by Rory McGouran
With the SJHL on hold for the time being and players not able to showcase their collective talents to scouts across the hockey landscape, coaches in the SJHL are compiling their list of a few players to give the scouts an idea on who to go back and take a look at, or when the season returns, keep your eye on in the future.
Ryder Richmond – SGEU Player to Watch (Unsung Hero)
Named the Assistant Captain in his third and final year as a Bomber, Ryder Richmond earned the trust of Head Coach, Mike Regan over his tenure up north in Manitoba. Just one of two returning blue-liners for Flin Flon, the Forrest, MB native was poised to log huge minutes for a young Bombers team.
“He embodies what we want our players to be, with that never give up attitude. You can rely on him to play big minutes on the back end. You talk about an unsung hero, someone that our fans love, it’s Ryder. When the game elevates its intensity, he always elevates his game.”
2020/21 Stats – 2GP, 0g-0a-0p, 2 PIMS
Chase and Easton Haygarth – RBC Forward to Watch
Flin Flon made an enormous splash and bolstered their championship hopes when they acquired the tenacious twins from the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines prior to the 2019/20 season. Yes, the playoffs were cancelled due to COVID, and Bomber fans didn’t see those aspirations come to fruition. However, they better believe the lessons the younger players absorbed off of the Haygarths will contribute to the Bomber’s success for years to come.
Nearly identical point totals, at a point per game pace, physical, energizing, and an absolute pain for opposition players to deal with, Chase and Easton Haygarth are the epitome of Flin Flon Hockey.
“As Bombers, we always say that we want to be tough to play against. Well, not a lot of people like to play against these two, so when you got your top-two forwards as two of the hardest guys to play against, that’s a great thing. They get rewarded because they go to the tough areas and are willing to pay the price. Two of the most ultra-competitive guys in the league.”
Chase Haygarth – 56gp, 12g-42a-54p, 83 PIMS
Easton Haygarth – 56gp, 19g, 34a, 53p, 125 PIMS
Noah Kuntz – Mayfair Diagnostics Defenseman to Watch
It’s not often you see such a young defenseman earn this amount of trust so soon for Mike Regan and the Flin Flon Bombers, but it’s also fair to say that D-men like Noah Kuntz don’t come along often. Drafted by both the Bombers and the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers in 2017, Kuntz put up huge numbers, scoring 37 pts in 43 games his final year of U18 with the Regina Pat Canadians in 19/20. The 2002 born Regina native was champing at the bit to step up to the next level and prove he has the potential to be one of the best young D-man in the SJHL.
“He’s going to be a Division I player. His hockey IQ is through the roof, one of the most intelligent defensemen that we’ve had. For a young guy, he leaves you surprised sometimes with the reads he makes. Very poised, doesn’t panic, and is playing on our first power-play unit as an 18-year-old rookie, which very rarely happens for us. I think he has the potential to be one of the best defensemen we’ve had in Flin Flon over my time here.”
2019/20 Stats (Regina Pat Canadians)– 43gp, 8g-29a-37p, 10 PIMS
Cal Schell – SaskTel Goaltender to Watch
With the SJHL in hiatus due to COVID-19, Cal Schell has made the move to the USPHL with the Atlanta Mad Hatters. Having already established a 3-1 record since moving down south, he’s still a name scouts can have their eye on. Although Schell only played 11 total games during his tenure with the Bombers, his big-game ability was on display in the Playoffs. The 6’2” net-minder posted a .978 SV% in the series-clinching victory again the Humboldt Broncos.
“Big, athletic goaltenders are tough to find at this level, and he’s also proven he’s a big-game goaltender for us in the playoffs last year. When you got a guy like Cal, you know you’re in good hands. Now it’s going to be up to him to prove that he can do that all the time. That’s the challenge day in and day out of being a number one goaltender, can you do it on a consistent basis.”
Cole Duperreault – Directwest Rookie to Watch
Talk about a player with offensive upside that would make any coach drool. Cole Duppereault is near the top of that list when it comes to young SJHL’ers. In his final year of U18 hockey with the Beardy’s Blackhawks, the Martensville standout tore the league apart with 73 points, including 30 goals, in just 44 games. Oh yeah, he did it as a rookie that year too.
It may take some time for the Saskatchewan U18 AAA Rookie of the Year to season at the SJHL level, but Bomber fans and even Mike Regan must be salivating at the opportunity to have an elite offensive talent in their roster for potentially the next two years.
“He’s a 200-foot player and a coach’s dream when it comes to asking him to buy-in a do the little things right. Normally, when you come into the Flin Flon system, there’s not a lot of young guys that get huge opportunities early on. They have to find their way, pay their dues, and learn how to play like a Bomber, so it might take a little time with him, but he’s going to be an exceptional player in this league as a 19 and 20-year-old.”
2019/20 Stats (Beardy’s Blackhawks) 44gp, 30g-43a-73p, 44 PIMS