Notre Dame Hounds (D)
The Notre Dame Hounds are one of the most improved teams in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League this year and newcomer Evan Werle has been a big factor in the turnaround.
The 17-year-old Langenburg, Sask., product has helped the Hounds lower their goals-against by more than 40 goals from a year ago while contributing nine goals and adding 13 assists in 49 games in his rookie campaign.
At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds he isn’t built like your prototypical defenceman, but Werle has played in all key roles and as a result is a finalist for rookie of the year honours.
Still eligible to play at the Midget AAA level, Werle spent the last two seasons with the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s Notre Dame Argos and as a 15-year-old had four goals and 13 helpers in 42 games while last year he tallied nine goals and 18 assists in 41 games and helped the Argos capture the league championship. In nine playoff games, which also included an appearance in the Western Canadian regional championship, Werle had eight points on three goals and five assists.
An 11th-round selection of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2012 Western Hockey League bantam draft, Werle has a bright future and with three more years of junior eligibility remaining it will be exciting to watch him develop his skills even further.
For now, the Hounds are counting on him to take them deep into the playoffs and Werle appears to be ready to take on any role given him.
Flin Flon Bombers (D)
As is often the case with teams that have explosive offensive players the steady stay-at-home defensive gems get lost in the shuffle and that argument certainly can be made for Flin Flon Bomber rearguard Rob Cameron.
With the Bombers sharing the league lead in goals scored with the Melfort Mustangs entering the final weekend of the regular season it is easy to look at the stats and see those who have lit the lamp on a regular basis.
What doesn’t jump out at most, however, is a player like Cameron who has appeared in every Bomber game this year and was also a regular in 53 games during his rookie Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League campaign a year ago.
The 19-year-old Cameron has just one goal in those 100-plus games, but he has been a pillar on the blueline and will be leaned on even more when the playoffs bring out a different style of game.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound product of Saskatoon has never been a huge offensive threat, but he has been a consistent defender ever since cracking the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League line-up of the Saskatoon Blazers at the age of 15.
Cameron played in all 44 games during that rookie campaign and notched one goal and four assists and the following year, despite being limited to just 30 games, more than doubled that output with a goal and 10 helpers. In his final year with the Blazers he ramped it up even higher scoring five times and setting up 12 others while playing in all 44 regular-season tilts.
Drafted by the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings in the sixth round of the 2010 bantam draft, Cameron made a smooth transition to Flin Flon last year where he collected 13 assists and even though his output has declined this year (1-6-7) he has been a steady influence on the back-end.
With one more year of junior eligibility Cameron will certainly be a building block for next year, but for now he is focused on helping the Bombers finish as high as possible in the standings and go deep into the playoffs.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (G)
If the La Ronge Ice Wolves hope to return to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s post-season for the first time in three years they are going to have to get some quality netminding and that is exactly what Kris Joyce has been providing.
Joyce, who has been sharing the goaltending duties with Austin Rediron for most of the season, has won three of his last four starts to help the Ice Wolves climb to within two points of the Weyburn Red Wings for the 10th and final playoff berth.
The 19-year-old Joyce is in his first season in the SJHL and in 24 appearances with the Ice Wolves has a 9-10-0-2 record to go with a 3.17 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds there is a lot of Joyce to fill the net and he is going to have to use all of that hulking frame in his remaining starts to help La Ronge climb in the standings and move on to the post-season.
The product of Prince George, B.C., joined the Ice Wolves after two productive seasons with the Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. As a 17-year-old in 2012-13 Joyce appeared in 26 games with the Eagles posting 2.75 GAA and .919 save percentage while also getting his first taste of Junior “A” action with one game with Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League. Unfortunately it wasn’t a game to remember for Joyce as he managed to stop just 75 per cent of the shots he faced while being saddled with a 7.82 GAA.
