league’s top three scorers, as of Sunday. Holden Doell topped the SJHL with 37 points in 19 games. His teammates Kian Bell and Jake Southgate each had 36 to place second and third, respectively.
Nipawin Hawks (10-12-1-1)
In its lone game last week, the Nipawin Hawks beat Melville, 3-2, in overtime. Nipawin got off to a 1-0 lead on a Maguire Ratzlaff goal. Melville tied the contest at 1-1 in the second. Melville went up 2-1 in the third period, but Francois-Xavier Bedard scored in the final minute to send the game to OT. That set up Braxton Buckberger’s game winner. Jackson Fellner made 22 saves for Nipawin.
The Hawks host Melville on Wednesday and Sunday.
Notre Dame Hounds (9-11-1-1)
On Saturday at home in Wilcox, the Notre Dame Hounds trailed Kindersley, 2-1, after the first period. As the Hounds outscored the Klippers 2-1 in the second frame, the game entered the final period tied 3-3. Captain Jaryd Sych scored the lone third period goal to lift Notre Dame to a 4-3 victory.
Hounds goalie Tucket Inabinet made 27 saves. In addition to Sych, Will Dawson, Rocsyn Bird, and Evan Vanden Heuvel scored for Notre Dame.
The Hounds host the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Tuesday. On Friday they play Battlefords on the road and Kindersley on Saturday.
Humboldt Broncos (16-7-1-0)
Humboldt Broncos goalie Hayden Dunford earned his first win for his squad by shutting out Yorkton, 4-0. The newcomer made 29 saves. Alec Saretzky, Jeter Korte, Samuel Marburg, and Maddox Amaral scored for Humboldt. It was the first SJHL goal for Kote, who is an affiliated player from the U18 AAA Warman Wildcats who has grandparents in the Humboldt/Muenster area. The Broncos fired 50 shots at Terriers netminder Tysen Smith, who stopped 46 of them.
The Broncos play in Weyburn on Saturday.
Melfort Mustangs (12-8-5-0)
The Melfort Mustangs earned points in both of its games in spite of splitting a weekend series with the Flin Flon Bombers. The Mustangs are 7-2-10 in their last 10 outings.
The Mustangs opened last weekend with a 6-3 home victory on Friday. Flin Flon jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead but the Mustangs galloped back with goals by Zac Somers and Cameron Emigh. In the third the hosts outscored the Bombers, 2-1, to take a 4-3 lead. Scoring for Melfort were Somers and Dawson Leroux. In the third, the Mustangs added goals by Aidynn Hutchinson and Leroux. Melfort goalie Joel Favreau had 36 saves.
On Saturday on the road, Melfort led 1-0 after a first period goal by Somers. The host Bombers went on to tie the contest and take a 2-0 lead. Melfort tied it up but Flin Flon answered with two goals to go up 4-2. Somers and Ryan Duguay scored in the last three minutes of regulation to knot the contest at 4-4 and earn the Mustangs at least a point in the standings. Cole Duperreault netted the overtime goal in a 5-4 Bombers victory. For Melfort, James Venne stopped 47 of the 52 shots he faced. Alex Mack had Melfort’s second goal.
The Mustangs host the Yorkton Terriers on Friday and the Battlefords North Stars on Saturday.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (16-7-1-0)
The Ice Wolves are slated to play Notre Dame on Wilcox on Tuesday and the Bruins in Estevan the next day. On Friday, they are to play in Weyburn followed by game Saturday in Estevan.