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Faces in the Glass Archives

JUSTIN BUZZEO
Humboldt / Yorkton (Alumni)

by Craig Stein

In just two seasons in the SJHL, Ontario product Justin Buzzeo certainly left his mark, and six years later he's got a college degree and still playing pro.  Buzzeo joined the Humboldt Broncos as a 19-year-old back in 2009-2010 where he put up 20-goals and 53-points.  The following year he was traded along with Jeremy Boyer to Yorkton just prior to the trade deadline and Buzzeo racked up 33-goals and 89-points in 60 games between the Broncos and Terriers.  After four full seasons of Division I NCAA hockey at Ferris State, where he put up 68-points in 122 games, the now 27-year-old finds himself just wrapping up his second full season in the ECHL, and was moved from the Atlanta Gladiators to the Orlando Solar Bears in midway through this season.  He had 63-points in 69-games this regular season.

BRAYDON BUZIAK
Battlefords / Regina (WHL)

by Craig Stein

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is a developmental league, and while often times that means moving players onto the college, university or professional level after age 20, it can also mean moving a youngster on to Major Junior.  That was the case for 18-year-old Braydon Buziak.  After a 19 point (6g-13a) season as a 17-year-old with Battlefords a year ago, Buziak missed the opportunity to win a Canalta Cup with his hometown North Stars, but his season could be just as long or longer, as he's currently in the Western Hockey League Eastern Conference Final as a member of the Regina Pats.  Buziak had 11-goals and 15-points with the Pats this season, and added a goal in Game 4 of the Eastern Final against Lethbridge.

CHRIS KUNITZ
Melville / Pittsburgh Penguins

by Craig Stein

Former Melville Millionaire Chris Kunitz finds himself in this space most years at this time, as his Pittsburgh Penguins always seem to be the mix for a Stanley Cup.  Kunitz spent his 18 and 19-year-old seasons with Melville in the late 1990's, tearing up the league to the tune of 88-goals and 146-points over two seasons.  That earned him a four year ride to Ferris State (NCAA) and eventually a long and decorated NHL career.  Kunitz has sipped from Lord Stanley's mug three times, once with Anaheim and twice with Pittsburgh, and they're poised for another run.  He also added Olympic gold to the trophy case in 2014.  Kunitz, who turns 38 this September, managed 29 points this season in more of a depth role, not on his familiar wing with Sidney Crosby for a good part of the year.

BRENDEN NEWTON, G
Flin Flon Bombers

by Craig Stein

When the Flin Flon Bombers were trailing the Nipawin Hawks 2-games-to-1 in their SJHL Semi-Final series, and down 4-0 in the first period of Game 4, Brenden Newton came off the bench to make his first appearance of the series.  While the Bombers failed to battle back and win Game 4, Newton did stop all 22 shots he faced in relief, and never gave up the crease again, leading the Bombers to three straight wins, giving up just two goals, capped off by a 36 save shutout in Game 7 at home, vaulting Flin Flon to a Canalta Cup Final date with the top seeded Battlefords North Stars.  In the Nipawin series, in four appearances Newton was 3-0, with a remarkable 0.54 GAA and a .984 save percentage.

LAYNE YOUNG, F
Battlefords North Stars

by Craig Stein

There may not have been a more dynamic duo in the SJHL this season that Battlefords forwards Layne Young and Coby Downs.  The two of them are both coming off back to back 20+ goal, 70+ point seasons, and in the playoffs, there's been no doubt they've been at the top of the class.  Even though the Stars needed just 8 games to sweep their way to the Canalta Cup Final, after going unbeaten against Weyburn and Estevan, that duo combined to rack up an incredible 38-points (8g-30a) during those games.  Downs led the way through the Semi-Finals with 2g-18a-20p, while Young wasn't far off with his 6-goals and 18-points.  While Downs will cap his junior career whenever the Stars' playoff run ends, Young could be back next year as a 20-year-old, where he'll be eyeing up milestones such as 200 career points.

ERIC SINCLAIR, D
Flin Flon Bombers

by Craig Stein

Flin Flon defenseman Eric Sinclair received some high praise from the opposing coach heading into the Canalta Cup Final, when Battlefords' Coach/GM Nate Bedford referred to Sinclair being "as good as it gets not only in our league but across Canada." (courtesy a pre-series interview with Stars' radio voice Nathan Kanter).  Certainly a fair assessment, as Sinclair is coming off a second straight season being named the SJHL's Top Defenseman.  Last year the honour came as a member of the Melfort Mustangs, while his rights moved to Melville early in the season and eventually north to Flin Flon.  Despite playing in just 44 regular season games, he narrowly upped last season's point total, from 45 to 46 (15g-31a).  He also had 12 points (4g-8a) through 12 playoff games leading up to the Canalta Cup Final.