Joyce rebounded the following year with a strong showing once again with Sicamous as he won the league award for best save percentage having put up a .933 result. Joyce also had a sparkling 2.68 GAA in his 22 games and also appeared in four more matches for the Eagles during the playoffs.
The Ice Wolves were in need of two new goaltenders at the start of the year and both Joyce and Rediron have performed admirably. With Rediron graduating at the end of this season the starting position could be Joyce’s next year and his play down the stretch from hereon in, when called upon, could go a long way in cementing that role.
Battlefords North Stars (LW)
Size doesn’t always matter, but perseverance sure does!
Matthew Havens is another example of a player never giving up as he has been a regular with the Battlefords North Stars this year despite having very little experience at higher levels prior to this campaign.
The 5-foot-8, 155-pound winger from St. Albert, Alta., made the jump to Junior “A” this year after basically bypassing Midget AAA as the 18-year-old only saw action in four games with the St. Albert Raiders last season.
Havens, who has four goals and 14 assists in 48 games with the North Stars this year - in addition to a pair of shootout goals that won games for the club - spent the majority of the previous two campaigns playing Midget AA hockey with a St. Albert squad. While his performance at Midget AA was exceptional – he had 62 points in 29 games as a 16-year-old and 36 more in 11 games last year – he never really got a shot to move up even though he did score twice in his four games with the Raiders.
His past scoring exploits, which also included 31 points in 30 games during his final year of bantam hockey in 2010-11 and 40 points in 38 games at the minor midget level as a 15-year-old, were good enough, however, to get him invited to the Battlefords this year and he has worked hard to stay with the team and ultimately contribute.
While he hasn’t produced at his point-per-game-or-better clip as in the past, Havens has continued to improve throughout the year and should be someone to watch for two more seasons. His desire and willingness to play the game will certainly also help the North Stars in their stretch run and impending playoff appearance.
Kindersley Klippers (C)
There are two things that stand out for Kindersley Klipper forward Marc Dubeau. The first is his size as the 20-year-old centre stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 202 pounds. The second is his scoring ability, especially of late, as the St. Lina, Alta., product has put together a 17-game point-scoring streak – the longest in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League this season by quite a margin.
Dubeau has nine goals and 14 assists during his recent hot streak giving him 12-23-35 totals for the season – career bests in all categories.
This is Dubeau’s second year with the Klippers after he was acquired in early October of 2013 in a deal that sent Troy Gedny to the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Bonnyville Pontiacs. Dubeau played in 53 games for Kindersley last season scoring nine times and setting up 17 others.
With Bonnyville, Dubeau had four assists in seven games to start the 2013-14 campaign before being moved to Kindersley. In his one full season with the Pontiacs in 2012-13 the towering forward had 10 goals and 11 assists in 48 games.
While his offensive numbers don’t stop you in your tracks – with the exception of the incredible ride he is currently on - his rise to the Junior “A” level certainly does. In his first year of midget hockey he played at the minor level with a club team before spending a season in Midget “C” as a 16-year-old. In his final year of midget hockey he really took off scoring 42 goals and assisting on 44 others in just 31 games with the Northeast Midget AA Panthers.
Having never played at the Midget AAA level, a general stepping stone before moving on to the junior ranks, Dubeau has shown that given time and patience he can become a real contributor to whatever team he is on. The Klippers are certainly seeing that this year and his recent exploits have helped Kindersley challenge for top spot overall.
With his junior career winding down Dubeau will be looking to extend it as far as possible. A first-round setback last year to Melville ended his initial foray in the SJHL postseason earlier than expected, but if he continues to play at his current level the Klippers could have a long run this time around.
Melfort Mustangs (LW)
Despite being one of the younger players in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Dakota Boutin already has an impressive resume.
The 17-year-old forward with the Melfort Mustangs has a national championship to his credit as his goal in triple overtime last spring helped the Prince Albert Mintos claim their third Telus Cup title in nine years.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Moosomin, Sask., product is also a third-round bantam pick of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings (his rights were traded to the Saskatoon Blades last fall) and he has also been selected in the United States Hockey League draft when he went to the Tri-City Storm in 2013.
