The Nipawin Hawks have opposing goalies seeing red at an increased rate this season.
As of Sunday, the squad was fifth in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in goals for with 45 in 13 games. Last season the Hawks were tied for last in the league in that category. Weyburn and Nipawin each had 128 goals with Nipawin playing 58 games and Weyburn 57.
“I think it is just guys taking the next step,” Nipawin head coach Tad Kozun said. “Last year we were a very young team. It was one of those things where we struggled to score goals and some guys maybe didn’t have the confidence they have now. … Seeing the guys back now it shows they’ve taken the next steps there, worked on those things in the offseason, and just come in with a different mindset. They want to be that go-to player. You can see some of the guys now have proven they can be go-to players. They’re just playing a different kind of game than we did all of last year.”
As of Sunday, Maguire Ratzlaff led the SJHL with 13 goals. He was second in points with 18 in 13 games. Alex Johnson sat seventh in the scoring race with 16 points.
The Hawks are 5-6-1-1 as of Sunday. Last season they had a 17-35-0-6 record. The team tweaked its lineup last week by sending 20-year-old forward Bryden Kiesman (six goals and 10 points in 10 games this season) and a player development fee to the Portage Terriers (Manitoba Junior Hockey League) for 18-yearold forwards Hudson Cameron (two goals in six games with Portage) and Alyandro De Leon (four goals and seven points in six games for the Terriers). The team also sent 17-year-old forward Jonah Fournier (one goal in five games) to the Dryden Ice Dogs of the Superior International Junior Hockey League for a player development fee.
“I really like our depth,” Kozun said. “I think these trades … we upgraded in some areas and got our depth a lot more to where we’d like it. We were relying on a few guys, especially through the start. It’s been OK, but with how many injured we have right now, we needed to address a few situations … I think we did that very well with the trades that we made.”
The ex-Hawk and former minor pro player has been impressed with his team’s resiliency in games so far this season.
“There is no quit in these guys right now,” Kozun said. “It is one of those things where we continue to push back. It doesn’t matter if we are down and out, we never give up. We continue to push. It’s kudos to these guys for never giving up and always working hard and really buying into what we’re trying to do here. We stick together and do everything together, which has been huge.”
North Stars & Broncos lose for first time
The long season-opening winning streaks of the Battlefords North Stars and Humboldt Broncos came to an end last week. After starting the season 10-0-0-0, the North Stars fell in a shootout, 2-1, on Oct. 14 to the Melfort Mustangs, who snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory. The Humboldt Broncos were 8-0-0-0 before falling 3-2 at home to the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Oct. 11.
Dawson commits to Air Force
Notre Dame Hounds forward Will Dawson announced his commitment last week to play, study and serve his country at the Air Force Academy. Of the Michigan product, Hounds head coach Brett Pilkington said on the team’s website, “He is a true leader and a tremendous hockey player. Air Force has received a top-notch human being, from a great family.” Dawson is expected to head to the Colorado Springs, Colo. school for the 2024-2025 school year.
Kaminski returns for Ice Wolves
Head coach and general manager Kevin Kaminski is back after serving a 10-game suspension to start the season. Assistant coach Kyle Schneider, aided by Rob Wilson, led the team to 5-4-1 record in his absence. The suspension was for “unprofessional conduct” during a March 10 playoff contest against Humboldt.
Bruins’ streak comes to an end
The Estevan Bruins reeled off seven straight victories before a 7-3 loss on Saturday to the North Stars.
Humboldt Broncos (10-1-0-0)
After their first loss of the season on Tuesday, 3-2 to La Ronge, the Broncos rebounded in a big way with an 11-4 win over Nipawin on the road Friday. Newcomer Jacob Boucher and Cage Newans each netted a hattrick. Boucher had a five-point night, while Xavier Roy recorded four assists.
At home on Saturday, first period goals by Lucas Ceccarelli and Ben Kotylak, shorthanded, helped the Broncos beat Melville, 2-1. The Millionaires scored in the third period but were unable to tie things up. Tristan Boileau made 32 saves for the Broncos.
Boucher joins the Humboldt team via a trade that actually happened in the fall of 2021. The rights to Alec Saretzky and Boucher came from the Surrey (B.C.) Eagles for the rights to Karter McNarland. Boucher split last season between the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings and Vancouver Giants. He has had an immediate impact on the Broncos. Through three games, Boucher has four goals and seven points.
The Broncos are in Kindersley on Friday. They host Nipawin on Saturday.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (7-5-1-0)
After a scoreless first period last Tuesday, Humboldt took a 2-1 lead in the second and held that until late in the final frame. Ethan Strik scored at the 18:40 mark to tie things up at 2-2. Overtime looked probable but Dylan Handel was able to score the game winner at 19:21 to list the Ice Wolves to a 3-2 win and give Humboldt its first loss of the season.
