By Craig Stein
A Shutout, A Shootout, Hat Tricks, & Plenty Of Goals
For the second straight game to open the SJHL season, the Humboldt Broncos heavily out-shot the Nipawin Hawks, but 20-year-old goaltender Declan Hobbs posted his second stellar performance in as many starts, this time a 49-save shutout on Saturday as the Hawks blanked Humboldt 4-0 in Nipawin’s home opener at the Cage.
Hobbs allowed one goal Wednesday in Humboldt, stopping 88/89 shots in the two contests, good for an 0.50 GAA and a .989% early on.
Arik Breton had two goals and an assist for the Hawks on Saturday, and now has a league-leading (tied) four points on the season. Humboldt’s Dane Dow stopped 24/28 shots in the loss.
Heading into the season, anyone who paid any attention last year would have predicted the Weyburn Red Wings shouldn’t have a lot of trouble scoring, with such a strong returning class of forwards.
The trio of Ben Hiltz, Jordan Kazymyra and Cade Kowalski wasted absolutely no time making an impact, combining for 11 points in a come-from-behind 6-4 win over the visiting Yorkton Terriers.
Yorkton led the game 3-1 with just over a minute to go in the second period, and 4-3 late in the third before the Wings struck three times in just over five minutes. Kazymyra had the hat trick, while Hiltz (2g-2a) and Kowalski (1g-3a) each had four point nights. Khale Skinner added two assists and Riley Lamb made 44/48 saves in his first SJHL action after joining the Wings from the WHL.
Jared Legien had three assists for the Terriers, who got off to a quick start. Greg Mulhall, Colby Brandt, Branden Klatt and Cody Bruchkowski did the scoring.
The Wings and Terriers aren’t playing their typical opening weekend home-and-home this season. They’re both off for the rest of the weekend. Yorkton’s on the road again Tuesday in Estevan (Weyburn welcomes Melville Wednesday), before the Terriers host the Wings in their home opener next Friday.
Brandson Hein kicked off the new season with a hat trick, while teammates Calvon Boots and Nate Hooper added three assists each as the Flin Flon Bombers out-scored the La Ronge Ice Wolves 7-4 on the road.
Donavon Houle-Villeneuve also had a three point night with a goal and two assists, while Dawson McKenzie (1g-1a), Billy Klymchuk and Vincent Nardone rounded out the scoring.
Notably absent was Chrystopher Collin, who announced over the summer he would forgo his Division I scholarship to Bowling Green to join the Memorial Cup Champion Acadie-Bathurt Titan of the QMJHL. If opening night is any indication, the Bombers still have plenty of firepower and they’ll look to continue the early trend when they host the Ice Wolves Saturday night.
La Ronge had a big four point night from Zach Bannister (1g-3a) and two goals and an assist from Mitch Zambon, with defenseman Antonio Di Paolo also chipping in a goal.
A back and forth game in Melville saw the Estevan Bruins score three powerplay goals en route to a 5-4 shootout win over the Millionaires.
The Bruins took the lead three different times during regulation before Michael McChesney scored the shootout winner. McChesney, the third year Bruin and 20-year-old, added a goal during regulation and he’s coming off a 30-goal season. Jake Heerspink and TJ Irey each had a goal and two assists. George Cathers also scored in his first SJHL game.
Jake Anthony, just acquired from Nipawin, made 25/29 saves in his first action as a Bruin. He also went 3/3 during the shootout.
Colby Entz made 35/39 saves at the other end for the Millionaires, while Montana Streit, Jaxon Tait, Ryan Heino and Daniel Liberty did the scoring.
He was in the conversation for top SJHL goalie a year ago, and in his third and final full season in Kindersley, Justen Close of the Klippers is sure to be one of the front runners again.
Close opened his 20-year-old season on a high note, stopping 23 of 24 shots in a 3-1 victory in Battlefords, helping Clayton Jardine to his first SJHL win as Coach/GM of the Klippers.
Austin Nault opened the scoring in the final minute of the first period, before a scoreless middle frame. Damon McKenzie doubled the Klippers’ lead midway through the third, before the Stars’ Ryan Gil spoiled Close’s shutout with 1:38 remaining. Kindersley’s Josh Fletcher added an empty netter with one second remaining.
Joel Gryzbowski, another pre-season candidate for top goaltender, made 26/28 saves in his season debut.
They’ll do it all over again Saturday in Kindersley.
Two teams have yet to hit the ice, but that will change on Saturday when the Melfort Mustangs host Notre Dame to open up a Saturday/Sunday home-and-home.