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Hrynkiw, Wakaluk, Jones appear to be frontrunners


By Mike Stackhouse, 02/16/13, 11:00PM CST


How can you make a case for anyone other than Matt Hrynkiw to be the SJHL Goaltender Of The Year?  Well, for starters you can look at the fact the Broncos are still 9-and-4 in games NOT played by Hrynkiw, and the combined goals against average and SPCT of the main back-ups for him this year would still rank in the top five or so in the SJHL.  Nevertheless, Hrynkiw sports a GAA below 2.00, has a sky high SPCT, and just doesn’t ever seem to have a game where he blows up.  Every year someone else has been brought in to challenge him and every year he withstands the challenge.  Someone give this guy a scholarship.  There are a lot worse out there getting free rides.

Perhaps Alex Wakaluk poses the strongest challenge to Hrynkiw.  Sure, he doesn’t have the sub-2.00 GAA; but he’s been worked the hardest of any SJHL goaltender that plays on a contending team and it was Wakaluk who kept the Mils afloat while they sorted out some issues on defense and how to get their forwards to buy in to playing in their own end.  While it’s true Wakaluk’s back-ups have a combined record of 7-and-1, head coach Jamie Fiesel has spotted them in low pressure games.  Despite that fact, both of Wakaluk’s back-ups have posted a GAA above 3.00 and a SPCT below .900.  The Mils would be nowhere near contention without him.

The recent revelation that is Jordan Liem shouldn’t take away from the fact Davis Jones is the one goalie that opposing coaches fear the most when it comes to ‘stealing’ a playoff series.  Since December 1st, Jones has put up numbers that are right on par with Hrynkiw.  Jones is 1.87, .941; while Hrynkiw is 1.82, .941 over that same span.  Jones’ slow start to the season coincided with Nipawin’s slow start, but his elevated play has meant the Hawks go into the playoffs a feared foe.

It may not be a fair thing to say, but it’s likely true that the Battlefords North Stars will go as far as Connor Creech can carry them.  The Stars are a rookie laden squad without a superstar forward and it’s Creech who is often the difference between a win and a loss.  Nevertheless, a 2.36-GAA since January 1st has only resulted in a 4-3-and-3 record for Creech, further emphasizing he needs to be ‘that’ good for the Stars to go deep into the postseason.

Best of the rest:

Yes, Jean-Philippe Boucher plays on the league’s worst team; but his near .500 won/loss record should show that he’s incredibly valuable to the Weyburn Red Wings.

Kale Thomson had a strong first half, Dawson MacAuley has had a fantastic second half.  Neither has played enough to be considered for the league’s top goalie award; but the Terriers go into the playoffs with a pretty darned good 1-2 combination.

Ty Reichenbach and Michael Salmon offered a strong platoon for Notre Dame, but the rails have come off down the stretch.  It remains to be seen if they can regroup in the playoffs.

Devin Buffalo was sensational through the first 25 games of the season and his name could, easily, be mentioned along Wakaluk’s for his value to the Bombers.  But, Brandon Wildung has eaten into his playing time and Buffalo had a few off nights.  Still, it looks like he’s rounding back into form just in time for the playoffs.

Tyrell King has become one of the more reliable goalies in the league despite his rookie status.  He’s played all but two periods of the last seven games and looks to be Kindersley’s number one option for the playoffs.

Curtis Martinu, of the Bruins, should get credit for his character as he hung in there after a brutal first night of the season against Melville as he got the starting assignment despite arriving hours earlier.  He’s been without a back-up for most of the season.

The Ice Wolves give up a lot of shots, but Myles Hovdebo has been pretty consistent and held off a challenge from Dasan Sydora for the number one job.

Jesse Wilkins also fended off Patrick Johnson in Melfort by stepping up his game after Johnson left for the WHL in December.  After Johnson came back, Wilkins didn't relinquish the crease.