If analyzing the moves made over the last few days are any indication, the signals are that La Ronge, Nipawin, Flin Flon, and Yorkton are going all-in to challenge the Battlefords North Stars for the Canalta Cup. Melfort tinkered with some transactions too, but are otherwise comfortable with their line-up while the other clubs opted to either stand pat or look towards the future.
The La Ronge Ice Wolves got some help from former coach Bob Beatty as they added 1999 F Ty Budai (Dewinton AB) from Beatty’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Budai has 7-goals and 10-assists in 38-games and is expected to slot into a top six forward role down the stretch. The Ice Wolves also brought home 2001 F Holden Knights (Warman SK) from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, where he had 1-goal and 5-assists in 30-games. Knights actually has played 6-games in the SJHL already, four as an AP with Melfort as a 16-year-old and two last year with La Ronge and he has 2-goals under his belt. 1999 D Nolan Spadafore (Cochrane AB) is also expected to join the Wolves from Olds, where he had 12-points in 36-games. The Ice Wolves also announced Jake Hobson will miss the rest of the season with a hip injury.
The NIpawin Hawks changed their forward group by picking up 1999 F Riley Bruce (Winnipeg MB) from the Portage Terriers in exchange for Austen Flaman. Bruce has ripped 25-goals and 38-points in 34-games in the MJHL and should move right into a top spot for the Hawks. Nipawin also sent Zach Cox to Whitecourt of the AJHL to help settle their 20-year-old situation. In return, they get 2001 F Greyson Stewart (Lloydminster AB) and a player development fee. Stewart has played 48-games already this season (20 with Camrose) and has 8-goals and 9-assists.
With the Terriers losing star goalie Ryan Ouellette to the USHL, Yorkton scrambled to find a partner for Philippe Bond and settled on 2001 G Matthew Pesenti (Saskatoon SK) from Kindersley for a player development fee. Pesenti impressed early on this year with a 2.89-GAA and .918-SPCT but has not appeared in a game since the middle of November. The Terriers also picked up 1999 D Zach Ziegler (White City SK) from Waywayseecappo of the MJHL. Ziegler had 2-goals and 4-assists in 9-games with Kindersley earlier in the year but had not played for the Wolverines.
Flin Flon has been playing with just one goalie for a number of weeks so they shored up the position by getting 2001 G Callum Schell (Burlington ON) from the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. Schell had a 3.76-GAA and .892-SPCT in 14-games and should see significant action down the stretch to help spell Jacob Delorme. The Bombers also added high scoring forward Zach Bannister (Grande Prairie AB). The 1999 born player will be joining his third team of the year despite 9-goals and 27-assists in 39-games overall between the Mils and Ice Wolves. Melville gets a couple of prospects (a 16-year-old and a 15-year-old) in exchange. The Bombers also added towering winger 2000 F Hayden Clayton (Sylvan Lake AB) from Whitecourt of the AJHL, where he had 4-goals and 22-assists in 38-games played. It was a three-way deal in which Brandon Cianflone ended up in Pembroke.
The defending Canalta Cup champion Battlefords North Stars still have three goalies as they dealt Parker Rey to the Swan Valley Stampeders, but picked up 2000 G Kristian Lyon (Langley BC) from the Langley Rivermen, where he had a 3.30-GAA and .886-SPCT in 13-appearances.
The Humboldt Broncos are expected to welcome back 2002 D Chase Lacombe (Moose Jaw SK) from the WHL Swift Current Broncos. He had a goal in 17-games for the Broncos after playing 45-games as a 16-year-old with Humboldt in 2018-19.
Melville not only shuffled out Bannister, but also sent Jacob Bourchier (Truro) and Max McPeak (Campbellton) to the Maritimes and added one-time Estevan forward 2000 born Kolton Leslie (Fort St John BC) from the Portage Terriers. Leslie had 10-points in 44-games as a rookie with the Bruins last year and 2-goals and 4-assists in 30-games with the Bruins and Terriers this year. The Mils also added 2000 D Sebastian Archambault (Salmon Arm BC) from the Ice Wolves. He had 1-assist in 14-games.
Notre Dame sent Alex Vosniades to the Terrebonne Cobras for a PDF and got 2001 F Brady Clayton (Marwayne AB) from Melfort, where he had 3-points in 20-games.
Earlier in the week, Melfort moved 2001 D Colby Brett to Kindersley and acquired Andrew Hunt from Olds as well as Vaclav Prospal from Sherwood Park, both of those pick-ups are from the AJHL. Also, look for forward Austin Nault to return from a wrist injury and he should bolster the line-up although he was picked up from Kindersley over a month ago.
The Terriers got 1999 D Connor Karo from Weyburn for a player development fee.
The Ice Wolves also dealt away Macrae Setoguchi and Samson Mouland to the SIJHL’s Dryden Ice Dogs for PDFs.