JASON MILLER, F
Estevan Bruins

by Craig Stein

After the Estevan Bruins had a middle-of-the-pack finish a year ago with a Western Canada Cup hosting, veteran-laden roster, and much of that group moving on due to graduation, it seemed reasonable that a rebuild might be on the horizon in Estevan.  However a great recruiting class, returnees elevating their games, and some key acquisitions led to the Bruins leading the Viterra Division almost wire-to-wire, and hanging that division pennant has made last season a distant memory.  One of those acquisitions making a huge difference has been 20-year-old Jason Miller, who was second on the club with 59-points, and third with 26-goals.  Miller spent the last two seasons in Drayton Valley (AJHL).  He led the way with five goals in the Bruins' first round win over Yorkton, clearing the way for a Semi-Final match with league-leading Battlefords.

BEN ALLEN, F
Battlefords North Stars

by Craig Stein

With high-profile SJHL veterans like Layne Young and Coby Downs ahead of him on the depth chart, first year SJHL'er Ben Allen quietly put up a better than point-per-game season with the Battlefords North Stars.  The 19-year-old from Allen, Texas put up 45-points (19g-26a) in 44-games after he was picked up early in the season from the AJHL's Fort McMurray Oil Barons.  Allen came up through the Dallas Stars U16 and U18 ranks before heading north, and in these playoffs, Allen has risen to the top, leading the charge with six goals, scoring in every game of a four game sweep over Weyburn.  The North Stars led the regular season in points and look to keep on rolling as they tangle with the Estevan Bruins in the SJHL Semi-Finals.

BRANDAN ARNOLD, F
Nipawin Hawks

by Craig Stein

Some key mid-season additions to the Nipawin Hawks forward group turned them from a team that could already win games with stingy defense and goaltending, to a club that could suddenly really put the puck in the net, while maintaining their stingy defense and goaltending, thus making them arguably the hottest team in the league in the second half of the season, right there with league-leading Battlefords. Eric Bolden returned from the NCAA, Keegan Milligan was acquired via trade from Melville, and the Hawks landed 19-year-old Brandan Arnold back from Swift Current (WHL).  Arnald racked up 6-goals and 14-points in just 9 games in the regular season, and added five points (1g-4a) in a four game sweep of Humboldt in the Quarter-Finals.  The Hawks take on Flin Flon in the Semis.

GREYSON REITMEIER, F
Flin Flon Bombers

by Craig Stein

Flin Flon's Greyson Reitmeier racked up nine points in his last three regular season games to make a late charge and end up tied for the SJHL scoring lead with Notre Dame's Ben Duperreault.  Reitemeier trailed Duperreault by seven points heading into the final weekend, and he capped things off with an assist in the dying minutes of Flin Flon's last regular season game, to finish up with 79 points (28g-51a).  Reitmeier's 20-year-old season was a breakout one, as he 13-goals and 26-points a year ago, and 7-goals and 16-points as a rookie.  He shared both the scoring lead and the SJHL Player Of The Year honour with Duperreault, and Reitmeier will play NCAA Division I next season at Michigan Tech.

DAKOTA ODGERS, F
Yorkton Terriers

by Craig Stein

Dakota Odgers is seeing his Junior hockey career come full circle.  The 20-year-old from Spy Hill, SK, joined the Terriers for the playoffs in 2013 when they went all the way to the Canalta Cup Championship, beating the Humboldt Broncos in six games.  Odgers had 8 points in 8 playoff games at just 16 years of age.  Four seasons in the Western Hockey League with Swift Current, Vancouver and Moose Jaw later, Odgers returned to the Terriers at this season's trade deadline, and rediscovered his scoring touch once again, getting a prominent role in the Terriers' top six, putting up 21-points (8g-13a) in 19-games.  As the Terriers get set to battle the Viterra Division champion Estevan Bruins in the Quarter-Finals, Odgers is looking to end his last junior season the same way his first did.

