The streak is over.
In a week packed with news in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, the biggest headline was the Battlefords North Stars losing in regulation for the first time this season. The North Stars, the top ranked team in the country, was shutout 5-0 by the host Estevan Bruins on Saturday. Jackson Miller made 30 saves for the Bruins. The loss brought to a halt the North Stars’ unprecedented streak this season of 36 games without a loss in regulation. Battlefords had won 16 in a row.
Battlefords leads the SJHL with a 33-1-2-1 record. Many SJHL teams had at least one new face in the lineup last week as squads made moves around the national Jan. 10 trade deadline.
Last week the rosters for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League/ Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Showcase were announced. Each league will have three teams at the event being held Jan. 31-Feb. 1. The league also rolled out its 12-member RBC Community Ambassador Team. A player is selected from each SJHL squad for “making a difference and giving back to their communities where they play.” Fans will vote to see which member of the team receives the RBC Community Award at the end of the regular season.
Melfort Mustangs (19-11-5-1)
The Mustangs announced the post-secondary commitments of two players last week. Captain Ben Tkachuk is committed to play for the University of Saskatchewan. He grew in Sherwood Park, Alta., but has connection to Gronlid. The forward has played four seasons for the Mustangs.
Eighteen-year-old homegrown forward Zac Somers has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Maine. He is in his second season with the Mustangs.
The Mustangs galloped past the Humboldt Broncos, 8-4, on Friday night at home. Dawson Leroux and Aidyn Hutchinson each had two goals and an assist for the victors. Melfort lost 6-2 to Humboldt on the road on Saturday.
Wyatt Day was named the team’s RBC Community Ambassador. The 19-year-old from Grande Prairie is in his second season with the team.
The following Mustangs have been picked for the MJHL/SJHL Showcase: 18U Blue - James Venne, goalie; Riley Ashe, forward; Somers, forward; 20U Gold – Joel Favreau, goalie; Leyton Holoien, defence; Kevin Minnoch, defence; Hayden Tuba, defecnce; Ryan Duguay, forward; Ben Tkachuk, forward; and head coach Trevor Blevins, (serving as an assistant coach).
Last week the Mustangs added 2003-born forward Wyatt Cook from Kindersley in exchange for Alex Mack. He had a goal and an assist in seven games for the Klippers. He has also played in Bonnyville and Flin Flon this season.
Melville Millionaires (10-21-4-1)
The Millionaires were involved in two of arguably the highest profile deals last week. On Jan. 9, they sent captain Zach Cain to the Flin Flon Bombers for fellow 2002-born forward Jaxon Martens. Cain led Melville with 14 goals and was second in points with 34 through 32 games. Martens had 11 goals and 29 points in 33 games this season for the Bombers.
A day later Melville sent leading scorer Noah Wills to the Sherwood Park Crusaders for a player development fee and future considerations. The 19-year-old assistant captain led the Millionaires with 39 points in 34 games.
Melville added goalie Ethan Rau from the Junior B Princeton (B.C.) Posse. He had an 11-2-3 record with a 2.45 goals against average.
Millionaires defenceman Nick Andrusiak’s Western Hockey League rights were acquired by the Red Deer Rebels from the Portland Winterhawks for a 2023 seventh round WHL Prospects Draft pick. The Rebels recalled him at that time.
On the road, Melville lost 4-0 to Nipawin and 8-3 to La Ronge last week. Hometown forward/defenceman Payton Kostyshyn was selected as the team’s RBC Community Ambassador.
The Millionaires’ representatives for the MJHL/SJHL Showcase are: 18U Blue – Carter McKay, forward and 20U Gold – Jaxon Martens, forwards.
Battlefords North Stars (33-1-2-1)
Before falling to the Bruins, the North Stars added two more road wins last week. They beat Notre Dame, 9-6. Riley Girod, Steven Kesslering, and Kian Bell all scored twice for Battlefords. Defenceman Tynan Ewart had three assists. Battlefords beat Weyburn, 6-1. North Stars forward Holden Doell lit the lamp twice. Battlefords goalie Josh Kotai only allowed one goal in on 26 shots.
The North Stars added to their goaltending depth last week by trading for Boston Gelowitz. They sent a 2023 fifth round draft pick to Weyburn for the 19-year-old. Gelowitz has spent much of the season with the Junior B Regina Capitals of the Prairie Junior Hockey League.
Captain Jake Southgate was tabbed as the team’s community ambassador. The forward will be at the MJHL/SJHL Showcase as part of 20U Gold along with goalie Josh Kotai; defencemen Ewart and Tanner Gold; forwards Bell, Doell, Kesslering; head coach Brayden Klimosko; and athletic trainer Brett Dale. On 18U Blue are North Stars Jordan Gibbs and Jordan Grill on defence and forward Allan Jackson.
