By Dave Leaderhouse
At his current pace Justin Ball will set personal bests in every offensive category before the season is half over as the 20-year-old winger with the Melfort Mustangs has gotten off to a torrid start in his third Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season.
Ball, a 6-foot-0, 207-pound product from Saskatoon, has been held off the scoresheet just once in Melfort’s first 14 games and his 14-10-24 totals has him figuring in on 42 percent of the Mustang’s total offence.
Last season, Ball had a spectacular sophomore campaign recording 48 points in 50 games, but that number should easily be eclipsed. Ball has been used in every situation having scored four times while Melfort is on the power play and once more while the team is shorthanded. Four of Ball’s markers have also been game winners, which is just one shy of the total he had all last year in that category.
Ball got his feet wet in the SJHL two years ago when he scored eight times and set up 10 others in 48 games. That production followed a similar trend he had in two seasons with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League when he registered 12 goals and 15 assists in 88 games.
Similar to his time with the Contacts, Ball has increased his output significantly as he gains more experience at the next level and in addition to putting up better numbers he has taken on more leadership responsibilities as evidenced by his being named an alternate captain this year in Melfort.
The Mustangs look to be in a season-long battle with the Flin Flon Bombers and Nipawin Hawks for top spot in the Sherwood Division standings, in addition to being in contention for the overall point’s race, and with Ball’s improved play Melfort will undoubtedly be a stiff test for any opponent on any given night.
Tag(s): Young Guns