CONNOR SWYSTUN, D
Humboldt Broncos

by Craig Stein

Whenever the Humboldt Broncos' season ends, whether it's this month or if they go on a run, it will bring an end to an incredibly consistent, steady career for 20-year-old defenseman Connor Swystun.  The Saskatoon product will have played every single game of junior he ever suited up in, in Broncos' Green & Gold, and there were a lot of them.  The Broncos recognized Swystun for his 200th regular season game, and his regular season career was capped with 207, with 50 or more in each of his four seasons, and prior to these playoffs even starting, he'd added another 14 post season games to his career, and he'll leave big skates to fill when the Broncos kick off their 2017-2018 season.

EVAN PLOTNIK, G
Melfort Mustangs

by Craig Stein

It was an interesting year for Melfort goalie Evan Plotnik.  The 19-year-old started his second season with the Mustangs, and ended up in Melville as part of a futures deal from last season.  He played two games for the Millionaires, the first, against the rival Yorkton Terriers, and the second, against his former team, the Mustangs.  He was promptly dealt right back to Melfort, and would eventually appear in 41 games with the Mustangs.  The Capistrano Beach, California product started Melfort's first 14 games of last year's playoffs before starter Richard Palmer returned midway through the final.  He's got the reigns to start this year's post-season as the Mustangs battle Notre Dame in the Wild Card Series.

CARSON ROSE, F
Weyburn Red Wings

by Craig Stein

Who knows how long Carson Rose's point streak may have lasted if the regular season didn't come to an end.  Rose took off over the last month+ of the season, finishing the year with points in each of his last 13 games.  It's not like he had a terrible first half of the year, with 20-points in his first 32-games, but since January 27st, Rose racked up 23-points, including 13-goals, during those final 13-games.  Only Nipawin's Josh Bly had more points (in two more games) during that stretch.  The 20-year-old from Surrey, BC finished with 24-goals and 46-points, and hopes to pick up where he left off as the Red Wings tangle with Kindersley in the Wild Card Series.

BEN DUPERREAULT, F
Notre Dame Hounds

by Craig Stein

Going into the last weekend of the regular season, Notre Dame's Ben Duperreault had a seven point lead at the top of the SJHL scoring lead.  In his last three games, Flin Flon's Greyson Reitmeier racked up nine points, while Duperreault chipped in a pair, and the two high-flying forwards ended the season tied with 79 points each, sharing the SJHL scoring championship.  Reitmeier picked up an assist with about three minutes left in Flin Flon's final game March 8th.  While there's no tie-breaker, Duperreault did lead the league with 37 goals, and the 20-year-old hometown Wilcox product now has his sights set on the Wild Card Series as the Hounds take on the Melfort Mustangs.

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.

BRANDON 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 Brandon 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.

COBY DOWNS, F
Battlefords North Stars

by Craig Stein

Despite rejoining the Battlefords North Stars about a month into the season, 20-year-old forward Coby Downs is in the conversation for a scoring title.  The Mont Clair, California product had 27-goals and 73-points with the Stars last season, then returned south of the border, beginning this season in the USHL.  Not the Stars were hurting for scoring before his return, but he was welcomed back with open arms.  He currently leads the league in points per game, and on trade deadline day, was riding a 10 game point streak (4g-14a-18p) while being within striking distance of the league-lead.  The Stars are 25-3-0-0 since Downs re-joined them in mid-October.

KRISTIAN STEAD, G
Nipawin Hawks

by Craig Stein

The Nipawin Hawks were flirting with a sub-2.00 Goals Against Average, well past the midway point of this season, and while a team commitment to defense is always part of that, it's no secret that getting elite level goaltending every night is the catalyst, and that's been very true for the Hawks and 20-year-old Kristian Stead.  The Hawks' second year starter, as of January 11th, was top-five in the SJHL in every major goaltending statistic, ranking 2nd in save percentage (.929), 3rd in minutes, 4th in wins and goals against average (2.15) and third in shutouts (3).  The Hawks have games in hand on all of the teams ahead of them in the standings, and they'll look to gain some ground in the final 20+ games.

JACOB WOZNEY, F
Weyburn Red Wings

by Craig Stein

As a team, the Weyburn Red Wings have struggled at times with scoring this season, but one veteran forward helping to change that is 20-year-old Jacob Wozney.  Wozney hit the 20-goal plateau in early January, and leads the team by a fair margin in that department, and has four multi-goal games on the year, and also has a slim lead in points on the club.  And just for good measure, Wozney also adds some sandpaper to the lineup, as he's already past the century mark in penalty minutes on the season, also tops on the Wings.  In his second and final season in the SJHL, the Richmond, BC product has been joined on the Red Wings by his brother, 19-year-old Noah.

