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    • HANGING AROUND

    • 02/21/2017, 9:30pm CST , By Craig Stein
    • Millionaires Within Four Points Of A Playoff Spot
    • Read More

    SPOTLIGHT ON OUR YOUNG GUNS

    Alex Maticic, F
    Melville Millionaires

    by Dave Leaderhouse

    The Melville Millionaires knew coming into the 2016-17 season that it was going to be a learning process as they try to rebound from missing out on the playoffs last spring.
    While they still remain alive in their chase for a coveted post-season berth, one of the many things they have learned is that they have plenty of young talent making the future very bright.
    One of those young players is 18-year-old Alex Maticic, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound winger from Thunder Bay, Ont.
    It has been a wild ride for Maticic to get to Melville as in the past 12 months his rights have belonged to three different teams in three different leagues.
    Last year Maticic posted 21 goals and 23 assists in 54 games with English River of the Superior International Junior Hockey League and he followed that up by adding six goals and six helpers in nine playoff games. Then he was on the move to the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, but before he even dressed in a single game with that squad he was acquired by the Millionaires for a player development fee.
    Maticic hasn’t disappointed the new regime in Melville as through 45 games he tallied five times and assisted on 12 others and gained invaluable experience going forward.
    It isn’t the first time Maticic has played in Saskatchewan as he was an alternate captain with the Thunder Bay Midget AAA team that represented Northern Ontario at the 2014 western regional Telus Cup event held in Prince Albert. Maticic had 48 points in 61 games with Thunder Bay that year and while his club didn’t advance to the national championship it got him noticed for the move to junior hockey the following year when he began his two-year run with English River.
    Maticic has shown in the past he has leadership skills and offensive capabilities and with a year under his belt in Melville he will only make the Millionaires a better team going forward and that might still include a surprising charge to the playoffs this year.

    Brayden Dunn, F
    La Ronge Ice Wolves

    by Dave Leaderhouse

    To say it has been a frustrating season in La Ronge would be a huge understatement, but out of the dust has come some promising young talent and one of those players the Ice Wolves will be looking toward in the future is Brayden Dunn.
    A former fourth-round pick of the Victoria Cougars in the 2013 Western Hockey League bantam draft, Dunn has put up some impressive numbers on a team that has struggled through a tumultuous season that has included three different coaches behind the bench.
    Acquired from the Whitecourt Wolverines in mid-October, along with netminder Aaron McKay, Dunn has posted 7-11-18 totals in 36 games. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound winger from Calgary has been used in all situations with five of his 18 points having come on the power-play.
    Prior to his move to northern Saskatchewan, Dunn had played 10 games this year with Whitecourt, four more last year with the Wolverines and six with the Calgary Canucks where in 20 games of previous junior hockey experience he had managed just one goal and one assist.
    His adjustment to the junior level might have taken a bit of time, but now that he has caught on with the Ice Wolves they have something to look forward to as Dunn finished his midget career with the Calgary North Stars last year in exceptional style having scored seven goals and set up six others in just seven playoff games. He also had 14-25-39 totals in 30 regular-season contests showing he has the ability to be an offensive contributor once he has adjusted to the level of play.
    That was never more evident in his final year of bantam hockey when he registered 53 points in 33 games with the Calgary North Star Sabres and then in the playoffs he added 16 more points in 12 post-season tilts. At the Alberta Cup that year, Dunn lit it up even more scoring six times and assisting on four others in just five games.
    While the Ice Wolves have had a season to forget, they do have reasons to be excited about the future and Dunn certainly is one of those.

     

    FACES IN THE GLASS

    CRAIG PEJKOVIC, F
    La Ronge Ice Wolves

    by Craig Stein

    It's been a tough year in La Ronge as far as the standings go, but through a coaching change and some top players being moved at the deadline, one veteran playing his best hockey of the year lately has been 19-year-old forward Craig Pejkovic.  The 6-foot-3, 205 lb Sherwood Park, AB product finished January on a four game point streak (2g-4a-6p), and is set to more than double his point total of a year ago when he was a rookie.  The Ice Wolves will finish the season with just one 20-year-old on the roster (defenseman Lucas Nagel), and have pieces to build on going forward, with a guy like Pejkovic up front in particular.

    DAMIAN BENTZ, F
    Melville Millionaires

    by Craig Stein

    A return home appears to be paying dividends for Melville forward Damian Bentz.  After AP'ing for the Millionaires for a single game two years ago, Bentz started this season with the defending RBC Cup Champion West-Kelowna Warriors, before being re-acquired by Melville in October, finding his stride right away, putting up points in each of his first two games, and had 10-goals and 25-points through 35 games.  Those totals have him in the top 10 among SJHL rookies, despite his late arrival.  The Punnichy, SK product spent his 'AAA' Midget days, just down the highway from Melville, in Yorkton for three full seasons.

    BRANDEN WAGNER, F
    Kindersley Klippers

    by Craig Stein

    While many teams in the bottom half of the standings were moving key veteran players out at this season's trade deadline, the Kindersley Klippers, at that time hovering at or below the final playoff spot, were quiet on January 10th.  The likes of 20-year-old Branden Wagner, likely a sought-after commodity for contending teams, stayed put after the deadline, and, the Klippers rocketed up the standings, winning seven straight games (as of Feb/6), a streak that took them from out of a playoff spot, to on a verge of avoiding the Wild Card series, with a top six spot.  Wagner's been at the forefront with 20+ goals and 40+ points on the season.


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