Boutin, who could have played another year of midget hockey this season, opted to move to the junior level and his 11 goals and 13 assists in 43 games have helped the Mustangs move to the top of the standings. Boutin has also brought some grit to his game as he has also accumulated 106 minutes in penalties to easily lead the team in that category.
Prior to moving to Melfort last fall Boutin experienced a bit of a roller-coaster season as he started last year with the Moose Jaw Generals of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League before leaving the club and being picked up by the Mintos. He then suffered an injury early in his stint in Prince Albert and never really found his groove again until the post-season. Boutin had eight goals and five assists in 11 games with the Generals and then averaged a point-per-game with the Mintos (5-8-13 in 13 games), but in the playoffs he had nine points in eight league post-season tilts, two more in four games at the Western Regional championship and then three goals and three assists in seven games at the Telus Cup including the championship-clincher in the tournament’s longest game ever played.
Boutin also had some pretty impressive credentials leading up to Midget AAA as he scored 24 goals and set up 24 others in 19 games with the Melville Bantam AA club as a 14-year-old and he also got his first taste of Midget AAA that season playing in four games with the Yorkton Harvest. Boutin, however, landed in Moose Jaw as a 15-year-old and in 35 games with the Generals had eight goals and 11 helpers.
With three more years of junior eligibility remaining it will be interesting to see where his career takes him. For now he is helping the Mustangs challenge for a league title and if he decides to stay in Melfort he could be a cornerstone for that organization for a long time.
Weyburn Red Wings (G)
His playing career has steadily moved him east, and south, but Jack Burgart appears to have settled in nicely in Weyburn.
Having played his minor hockey in Fort St. James, B.C., including a pair of seasons of midget hockey in his hometown, the 19-year-old Burgart began his travels with a stop in Merrit of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League before landing in Princeton, B.C., for a season in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
From there the 6-foot-4, 205-pound netminder headed to Weyburn where as an 18-year-old he spent most of the season as a back-up to rookie sensation Rylan Parenteau. Although he did get into 19 games last year it is this season where he has broken through and is a big reason why the Red Wings are challenging for first place in the Viterra Division.
While his numbers in the two previous seasons were decent – 2.71 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 29 games with Princeton and 3.25 GAA and .900 save percentage last year in Weyburn – this year they are spectacular.
In 28 games with the Red Wings this season Burgart has a 2.38 GAA and .930 save percentage and he shares the league lead in shutouts with four. He has also made an astonishing 873 saves which is third-best behind just Evan Weniniger of Kindersley and Joe O’Brien of Nipawin.
Every night Burgart gives the Red Wings a chance to win and after watching Parenteau get Weyburn to within a single point of qualifying for the post-season last year, he is on pace to take the club the next step and get them into the playoffs for the first time in three years.
With one more year of eligibility the Red Wings certainly have a nice cornerstone in place as the club continues to turn things around and get back to the upper echelon of the league.
Humboldt Broncos (C)
He is small in stature, but he certainly brings a lot of different aspects to the Humboldt Broncos’ line-up.
Austin Duzan is just 5-foot-7 and weighs in at 160 pounds and while he is a bit smallish, he does play a big-man game.
All through his career, whether it is in junior or Midget AAA, Duzan has not shied away from getting his nose dirty. In 33 games with Humboldt this season the 19-year-old Saskatoon product has 22 minutes in penalties and last season with the Broncos he had 30 minutes in 39 games. With the Battlefords Stars of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, Duzan accumulated 129 penalty minutes in 80 regular-season games.
Duzan rounds out his game by also being able to put the puck in the net.
The sophomore centre has already surpassed his rookie totals having notched six goals and seven assists while last year Duzan netted seven markers and set up three others. In his final year of Midget AAA in the Battlefords, Duzan tallied 19 goals and collected 16 assists which more than tripled his output as a 16-year-old when he had four goals and seven assists in 38 games with the Stars.
