The Melville Millionaires added more depth and the LaRonge Ice Wolves have apparently changed their focus to the future following a four-player trade made earlier this week.
Heading to Melville are 20-year-olds Nathan Boyer and Brennan Ritchie while moving north to LaRonge are 18-year-old Rhett Kehoe and the rights to 16-year-old Kade Kehoe, along with future considerations.
Boyer was the last player remaining with the Ice Wolves that competed in the 2010 Royal Bank Cup and he was the club’s leading scorer this year with 13 goals and 15 assists. Ritchie, a solid veteran defenseman, had four goals and three assists in 25 games for LaRonge this year.
Rhett Kehoe is a first-year centre in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and in 20 games had two goals and four assists while the younger Kehoe is a left winger with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League where he has collected four goals and nine assists in 18 games.
Kehoe will be in the line-up this weekend when the Ice Wolves host the Kindersley Klippers on Friday and the Estevan Bruins on Sunday. Both the Klippers and Bruins also lost their leading scorers this week as Austin Daae, who had 16 points for Estevan, was signed by the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League and Connor Gay, who had 19 points for Kindersley, was summoned by the WHL’s Regina Pats. Daae is with the Raiders on a permanent basis, but Gay, at least for the moment, is with the Pats as an emergency call-up as Regina has been decimated by injuries.
LaRonge, who snapped a five-game losing streak earlier this week with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Melfort Mustangs, will be looking to escape the North Division basement with a strong weekend. Melfort, who is one point ahead of the Ice Wolves, host Estevan on Friday and Kindersley on Saturday and will be looking to maintain their advantage on LaRonge in addition to keeping the red-hot fourth-place Battlefords North Stars in their sites.
The Bruins, who have lost their last two games and are two points back of the Klippers for fourth place in the Sherwood Division, also play in Flin Flon on Saturday against the Bombers for a gruelling three-games-in-three nights swing through the north.
Boyer and Ritchie will be with the Millionaires this weekend when they play the North Division’s two hottest teams – Battlefords on Friday and Nipawin on Saturday. Melville, who is winless in their last five games and have slipped to third place in the Sherwood Division, host the North Stars, who are undefeated in six games before travelling to Nipawin, who are also undefeated in six games.
One other game on Friday – to recap, other contests are Kindersley in LaRonge, Estevan in Melfort and the Battlefords at Melville – has the hottest team in the league, the Notre Dame Hounds hosting the Weyburn Red Wings. Notre Dame is undefeated in 11 games and have climbed into second place in the Sherwood Division while the Red Wings have also put a streak together, winning their last two games, but still remain in the Sherwood Division basement with just seven victories.
Saturday’s schedule features just the three games – Flin Flon at home looking to snap a three-game losing streak, Melfort hosting Kindersley and the new-look Millionaires in Nipawin – with Sunday’s schedule having a huge contest between the defending league champion Humboldt Broncos and the Yorkton Terriers in addition to the LaRonge and Estevan tilt.
During Flin Flon’s recent slide, Humboldt has crept to within four points of the Bombers for first place in the North Division while the Terriers are winners of seven straight and have built a four-point cushion on the Hounds for the Sherwood Division lead.