When the Nipawin Hawks selected Jaxsen Wiebe with the 22nd pick in the 2017 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League bantam draft they more than likely thought he would become an asset in 2020 or so.
The 16-year-old Wiebe has not only made the team this year, but through the first 21 games of his Junior “A” career he has nearly matched his entire output from last season when he was a rookie winger in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. The 6-foot-0, 186-pound Wiebe has five goals and eight assists with the Hawks while last year he had 16 points in 41 games with his hometown Generals.
Wiebe’s play in his freshman SJHL campaign has been somewhat predictable. After being held off the scoresheet in his first two games, he went on a four-game run with at least one point before cooling off for a period of time. Recently, however, he has rediscovered his touch around the net as he has collected six points in his last five games.
Wiebe’s play with the Moose Jaw Bantam AA Warriors got him noticed by the Hawks, and the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels, as in two seasons with the Warriors he averaged more than a point per game. Wiebe, who had 35 goals and 35 assists in 57 games at the Bantam AA level, was also picked by Red Deer in the seventh round of the WHL’s bantam draft.
Nipawin is in a fierce three-team battle for top spot in the Sherwood Division standings and they are in a group of nine that are separated by just 11 points for top spot overall. The Hawks have the second best goal differential in the league and Wiebe’s contributions have played a big part in their attempt to try and successfully defend the Canalta Cup championship they captured last spring.
With four years of junior hockey eligibility remaining, Wiebe appears to be a cornerstone for the future for the Hawks.
If it were not for a three-week stretch early in the season where he was not in the lineup, Josh Fletcher would easily be the Kindersley Klippers leading scorer and it is also quite possible the Klippers would be even closer to the Humboldt Broncos for top spot in the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division and first place overall.
The 20-year-old Calgary product has eight goals and six assists in 15 games this year, which is two points shy of the career-best totals he put up in just 22 games last season. The 6-foot-0, 180-pound winger has a pair of four-game point streaks since returning to the line-up leaving him just two points behind Kyle Bosch for the team lead in scoring.
Fletcher began his Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League career with the Humboldt Broncos two years ago, but after just 12 games, where he failed to register a point, he wound up in Kindersley. Fletcher then put up 10 points, along with 89 minutes in penalties, to finish up his rookie season and last year, in a limited number of games, he set career bests in goals, assists and points to go with 81 more minutes in penalties.
Fletcher moved to Saskatchewan following three seasons of midget hockey in Calgary. As a 15-year-old, he tallied 16 goals and added 26 assists in 37 games at the minor-midget level. He then added 31 points in 26 games of Midget AA action before completing his midget career with 15 points in 34 games with the Calgary Royals of the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League.
With Fletcher out of the line-up earlier this year the Klippers were 4-3-1 so it is obvious he makes a difference, not just offensively, but with his gritty play as once again he is among the team leaders in penalties with 40.
The Klippers are, and will likely be, in a battle all season long not only for the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division title, but the regular-season pennant as well. Fletcher is looking to finish his junior career strong and hopefully bring one or both of those titles to west-central Saskatchewan.