Duzan saw 10 games of action at the Midget AAA level as a 15-year-old, but he only garnered one assist in that span while playing with the Saskatoon Contacts. Prior to that he was one of the top bantam players in the province often considered for provincial squads with Saskatchewan’s elite at that age group.
Duzan’s continued improvement should help the Broncos make a push for the playoffs and with one more year of junior eligibility will undoubtedly be someone the club looks to for leadership and production next year.
Melville Millionaires (C)
It has taken Dalton Menke some time to find a home in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, but it looks like the 19-year-old centre from Shamrock, Sask., has found one with the Melville Millionaires.
The 6-foot, 175-pound Menke began his junior career with the Yorkton Terriers at the start of the 2013-14 campaign, but after 24 games was sent to the Flin Flon Bombers as part of the Brett Boehm deal. Menke finished the year in Flin Flon dressing in 28 games, but just before the start of this season he was shipped to Melville for Michael Knaub and it looks like the Millionaires are a perfect fit.
Menke enters the second half of the SJHL season riding a three-game point-scoring streak where he has four goals and two assists in that span. That outburst prior to the Christmas break gives Menke eight goals and 10 assists on the season, which is already more than he had all last year with Yorkton and Flin Flon combined (8-7-15 in 52 games).
Menke has a history of finding the net once he adjusts to a new level of hockey as he had 27 goals and 29 assists in 36 games with the Swift Current Midget AA club when he was 16 and then tailed off somewhat the following season when he played 31 games at the Midget AAA level with the Tisdale Trojans. Menke managed just six goals and six assists with the Trojans before making the jump to junior with Yorkton where again he had a period of adjustment.
Now that he has found a home and is comfortable with the way the game is played in junior, Menke should be someone the Millionaires can count on as they push towards a Viterra Division championship.
With another season of eligibility remaining, Menke has a lot to offer and should only get more comfortable, and productive, in his new surroundings.
Nipawin Hawks (RW)
When the Nipawin Hawks traded their second-leading scorer from last year, Tayler Balog, to the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Grand Prairie Storm prior to the start of this season little did they know that they were getting a diamond-in-the-rough in return.
Chase Thudium has exceeded all expectations since arriving in Nipawin as the 18-year-old forward leads the team in scoring through 33 games with 16 goals and 17 assists and is a big reason why the Hawks have the third-best record at the break (21-8-2-2).
The 5-foot-10, 176-pound winger from Sylvan Lake didn’t possess a real strong offensive pedigree when he was acquired in the fall, but he certainly has adapted to the SJHL in a short period of time.
Thudium, who is two years younger than Balog, played 57 games with the Storm last year and as a 17-year-old scored just eight goals and added eight assists. Thudium does know how to win, however, as he was a part of the 2013 Telus Cup champion Red Deer Chiefs where he had 10 goals and 11 assists in 34 regular-season games and added six more points in the playoffs before collecting three goals and six helpers in the week-long national midget championship tournament.
Prior to making the leap to Midget AAA as a 16-year-old, Thudium spent a season playing minor midget hockey in Red Deer and as a 14 year-old averaged more than a point-per-game (17-20-37 in 33 games) with the Bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels. Thudium also competed in the Alberta Cup that season and had two goals and one assist in five games.
The Hawks gained a player who will be around for a couple extra years by acquiring Thudium and by the looks of things he will be a player they can lean on to provide plenty of offence.
Estevan Bruins (C)
The Estevan Bruins have something extra to strive for now that they are the official hosts of the 2016 Western Canada Cup and one of their building blocks for that championship is sure to be forward Lynden Pastachak.
While not giving up on this season, the Bruins will be counting on the 18-year-old Pastachak both now and in future seasons.