BRANDON LESKO
Flin Flon, F
CANADA WEST


Brandon Lesko joins teammate Cory Thomas and Coach Mike Reagan in a strong Bombers' contingent to be part of this year's World Junior 'A' Challenge, December 11-17 in Bonnyville, AB. Lesko has a full year's head start on most 18-year-olds in the SJHL, having played a full year (57 games) a year ago at 17, where he put up 8-goals and 26-points.  He's already out-done his goal total, and is well on his way to a new career high in points as well, having posted 12-goals and 20-points in 26-games before leaving for the tournament. 

REGAN SEIFERLING
Yorkton Terriers, D
CANADA WEST

A trio of SJHL players are in Bonnyville, AB for the World Junior 'A' Challenge this week, as Yorkton defenseman Regan Seiferling joins a duo of Flin Flon Bombers to his left and right in this section at the annual event.  Seiferling returned from injury in time to make an impression at the selection camp and earned one of five (maximum) spots handed out to 19-year-olds.  The Moose Jaw product already has an NCAA Division I scholarship sewn up, having committed last season to the RIT Tigers, a scholarship which could start as soon as next season.

CORY THOMAS
Flin Flon, D
CANADA WEST


His offensive numbers might not jump off the page at you, but that's far from the main concern of towering Flin Flon defender Cory Thomas.  The 6-foot-5 210-pound 18-year-old from St. Brieux can make life tough on the opposition, and that's sure to be his job at the World Junior 'A' Challenge this week.  Bombers' Coach/GM Mike Reagan, also part of the Team Canada West staff, said in the Flin Flon Reminder, “It’s his ability to defend.  His size is definitely an asset of his and he can play a good shutdown role."

KAELAN HOLT
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.

XAVIER LABELLE
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.

DAKOTA BOUTIN
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.

TRISTEN ELDER
La Ronge Ice Wolves, F


It hasn't been an easy start to the season for the La Ronge Ice Wolves, but one of the bright spots early on has been 19-year-old forward Tristen Elder.  He kicked off the season scoring goals in four of his first five games.  The Kinistino, SK product spent most of last season with the WHL's Swift Current Broncos, where he put up two points in 38-games.  Prior to his junior career, Elder suited up with the Tisdale Trojans in Midget 'AAA' for two seasons, and had 32-points (16g-16a) in 44-games as a 16-year-old before making the jump to the Ice Wolves the following year.

BRANDON WELLS
Melville Millionaires, G


In his first nine starts of the 2016-2017 season, Brandon Wells was 5-4-0, despite facing more than 30 shots in 8 of them.  After dropping his first two decisions of the season, Wells gave up three goals or less in his next seven starts (and three only once), and that included a hard-luck loss where he made 51/53 saves in Flin Flon.  Before the season, first-year Millionaires' Coach/GM Devin Windle called Wells a big, athletic goalie who appeared ready to become a top-tier puck stopper in the SJHL, and so far 6-foot-2 Spirit River, Alberta product appears right on track.

JOSH BLY
Kindersley Klippers, F


He came on strong towards the end of last season, and Josh Bly has continued to lead the Kindersley Klippers through the first quarter of his 20-year-old season.  The Saskatoon product came up through the 'AAA' ranks with the Battlefords Stars, putting up 65 points (21g-44a) in his 17-year-old season.  In his rookie season of Junior, Bly suited up out west with the BCHL's West Kelowna Warriors, and arrived back in his home province with the Klippers last year, finishing with 29-points in just 35 games.  Bly is already nearing his goal total from a year ago and if healthy, shouldn't have trouble setting a new career high in points either.

NATHAN HARGRAVE
Weyburn Red Wings, G


After two seasons in Kindersley, 20-year-old goalie Nathan Hargrave was moved to Weyburn over the summer, and after mainstay Jack Burgart graduated, the Red Wings haven't seen any kind of downgrade between the pipes with Hargrave through the first month of the season.  Through his first nine starts, Hargrave allowed three goals or less in all but one of them, including a pair of shutouts.  Fri/Oct/7 against Notre Dame, Hargrave was perfect in a 12 round shootout, and the very next night, posted a 29-save shutout against La Ronge.

