By Craig Stein
All 12 SJHL teams were on the ice on Friday, and they will be again on Saturday, and with the trade deadline behind them, it’s offically the home stretch and playoff races are heating up.
The Weyburn Red Wings picked up another crucial win over the Melville Milloinaires, 2-1 in regulation Friday night, to pull within a single point of Melville for the 10th and final playoff spot. The Red Wings (14-21-3-0) have two games in hand and have now won four in a row.
Ben Laidlaw stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced, and he’s now 3-0 as a Red Wing, with a 1.68 GAA, .955% in three starts. Jevon Schwean scored the winner early in the third period and Eric Soar also found the net.
Tristan Shewchuk opened the scoring for the Millionaires (13-21-3-3) and Colby Entz made 27/29 saves.
Another big race shaping up are the top seven teams jockeying to finish in the top six and avoid the Wild Card series.
The 7th place Flin Flon Bombers have now won three in a row after a 5-3 win in Melfort, which gets them one point back of Humboldt for a top six spot.
The Bombers (23-13-0-2) may have more than 6th place in mind, as they’re now breathing down Melfort’s neck for second in the Sherwood with another head to head on Saturday, and with three games in hand on division-leading Nipawin, the new-look Bombers have the schedule to try to move up in the division.
In Friday’s win, Donovan Houle-Villeneuve had two goals and an assist to lead the way. Chrystopher Collin and Calvon Boots each had a goal and an assist. Isaac Jackson also scored and Cade Kowalski added an assist in his Bomber debut. Jacob Delorme made 39/42 saves.
Colin Schmidt, Kenzie Arnold and Nolan Kadachuk scored for Melfort (25-12-2-0), while Shawn Parkinson made 23/27 saves. Both teams have deadline acquisition goalies from out-of-province yet to arrive, as Melfort added Noah Giesbrecht from OCN (MJHL) while the Bombers brought in Gabriel Waked from Quebec.
The Notre Dame Hounds are looking to prove there are more than seven teams with a shot at a top six spot. The 8th place Hounds are 4-0-0-1 in their last five, and back above .500 after a 2-0 win over the visiting Estevan Bruins.
The Hounds (17-16-2-4) traded their 20-year-old goalie Andrew Henderson to Yorkton, but rookie sensation Riley Kohonick is still there, and on Friday he made 33 saves for his first SJHL shutout. Marshall Wilton and Jakob Breault each had a goal and assist.
Goaltender Grant Boldt made 29/31 saves for the Bruins (18-20-2-1).
Patrick Pugliese made 29/30 saves, and the Nipawin Hawks stretched out their Sherwood Division and league lead with a 3-1 decision over Humboldt.
The Hawks (28-11-1-1) now lead Melfort by six points in the division, and Kindersley by five points in the overall standings. They’ve now allowed 80 goals in 41 games, just shy of two per game.
Brodie Girod (1g-1a), Logan Moon and Jaxsen Wiebe did the scoring. Logan Foster got the Broncos (23-15-2-1) on the board and Rayce Ramsay made 26/28 saves.
The Battlefords North Stars scored four times in the second period and rolled to a 5-2 win in Yorkton.
That leaps the North Stars (21-10-4-4) past Humboldt and into second place in the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division, and just three points of Kindersley, who lost Friday night.
Brett Gammer scored twice while Cody Spagrud and MacGregor Sinclair each had a goal and two assists, and Quinton Loon-Stewardson had a goal and one assist. Chad Duran made 31/33 saves in the win.
Cole Keenleyside scored and Jared Legien added his 30th goal of the season for the Terriers (21-17-1-0). He’s the third SJHL player this season to hit the plateau.
The La Ronge Ice Wolves beat the Kindersley Klippers for the second time in a week, 3-2 on home ice Friday.
The Klippers out-shot La Ronge 48-27, but Jordan Frey made 46/48 saves to steal the win. Jake Gudjonson and Daunte Fortner each had a goal and an assist while Jordan Mish rounded out the scoring. The Ice Wolves (10-29-1-0) aren’t going away quietly as they’re 11 points out of a playoff spot now.
Tate Page (1g-1a) and Kyle Bosch scored and Zach Johnson made 24/27 saves for the Klippers (24-10-3-2). Kindersley’s lead is down to three points in their division.
The two teams meet again on Saturday in La Ronge. Notre Dame/Estevan, Melfort/Flin Flon, and Nipawin/Humboldt will finish up home-and-home series’ on Saturday, while Battlefords continues their road swing in Melville, and Yorkton’s on the road to Weyburn.