There was a little bit of everything during the first week of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s regular schedule. Some of it was spectacular; some of it made the national news.
Nipawin Hawks’ goaltender Ethan Slobodzian turned in a perfect performance stopping all 51 shots he faced in helping the Hawks post back-to-back 3-0 victories over the Melfort Mustangs and in the process gave Nipawin head coach and general manager Doug Johnson 300 career victories – the most in franchise history.
Donavan Houle-Villeneuve accounted for more than half of the Flin Flon Bombers’ offence when he scored five times and set up one other in the Bombers’ sweep of the La Ronge Ice Wolves and the Melville Millionaires’ tandem of Nic Porterfield and Luke Nkwama also lit the lamp five times each to give Melville the early Viterra Division lead as the Millionaires collected five of a possible six points in their first three outings.
All of that was overshadowed by an incident late in Saturday’s game between Melville and the Yorkton Terriers, however, when Terrier forward Greg Mulhall ran over Melville goaltender Berk Berkeliev with a crushing check sending the Millionaire netminder to the hospital and sidelining him indefinitely. Mulhall was suspended for 25 games by the league’s disciplinary committee, a sentence that is believed to be the longest in league history.
The second week of the schedule will be just as exciting although it is hoped the disciplinary committee won’t be needed as a full slate of weekend games precedes the annual Showcase that begins on Sunday in Warman.
Friday’s action features three of the four undefeated teams looking to continue with their hot starts as Flin Flon hosts the Humboldt Broncos, Nipawin travels to La Ronge and the Notre Dame Hounds pay a visit to Yorkton. The other club that has yet to have a blemish on its record is the defending league champion Battlefords North Stars and they get back to work on Saturday when they host the Estevan Bruins.
Just two clubs have yet to pick up a point with La Ronge off to an 0-3 start while the Kindersley Klippers are 0-2 after being swept by the Battlefords last weekend. The Ice Wolves have their hands full as they will also travel to Nipawin on Saturday to complete a home-and-home set with the Hawks while the Klippers will entertain both Estevan and the Weyburn Red Wings this weekend.
Following Saturday’s slate of games, the action will switch to Warman on Sunday when the Showcase begins at 1 p.m. with a tilt between Melfort and Notre Dame. The Showcase is a four-day event held at the centrally-situated Legends Centre to accommodate what is expected to be a large collection of scouts from various levels of hockey. The primary purpose of the event is to give the players an opportunity to showcase their talents in the hopes of securing a future home to advance their playing or education careers – or both.
Each team will play a pair of games over the four days with all matches counting in the regular-season standings. A second showcase will be held in January in Regina with that event pitting players from the SJHL against their counterparts from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
It is also hoped that fans take in the event as ticket prices are very affordable with day passes costing just $10 and children admitted free of charge. The SJHL is quickly becoming one of the premiere Junior “A” leagues in the country and this is a great opportunity for fans of all ages to see all of the teams in one location.
Humboldt at Flin Flon
Nipawin at La Ronge
Melfort at Melville
Notre Dame at Yorkton
Estevan at Kindersley
Humboldt at Flin Flon
La Ronge at Nipawin
Weyburn at Kindersley
Estevan at Battlefords
Showcase Schedule-Legend’s Centre in Warman
Melfort vs. Notre Dame – 1 p.m.
La Ronge vs. Kindersley – 4 p.m.
Weyburn vs. Battlefords – 7 p.m.
Estevan vs. Humboldt – 1 p.m.
Notre Dame vs. Nipawin – 4 p.m.
Flin Flon vs. Weyburn – 7 p.m.
Yorkton vs. Melfort – 10 a.m.
Battlefords vs. Flin Flon – 1 p.m.
Kindersley vs. Estevan – 4 p.m.
Nipawin vs. Melville – 7 p.m.
Humboldt vs. Yorkton – 11 a.m.
Melville vs. La Ronge – 2 p.m.