JOEL GRYZBOWSKI
Battlefords North Stars, G


There appears to be a goaltending factory in West Central Saskatchewan, and the Battlefords North Stars aren't having to look far from home.  A year ago, 17-year-old rookie Taryn Kotchorek, a North Battleford product, asserted himself into the mix and earned minutes with veteran goalies in the fold.  This season, another 17-year-old, 1999-born Joel Gryzbowski from Hafford, SK, has been outstanding in the early going.  His first four starts produced a pair of shutouts, and just two goals against, for a 0.50 GAA, and .979% (94/96 saves).  Gryzbowski put up a .926 save percentage with the Saskatoon Blazers (SMAAAHL) last season.

ZAC ROBIDOUX
Flin Flon Bombers, G


It's the goalie panel in this segment this time around, but they've earned it.  With the Flin Flon Bombers carrying an extra 20-year-old at the start of the season, Zac Robidoux was the odd man out in the beginning, but since getting back to the crease, Robidoux posted a 3-0-1 record over his first four starts, to go along with a 1.71 GAA, .949% and a shutout.  The Winnipeg product had 20 wins and 5 shutouts a year ago, splitting duties with Brenden Newton.  Prior to coming to Flin Flon, Robidoux had an RBC Cup under his belt with Portage (MJHL), and also has WHL experience with Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

KALEM ZARY
Melfort Mustangs, F


One player who appears well on track to having a career year is Melfort's Kalem Zary.  The 19-year-old sophomore forward had more of a depth role while helping the Mustangs to their second straight Canalta Cup Championship a year ago, putting up 6-goals and 11-points during the season, and adding another 3-goals in the playoffs.  He was halfway to last year's totals through the opening weekend of this season, racking up a league-high 3-goals and 5-points through two games against La Ronge.

LYNNDEN PASTASCHUK
Estevan Bruins, F


While the Estevan Bruins were loading up to host last year's Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup, team were no doubt offering up their top end players in hopes of landing Lynnden Pastachak in a futures deal for this year.  If that was the case, Bruins' Coach/GM Chris Lewgood was obviously having none of it, as Pastachak is back in the fold as a 20-year-old, and has to be in the discussion as a Top 5 choice to win the scoring race.  The Bienfait product had 5 points on opening weekend as Estevan won a pair of games against Melville
.

GARRETT MASON
Humboldt Broncos, G


The Humboldt Broncos appeared to have great scoring depth heading into the season, and one of their off-season moves including shoring up at the goaltending position, acquiring 20-year-old Garrett Mason from the AJHL's Whitecourt Wolverines.  Mason split time between Whitecourt, Spruce Grove and Drayton Valley last year, but combined to have five regular season shutouts.  He allowed just five goals on opening weekend, helping the Broncos to a home and home sweep over the Notre Dame Hounds.

The SJHL congratulates our three alumni members of the Frozen Four Champion University Of North Dakota Fighting Hawks!

Coltyn Sanderson (F)
Weyburn Red Wings / UND


Much like his former Weyburn linemate Jesse Ross, who won a Canada West championship with the U of S this season, Sanderson played his first season of junior playing Junior 'B'.  Sanderson's 18-year-old season was spent with the PJHL's Assiniboia Southern Rebels.  He would join the Red Wings full time the following year, and captain them to a Sherwood Conference championship as a 20-year-old, putting up 81 points (32g-49a) in 57 games.  Sanderson had 12-points in 35-games in his senior year at UND.

Matt Hrynkiw (G)
Humboldt Broncos / UND


Hrynkiw and the Broncos beat Sanderson and the Red Wings in the 2012 Final, the year the Broncos hosted the RBC Cup.  Now, they shared in an NCAA Frozen Four title together at UND.  The Broncos lost in the final to Yorkton in 2013, Hrynkiw's final SJHL season, but that year he posted a 1.83 GAA and .939%.  With the Fighting Hawks this season, Hrynkiw went 10-2-2, 2.13 GAA, .910% and two shutouts.

Danys Chartrand (D)
Flin Flon Bombers / UND


With a veteran-laden club that won it all, Chartrand didn't see any regular season or Frozen Four action with UND this season, but should be poised to crack the lineup full time in the fall.  The Winnipeg product played 146 SJHL games, all with the Bombers, putting up 50 points.  Chartrand will no doubt be paying close attention to his former teammates as they battle the defending champion Melfort Mustangs in the SJHL Canalta Cup Final.