The Bienfait product is in his second year with the Bruins and already has reached a career high in points as the 6-foot, 165-pound centre has 16 points in 24 games. Last year Pastachak had 12 points in 36 games with the Bruins although he did appear to find his range in the post-season when he recorded four goals and an assist in 10 matches.
Prior to joining the Bruins, Pastachak toiled with the Yorkton Harvest for two seasons in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Pastachak showed great offensive skills during his time in Yorkton scoring 16 goals and setting up 15 others as a 15-year-old and the next season he nearly doubled all those categories as he had 29 goals and 29 assists in 42 games. That strong final year of Midget AAA garnered Pastachak second-team all-star status.
While he might be a bit slight he certainly has an edge to his game as Pastachak accumulated 93 penalty minutes while in Yorkton and so far in 62 games in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League he has amassed 89 minutes in penalties.
Pastachak was recently listed as one of eight SJHL players to be invited to try out for the Canada West squad that will compete at the World Junior “A” Challenge in Kindersley later this month. That recognition is well deserved and the Bruins will be counting on him now and well into the future to continue leading with his improved play.
Yorkton Terriers (D)
It is a rare occasion when a player by-passes one level and climbs a couple of rungs on the hockey ladder, but Regan Seiferling is proof that it can indeed happen.
With just eight games of Midget AAA experience over two years, Seiferling has made a rather smooth transition from Midget AA to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League as the 17-year-old has secured a spot on the Yorkton Terriers’ blueline.
A native of Moose Jaw, the 6-foot-2, 160-pound Seiferling has three goals and eight assists in his first 24 games of junior hockey – totals he barely surpassed while playing Midget AA in Moose Jaw the last two seasons.
As a 15-year-old in the 2012-13 campaign Seiferling dressed in 33 games for the Midget Warriors scoring five times and setting up 10 others. He also saw action in four contests with the Midget AAA Moose Jaw Generals collecting one assist.
The following season he scored another five goals while assisting on 19 more in 35 games and once again dressed for four contests with the Generals matching his point total with a single assist.
Even in his final year of bantam hockey in 2011-12 he wasn’t a real threat offensively as he had just 11 points in 22 games, but it is obvious his game has adjusted to the level in which he is playing at as he has become a big contributor with the defending RBC Cup champions.
The Terriers’ backend was heavily depleted after capturing the national championship last spring and that opened the door for Seiferling – a door that has not slammed in his face.
With three more years of junior eligibility remaining, and some filling in to do from a physical perspective, Seiferling looks to be a player the Terriers can build around and if he continues to make leaps up the ladder at his current pace then it should be a good arrangement for both player and team.
Notre Dame Hounds (D)
The Notre Dame Hounds appear to have a defenceman who is the complete package.
Spencer Trapp, a soon-to-be 19 year-old (his birthday is Nov. 24), is big, strong and productive. And, he has a mean streak!
The White City, Sask. product is in his second season with the SJHL version of the Hounds and his six goals and five assists in the first 22 games are one of the reasons why Notre Dame is the most improved club this year.
At 6-foot-0 and 190 pounds, Trapp is a huge presence on the Notre Dame blueline and throw in his 72 minutes in penalties so far this year he also commands a lot of space in front of the Hounds’ goal.
One more attribute that can’t be overlooked is Trapp is durable as he has yet to miss a game in his SJHL career having played all 56 regular-season contests last year and nine more in the playoffs in addition to the full slate so far this campaign.
Trapp has been in Wilcox for five seasons now having first donned the red and white jerseys in 2010-11 as a 15-year-old playing Midget AA. Trapp played in 18 games that first season scoring once and adding seven assists before moving up to the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League the next year. In his rookie season of Midget AAA Trapp played in 43 games and scored three times while setting up 11 others while the next year he bumped those totals to 7-24-31, also in 43 games. His physical play was also evident at the lower level as he had 102 minutes in penalties in his 86 regular-season games.
