The Melville Millionaires have struggled out of the gate for the current Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season and despite recording just two wins in their first 13 outings there have been some encouraging signs with one of those being the play of 18-year-old rookie winger Jaxon Tait.
The homegrown product has two goals and four assists in the 12 games he has played in and at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds he provides a physical presence as evidenced by his 25 minutes in penalties.
Tait started the season with points in each of his first three games and recently he has returned to the scoresheet with a pair of points and 15 penalty minutes in the last three games the Millionaires have played.
Tait spent last season with the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League where he appeared in every game and amassed 26 points on 10 goals and 16 assists. Tait also displayed his physical abilities in Prince Albert picking up 60 minutes in penalties.
As a 16-year-old, Tait had a breakout season scoring 48 points and collecting 93 minutes in penalties in 34 games with the Melville Midget AA Millionaires. Tait also saw action in a pair of Prairie Junior Hockey League games with Fort Knox where he registered a goal and an assist.
His performance that season came out of nowhere as the previous year he had just 10 points in 38 games with the Midget AA Millionaires.
The Millionaires have some ground to make up, but despite the slow start they are still within striking distance of catching those ahead of them in the Viterra Division standings. With building blocks like Tait in place it is only a matter of time before Melville starts making a move upwards.
The La Ronge Ice Wolves got a glimpse into what the future might hold when they summoned defenceman Dylan Thackeray for five games last year and from that brief audition, in which he collected a pair of assists, the team was obviously pleased with what it saw.
So far, the 18-year-old from White City, Sask., hasn’t disappointed.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Thackeray scored his first ever Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League goal last weekend and that marker, along with his six assists, means that the freshman has been involved in more than 20 percent of all of the Ice Wolves’ offence this season.
Thackeray spent the last two years with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League and during that span, in which he never missed a regular-season tilt, he accumulated nine goals and 39 helpers. As a 15-year-old Thackeray toiled with the Prairie Storm, a Midget AA squad, and in 38 games he registered impressive 4-19-23 totals.
The Ice Wolves are looking to improve on their 10-win season from a year ago and so far with four victories in 13 starts they appear to be well on their way to do that. However, with key additions like Thackeray the team undoubtedly has loftier goals and his improved play will only benefit the club not just this season, but for as much as two more years as well.