By Craig Stein
Justin Ball scored twice, giving him 39-goals and 65-points at the Christmas break, and he helped the Melfort Mustangs to a 4-2 win in Nipawin Saturday night.
The two teams split their Pre-Christmas home and home, and it was the first time in 17 outings that the Hawks surrendered more than three goals in a game (November 4th), and one was an empty-netter.
Zack Smith (1g-1a) and Alex Rondeau also scored and Shawn Parkinson made 28/30 saves for the Mustangs (24-9-2-0).
Carson Erhardt and Jaxsen Wiebe scored third period goals for the Hawks (25-10-1-1), and Declan Hobbs made 23/26 saves.
The win leaves Melfort just two points back of Nipawin for the Sherwood Division and SJHL lead, and with two games in hand. The Mustangs actually lead the league with a .714 winning percentage, just ahead of Kindersley’s .706, and Nipawin’s .703.
At the break, Flin Flon sits with 40 points, 10 back of second place Nipawin, but the Bombers have multiple games in hand on everyone. La Ronge has 15 points, last in the division and the SJHL.
The Global Ag Risk Solutions Division is the most cluttered, with Kindersley leading the pack with 48 points, Humboldt three points back, and Battlefords one behind Humboldt with three games in hand. Notre Dame’s just one game under .500 with 36 points.
The Yorkton Terriers have a six point lead over Estevan at the top of the Viterra Division, and with games played it’s even a bigger gap than it appears. Yorkton has four games in hand, and sit 8 games over .500, while the Bruins are two games under .500. After that, it’s possibly a battle for the final playoff spot as Melville sits third in the Viterra with 26 points. Weyburn is three points back at 23, with a game in hand.
While Melfort and Nipawin played closer to Christmas than anyone, they’ll be the last to get back from the break, as they play another home and home January 4th and 5th. The first teams back are Battlefords and Kindersley as they lock horns the weekend of December 28th and 29th. Yorkton/Melville and Weyburn/Estevan start their annual New Year’s home and home with Sunday matinees on December 30th. After a day off New Year’s Eve they finish those series’ off with afternoon games on New Year’s Day. Flin Flon/La Ronge plays New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day. Notre Dame continues their schedule Wed/Jan/2 in Humboldt.