Trapp got his first taste of junior hockey when he was 17, but he was held off the scoresheet in his one game with the Hounds. The stage was set, however, for him to make a permanent move last year where he continued to show his complete-game package by scoring four times, adding 26 assists and collecting 30 minutes in penalties.
Trapp still has one more year of junior eligibility remaining and his continued improvement at both ends of the rink gives Notre Dame a very good building block to continue making a move up in the standings.
A recent tweet received by the league indicates it will also be Trapp’s last with the Hounds as he has signed a letter of intent to play with the College of the Holy Cross for 2015-16. This is certainly a birthday he will never forget.
Flin Flon Bombers (RW)
Having just turned 19 on Nov. 20, Brandon Switzer has already seen a good chunk of Western Canada, but it looks like he might have found a home with the Flin Flon Bombers.
The Brandon, Man., native was recently acquired from the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and in his first three games with the Bombers collected three goals and added two assists.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound right winger has had no trouble finding the back of the net wherever he has played.
As a 15-year-old Switzer cracked the line-up of the Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings and in 43 games scored eight times and set up seven others. The following year he was named an alternate captain and he responded with 18 goals and 18 assists in just 33 games. In his final season of Midget AAA, Switzer was dominant scoring 23 times and assisting on 38 others in 43 games. He also had five goals and five assists in seven playoff games to set the table for a move to the junior level.
Having played a pair of games with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s OCN Blizzard and one more with the Neepawa Natives while toiling with the Wheat Kings, he found his rights heading to Whitecourt for the 2013-14 season. In 55 games last year with the Wolverines, Switzer recorded 12 goals and 14 assists to go with 101 penalty minutes. Switzer was off and running this year in Whitecourt scoring nine times and setting up 12 others in 22 games before Flin Flon head coach and general manager Mike Reagan pulled off a deal that sent Erik Pedersen, who was also averaging nearly a point a game, heading west in exchange for the productive Switzer.
Switzer’s arrival has coincided with Flin Flon going on a bit of a tear and with his past history Switzer should be able to bolster the Bomber offence for the remainder of this year and one more of year of junior eligibility next season.
Battlefords North Stars (C)
Despite being undersized, Jake McMillen is a durable centre. And, he can score!
Standing 6-foot-0, but weighing in at just 150 pounds, McMillen has missed just a handful of games in his two full seasons with the Battlefords North Stars. The 19-year-old product from Carievale, Sask. has proven that one does not have to be a hulking specimen to accumulate points, but rather just use your skills to get your name on the scoresheet.
McMillen first joined the North Stars in the fall of 2012 as a 17-year-old and in 53 games as a rookie scored 14 goals and added 16 assists. In his sophomore campaign, McMillen matched his point total from the previous season only this time he found the back of the net 17 times himself and set up 13 others.
So far this year, McMillen has three goals and three assists in 10 games, but his talents should help him surpass his previous career best with relative ease.
Prior to joining the North Stars, McMillen played in 26 games with the Yorkton Harvest of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League where he netted 13 goals and collected 10 assists during the 2011-12 campaign.
McMillen also had 13 goals in his one season with the Midget AA Estevan Bruins when as a 15-year-old he played in 38 games and amassed a total of 33 points (13-20-33).
McMillen has had to rely on his skill wherever he has played and that pattern will certainly continue for the remainder of this campaign and next year when he completes his junior eligibility.
La Ronge Ice Wolves (RW)
Two years ago, when Jared Blaquiere was just 16 years old, he was one of the final cuts from the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. What made that so disheartening was that it denied him the chance to play with his older brother Joel, who had already secured a spot on the club.
The younger Blaquiere then went back to Midget AA and played with the West Central Red Wings and last year made the jump to the Mintos even though his older sibling had graduated from the midget ranks and failed to secure a spot in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
Fast forward to 2014-15 and both Blaquieres have moved up to the SJHL and finally they are playing together, this time with the LaRonge Ice Wolves.