It was the start of a 3-1 road trip for the Ice Wolves. The team fell 2-1 on the road the next night to Yorkton. Last Friday Strik scored the third period’s lone goal to lift the Ice Wolves to a 3-2 victory in Melville.
Two goals in the first period and a pair in the third allowed the Ice Wolves to win 4-1 Saturday in Yorkton. Connor Abric, Strik, Seth Dragan, and Trenton Curtis all scored for La Ronge. Dawson Smith only allowed one goal on 29 shots.
Kaycee Coyle of the Ice Wolves received a four-game suspension for a major boarding penalty in an Oct. 12 game against Yorkton. The Ice Wolves open a four-game homestand hosting the Notre Dame Hounds on Saturday.
Battlefords North Stars (11-0-0-1)
After losing its first game of the season – 2-1 in a shootout to Melfort on Friday – the North Stars regrouped to romp beat Estevan, 7-3, on Saturday. The North Stars scored five straight goals in the contest to hold leads of 3-0 and 5-1. Holden Doell scored a hattrick for Battlefords and finished with four points. Tynan Ewart, Jordan Gibbs, Tanner Gold, and Nikolas Smolinski also scored for the North Stars.
In the midst of an eight-game homestand, the North Stars host Yorkton on Thursday and Friday.
Melfort Mustangs (4-6-4-0)
Riley Ashe found the back of the net last Friday night to lift Melfort to a 2-1 shootout victory over Battlefords. He was the lone shooter out of five, including three North Stars, to score. Mustangs goalie Joel Favreau allowed only one goal on 36 shots. Aidyn Hutchinson netted Melfort’s goal in regulation.
That win snaped a four-game losing streak for the Mustangs. The last of those losses was 4-3 in Wilcox to the Noter Dame Hounds. The Melfort squad came back from a 2-1 deficit at the end of the second period to lead 3-2 in the third. The Hounds scored back-to-back goals to earn the win. After beating Battlefords, Melfort lost 7-4 in Kindersley on Saturday.
The Melfort team added forward Ryan Duguay from Drumheller of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for a player development fee. He turns 19 this week. Duguay was pointless in seven games for Drumheller this season. In 2021-2022, he recorded 10 points over 49 games split between the Whitecourt Wolverines and the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
The Mustangs open a three-game homestand by hosting Estevan on Friday and Saturday.
Nipawin Hawks (5-6-1-1)
The Hawks exploded for five goals in the third period last Tuesday to get past the host Yorkton Terriers, 7-5. After a scoreless first period, Yorkton grabbed a 4-2 lead in the second. In the third, special teams played a big role in Nipawin’s offensive outburst. The Hawks scored twice on the power play and twice shorthanded, including an empty net goal. Maguire Ratzlaff had a hattrick for Nipawin. Hawks defenceman Zander Stewart had four assists.
On Friday, the Hawks fell to the visiting Humbodt Broncos, 11-4.
The Notre Dame Hounds visit Nipawin on Thursday. On Saturday, the Hawks are in Humboldt.
Kindersley Klippers (2-6-0-2)
Last Friday the Klippers were shut out by Estevan, 3-0. They bounced back from that loss to beat Melfort, 7-4, on Saturday. Kindersley got out to a 4-2 first period lead in front of their home crowd. They led 5-3 at the second intermission. Seven different players scored for the Klippers: Liam Bell, Adam Paplawski, Matthew Mazzocchi, Tylin Hilbig, Ethan Scriven, Kayden Ostrom, and goaltender Cody Jaman – an empty net goal.
Klipper Nathan DeGraves was suspended for two games for a major checking from behind penalty in an Oct. 14 game against Estevan.
The Klippers continue their six-game homestand this week. The Weyburn Red Wings visit on Tuesday, The Humboldt Broncos are in town on Friday, while the Yorkton Terriers play at the West Central Events Center on Saturday.
Melville Millionaires (4-6-1-1)
The Millionaires are looking to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the Weyburn Red Wings on Friday. The two teams meet again in Weyburn on Saturday.
Last week the Melville squad fell 7-2 to Flin Flon last Tuesday and La Ronge, 3-2, on Friday – both at home. On Saturday, the Millionaires lost to Humboldt, 2-1, on the road. Kelton Pyne stopped 33 shots for Melville.
Notre Dame Hounds (4-6-0-1)
Notre Dame won both of its games at home last week. Halfway through the third period last Tuesday, the Hounds trailed the Melfort Mustangs 3-2. Dane Probe tied the contest and, with less
than three minutes to play, Antoine Saint-Onge scored the game winner. Hounds netminder Tucker Inabinet made 38 saves.
On Saturday, Notre Dame led 2-0 and 3-0 at the intermissions en route to a 4-1 win over Flin Flon. Jaryd Sych and Carson Baylis each lit the lamp twice for the Hounds. Inabinet had 31 saves.
The Hounds hit the road this week. They are in Nipawin on Thursday, Flin Flon on Friday, and La Ronge on Saturday.