Tyler Heidt, F
When the Melfort Mustangs captured their second straight Canalta Cup title last spring they knew that going forward they were going to have re-stock the cupboards as a number of players from those championship teams were moving on from the Junior “A” ranks.
One of the players who has stepped in to fill a void up front is Saskatoon product Tyler Heidt. The 5-foo-11, 180-pound Heidt, who just turned 18 on Nov. 7, has chipped in with two goals and three assists in his first 24 games with the Mustangs while also accumulating 26 minutes in penalties.
Heidt came to the Mustangs after two successful years with the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s Saskatoon Contacts. Last season, in 40 games, Heidt scored nine goals and added 15 assists on a team that failed to qualify for the post-season, but because the Contacts were the host team for the Telus Cup western regional qualifier his season was extended. Heidt took advantage of that situation and after the Contacts emerged victorious from the qualifier he then added a goal and two assists in five games at the Telus Cup national tournament.
His rookie season with the Contacts in 2014-15, when he was 16 years old, saw him play in all 44 regular-season contests and tally two goals and nine assists.
While his offensive production hasn’t been off the charts he brings a lot more to the rink every day and with two more years of junior hockey remaining after this season, Heidt will likely become a key role player for a club that tries to rebuild for another run at junior hockey glory.
Shane Sherban, F
It is hard to miss Shane Sherban out on the ice.
At 6-foot-4 and 217 pounds the 18-year-old winger is what has become known as a big-body presence.
Nicely into his second full season with the Yorkton Terriers, the Lanigan product has had a bit of a slow start this year scoring three times and setting up three others in 20 games, but his performance last year gives the Terriers confidence of what he is capable of doing. In 53 games as a 17-year-old, on a team that had numerous midget-aged players in the line-up, Sherban scored 10 times and set up 15 others.
Sherban actually got his first taste of Junior “A” hockey when he was 16 years old when he scored once in a two-game audition with the Terriers. Sherban had spent the rest of that season with the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s Saskatoon Blazers and in 35 games with that club had nine goals and seven assists.
Sherban was also with the Blazers in his first season of midget hockey and in 43 games scored three times and assisted on seven more. Prior to moving to Saskatoon for those two seasons, the hulking winger toiled with the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League and in 24 games had nine goals and seven helpers.
The Terriers are still a very young team and with one year of experience together are showing huge signs of improvement. While his numbers have dipped slightly, his role with the team is growing. He certainly creates a lot of space when he is out on the ice.
Estevan Bruins, F
What a first half it's been for Estevan forward Kaelan Holt. A rookie depth forward on last year's potent club that hosted the Western Canada Cup, Holt finished with 7-goals and 27-points. This season, going into the Remembrance Day long weekend, Holt held the SJHL lead with 16-goals in 22-games, and his 25-points had him just outside the league's top five, and on pace for 40+ goals and 70+ points. Holt and the Bruins are exceeding the expectations of many thus far, with a comfortable lead in the Viterra Division.
Humboldt Broncos, D
Only a select few will play in the SJHL as a 16 or 17 year old in a given year, and it's especially tough to make that early jump as a young defenseman. 1999-born Xavier Labelle appears to be fitting in just fine, 20+ games into his rookie season. The Saskatoon, SK product played two full seasons of Midget 'AAA' with his hometown Contacts, including last season when he registered 16-points (6g-10a) while playing in all 44 games. Labelle notched his first SJHL goal November 8th against Notre Dame, and doesn't turn 17 until November 17th.
Melfort Mustangs, F
After a slower start to the season, Melfort's Dakota Boutin appears to be finding his usual offensive touch. Boutin was held off the scoresheet in all five games in September, and since then has points in eight of his last 10 games, including three straight games with goals and multiple points as of early November. Boutin already has an NCAA Scholarship locked up to Northern Michigan starting next season, and he's a proven winner. Boutin scored the overtime winner for the Prince Albert Mintos to win a National 'AAA' Midget Championship, and has since helped the Mustangs to back to back Canalta Cup titles.