Nipawin Hawks (17-17-1-1)
The Hawks flew to two wins last week. On Jan. 11, Carson Dobson scored twice as Nipawin defeated La Ronge, 3-2, on the road. Damon Cunningham had 34 saves for the Hawks. Jackson Fellner stopped all 35 shots he faced Friday as Nipawin beat Melville, 4-0. Four different Hawks scored: Maguire Ratzlaff, Braxton Buckberger, Joel Mabin, and Alex Johnson.
Johnson is the team’s RBC Community Ambassador. Going to the MJHL-SJHL Showcase will be defenceman Zander Stewart and Ratzlaff, a forward.
Last week the Hawks moved Jovan Malay to the Rockland Nationals of the Central Canada Hockey League for a player development fee. The 20-year-old forward recorded an assist in five games for Nipawin. He previously was with Dauphin of the MJHL this season.
Humboldt Broncos (23-11-1-0)
The Broncos went 2-1 last week. Five different Broncos scored Jan. 12 as the team beat Flin Flon, 5-2. The host Melfort Mustangs beat Humboldt, 8-4, on Friday. Matthew Van Blaricom and Alec Saretzky each scored twice for the Broncos. A three-goal first period helped the Broncos down Melfort, 6-2, on Saturday. Maddox Amaral had two goals for the host Broncos. Humboldt goalie Benjamin Motew made 23 saves.
The Broncos added to their goaltending corps last week by adding Jared Picklyk. He spent time this season with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes (3.50 goals against average) and Tri-City Americans (4.72 GAA).
The Broncos will be well represented at the MHL-SJHL Showcase. Playing for 18U Blue are defenceman Carsten Kayter and forwards Tim Kim, Xavier Roy, and Van Blaricom. The Broncos on 20U White are: defencemen Noah Barlage and Daylan Weigel; forwards Jacob Boucher, Lucas Ceccarelli, Cage Newans, Saretzky, Ethan Zielke; head coach Scott Barney; and trainer Skip Deeg.
Zielke is the team’s captain. He was named Humboldt’s community ambassador. The 20-year-old is in his third season in La Ronge.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (22-13-2-1)
The Ice Wolves fell to Nipawin, 3-2, on Jan. 11 before beating Melville, 8-3, on Saturday. Eight different Ice Wolves found the back of the net in the victory: Kaycee Coyle, Lleyton Shearon, Mason Bueckert, Jacob Visentini, Dallyn Peekeekoot, Seth Dragan, Jerome Walker, and Trenton Curtis.
Ethan Strik was chosen as the RBC Community Ambassador for the Ice Wolves.
Last week the Ice Wolves swapped the rights to Carter Briltz to the Weyburn Red Wings for a player development fee. Briltz had been with the WHL’s Victoria Royals and had two assist in 33 games for that team.
Headed to the MJHL-SJHL Showcase are Coyle, defence, for 18U Blue; forward Strik for 20U Gold; and goalie Dawson Smith and head coach Kevin Kaminski (serving as an assistant coach) for 20U White.
Kindersley Klippers (7-20-2-4)
On Saturday, the Klippers earned a 3-2 home victory over the Sherwood Division-leading Flin Flon Bombers. The contest was tied at 1-1 and 2-2 at the intermissions before Adam Paplawski scored the game winner in the third. Klippers goaltender Logan Falk turned away 40 of the 42 shots he faced. The night before the Klippers fell 4-2 to the Bombers.
Hometown product Tylin Hilbig was announced as the Klippers’ community ambassador. For the MJHL-SJHL Showcase, Cody Jaman will be the goalie for 18U Blue.
The Klippers added Alex Mack from Melfort for Wyatt Cook. A 2004-born forward, Mack had a goal and an assist in 17 games for the Mustangs. He started the season with the Drayton Valley Thunder. Kindersley sent Jacob Dewitt to the Olds Grizzlys. The 2004-born defenceman saw action in 17 games for Kindersley.
Notre Dame Hounds (12-16-2-2)
With 645 cheering them on in Radville, the Hounds earned a 6-3 victory over the Weyburn Red Wings on Jan. 10. Weyburn led 3-1 after the first period, but the Hounds surged back. After Will Dawson scored Notre Dame’s first goal, Matteo Speranza and Isaiah Peters tied things up at 3-3 in the second. The Hounds dominated the third with Rocsyn Bird, Evan Vanden Heuvel, and Dane Probe scoring. Johann Tremblay-Kau made 34 saves.
On the weekend, the North Stars beat the Hounds, 9-6, while Estevan defeated Notre Dame, 5-3.
Captain Jaryd Sych serves as the team’s RBC Community Ambassador. Sych will play in the MJHL-SJHL Showcase for 20U White. Defenceman Vincent Palmarin will suit up for 18U Blue while Dawson was selected for 20U Gold.