One major accomplishment separates the two, however. While Joel Blaquiere helped the Mintos reach the league final in his one season in Prince Albert (they lost a heart-breaking 3-1 decision to the Saskatoon Contacts in the decisive game), Jared was instrumental in helping the Mintos capture that franchise’s third Telus Cup in nine seasons when Prince Albert won a thrilling triple-overtime contest last spring in Moose Jaw.
Jared Blaquiere, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound right winger from Edam, Sask., has caught on at the new level having scored three times and set up three others in 11 games with the Ice Wolves this year.
Jared Blaquiere played in every game with the Mintos last season scoring eight times and adding 13 assists in 44 regular-season games and another two goals and five helpers in 11 championship games, which included four in the western regional event held in Prince Albert and seven more at the Telus Cup in Moose Jaw.
When Jared Blaquiere was sent back to Midget AA in 2012 he did not throw in the towel, but instead finished second in team scoring (behind Reed Delainey who is now with the Battlefords North Stars) with the Red Wings when he picked up 16 goals and 20 assists.
Jared Blaquiere has proven he is a winner and a determined young man who can only make the Ice Wolves a better team. With two more years of junior eligibility remaining after this season it will be interesting to see how far he progresses in his development and contribution to the team.
Kindersley Klippers (RW)
The final piece to a long-ago trade is paying huge dividends for the Kindersley Klippers.
Devin Case was the future considerations in a Jan. 10, 2013, deal between the Klippers and Grand Prairie Storm and since arriving in Saskatchewan the 5-foot-8, 160-pound right winger has felt right at home.
The 20-year-old product from Yellowknife, NWT, arrived in Kindersley prior to the start of the 2013-14 campaign and in 44 games with the Klippers last year scored 10 goals and set up 14 others. This year Case is leading the team in scoring in the early stages of the regular season having notched three goals and setting up five others in the first six games.
This isn’t Case’s first taste of SJHL action as he played a pair of games with the Notre Dame Hounds in 2011-12 while also toiling with the Notre Dame Argos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Case first came to Notre Dame as a 16-year-old when he scored two goals in two games with the Argos and in his one full season of Midget AAA action he netted 15 goals and collected 36 assists in 43 games.
His first year of junior hockey saw him head west to Grand Prairie where he played a full 56-game slate with the Grand Prairie Storm, but after posting just 5-8-13 totals he was deemed expendable to complete the earlier deal that saw Brett Printz move from Kindersley to northern Alberta.
Case brings plenty of experience and leadership to a Klippers squad that is looking to move deeper into the playoffs next spring. His quick start to his final year of junior eligibility is certain to be what the team was looking for.
Melfort Mustangs (F)
His name definitely stands out and it also looks like his play is being noticed as Dawven Berggren is off to a great start in his second season with the Melfort Mustangs.
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound rearguard is halfway to equalling his total point production from his rookie campaign and the season is just 10 games old for the much-improved Mustangs.
The 19-year-old product from Saskatoon has six assists in the early stages of his sophomore season while last year he tallied one goal and 11 helpers in 45 matches. The former ninth-round bantam draft pick of the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels never has been a player to put up big numbers, but his defensive play has always been consistent which is a big reason why he has always succeeded at every level he plays at.
Prior to joining the Mustangs last year, Berggren spent two seasons with the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s Tisdale Trojans where he scored three times and added 22 assists in 70 games over that span. Berggren also played 10 games at the Midget AAA level as a 15-year-old when he collected one assist with the Saskatoon Contacts.
With another full season of eligibility remaining after this year, Berggren will undoubtedly continue to improve and provide the Mustangs with a solid stay-at-home presence, a trait that is often overlooked, but very valuable to dictate team success.
Weyburn Red Wings (C)
Ian Parker is someone who can’t be easily missed.
Standing at 6-foot-7 and weighing in at 207 pounds the rookie centre for the Weyburn Red Wings is an imposing figure and from his early start in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League he is also someone who should help the Red Wings put the puck in the opposition’s net.
The 18-year-old centre from Saskatoon has two goals and two assists in his first five games in the SJHL in addition to collecting six penalty minutes which follows his form from his one season in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
Last year, while playing with the Saskatoon Contacts, Parker had nine goals and eight assists in 42 games, but he also provided some grit to the line-up as he registered 75 minutes in penalties.
Prior to playing with the Contacts, Parker toiled with a team in Seattle and this past summer was selected in the 11th round of the United States Hockey League draft by the Des Moines Buccaneers.
Weyburn is certainly happy he decided to remain in Saskatchewan and with two more seasons of junior eligibility remaining after this year he most certainly should continue to grow both in size and in skill development.
Humboldt Broncos (D)
If the early returns are any indication, Connor Swystun has adjusted nicely to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
The 18-year-old Saskatoon product is in his second season with the Humboldt Broncos and after registering just one assist in 50 games during his rookie campaign a year ago the 5-foot-10, 170-pound defenceman has already tripled that output after just five games in the 2014-15 season having scored once and set up two others.
His quick start should not be too surprising as Swystun had a goal and three assists in 10 playoff games last spring and prior to joining the Broncos was a consistent threat in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
Swystun got his first taste of Midget AAA as a 14-year-old when he played three games with the Saskatoon Blazers. While he was held off the scoresheet in that audition it did give him experience for the next two seasons when he tallied three goals and five assists in 27 games as a 15-year-old and then followed that up with 3-13-16 totals in 44 games during his sophomore campaign.
Swystun has already attended a number of Western Hockey League training camps with the Saskatoon Blades and with two more years of junior eligibility remaining after this season he should be able to continue to move forward in his career and be an anchor on the blueline.
Nipawin Hawks (RW)
As a rookie winger, Keegan Kjargaard brings a lot to the table for the Nipawin Hawks.
The 18-year-old Prince Albert product is coming off a national championship season as he was instrumental in helping the Mintos capture the Telus Cup title last April in Moose Jaw. Kjargaard also starred in the classroom as he was a finalist for an Esso Scholarship presented during the Western Regional tournament played in Prince Albert prior to the national event.
At 5-foot-9 and 167 pounds Kjargaard brings to the Hawks a lot of speed and tenacity around the puck. In 43 regular-season games with the Mintos last year Kjargaard had 14 goals and 28 assists while adding three assists in four Western Regional tilts and two goals and two helpers in the gruelling week-long Telus Cup tournament.
Those numbers were a huge improvement from his rookie campaign with the Mintos in 2012-13 where he netted just four goals and added six assists in the same amount of regular-season games.
Kjargaard got his first taste of Junior “A” hockey last season when he scored once in two appearances with the Hawks and while he has just one assist in his first two games this year, Nipawin has a player who will show up every night and once he gets accustomed to the level of play he should be someone that is counted on in many key situations.
Melville Millionaires (RW)
If Reed Murray picks up where his season ended last year the Melville Millionaires should have no worries about putting the puck in the net.
The 20-year-old Calgary native had five goals in Melville’s playoff run to the league final last spring and while that might not sound like much it was nearly half of what he scored in the regular season in a quarter as many games.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound winger had five goals and three assists in the 12 Millionaire playoff contests while in 51 regular-season games he notched 13 tallies and set up 19 others in his first tour of the SJHL.
Murray had previously played a dozen Junior “A” games when he suited up for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Canucks in 2012-13, but he spent most of that year playing Junior “B” in his hometown before relocating to Saskatchewan as a 19-year-old.
In his final year of midget eligibility in 2011-12 Murray toiled with the Calgary Buffaloes of the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League and in 34 games recorded nine goals and nine assists. He also got in three games with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles, but was held off the scoresheet.
Already having recorded a pair of assists in Melville’s first two games this year, Murray is expected to put up some good numbers and the Millionaires will be looking to him to provide some valuable leadership as well as he tries to help that franchise win its first championship in his final year at the junior level.