By Dave Leaderhouse
It’s been a while since both the Flin Flon Bombers and Yorkton Terriers have laid claim to their respective divisional leads at the same time, but that is exactly how things have panned out thanks to each team having recorded points in their last five outings.
Flin Flon is coming off a gruelling four-game road trip where they picked up seven of a possible eight points while the Terriers have reeled off five straight wins. That recent success gives the Bombers a three-point cushion over the Melfort Mustangs for top spot in the Sherwood Division race while Yorkton now has a four-point bulge over the Weyburn Red Wings in the Viterra Division battle.
Both teams have had little trouble putting the puck in the net as Flin Flon leads the way with 61 goals scored in 14 contests while Yorkton is next with 51 in 12 games. Not surprising then is the fact that the individual scoring race is loaded with players from both teams as the Bombers have five in the top 10 with the Terriers having two and one more knocking on the door to join that party.
Flin Flon’s Brandson Hein leads the way with 13 goals and 13 assists while Yorkton’s Jared Legien is closing in with 11-12-23 totals in two fewer games. Legien has been a model of consistency having registered at least one point in every game this year, but Hein’s totals are equally as impressive as he has points in every situation as he leads the league with three short-handed efforts and has the same number of goals while on the power-play. Two of his tallies have also been game winners.
Other Bombers off to torrid starts include Caleb Moretz (11-10-21), Calvon Boots (1-18-19), Daylan Marchi (10-8-18) and Nate Hooper (5-13-18) while 16-year-old Aiden Bulych leads all freshmen with 18 points for Yorkton. Branden Klatt, who also has a point in every game he has played with Yorkton this season, is just on the outside of the top 10 with 17 points in the 11 games he has appeared in this year.
Add in Terrier veteran Chantz Petruic who has the longest goal-scoring streak this season with six goals in his last six games and the picture is painted for what should be an explosive weekend at the Whitney Forum when the two teams meet for a doubleheader in Flin Flon.
As hot as the Bombers and Terriers have been of late they are still not the hottest team in the league as that honour belongs to the Kindersley Klippers. A 5-0-1-0 record in their last six games has propelled Kindersley to the top of the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division with their 19 points also holding down the top spot in the overall point’s race. Kindersley has just one game this weekend when they will be home to the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Saturday.
While the Bombers, Terriers and Klippers have enjoyed recent successes the same cannot be said for the Nipawin Hawks, Weyburn Red Wings and Humboldt Broncos, all who earlier in the season held their respective divisional leads.
Nipawin burst out of the gate with six straight wins, but just five goals in their last five outings has resulted in four of those games ending in losses. The Hawks, who now find themselves in third place in the Sherwood Division, have the busiest weekend of everyone as they are in Weyburn, Estevan and Notre Dame on successive nights beginning on Friday. Should they rediscover their offense this weekend, and have some success, they could quite possibly be back at, or near, the top of their divisional race.
Weyburn, with just one point in its last four games, also hosts Melfort this weekend in addition to their meeting with Nipawin while Humboldt, winless in its last two games and losers of four of their last six, has a home-and-home set with the Melville Millionaires. The Broncos, like Nipawin and Weyburn, could reclaim their respective divisional leads should they have strong weekends and those they are chasing falter.
Two other games this weekend has La Ronge resuming a wicked stretch where they are playing seven straight on the road when they return to the Battlefords on Friday for a rematch with the North Stars. The Ice Wolves, who fell 4-0 to the North Stars on Wednesday, conclude the stretch with the game in Kindersley on Saturday. The other tilt this weekend has the Melfort Mustangs beginning a brief southern swing with a stop in Estevan to play the Bruins. Melfort has quietly posted the second-best winning percentage as their 7-3-1-0 (0.682) record is just behind that of Kindersley’s 9-3-1-0 mark (0.731).
SJHL NOTES – While Nipawin’s offense has dried up somewhat – they have by far scored the fewest goals with just 26 in 11 games – their defence have been once again the best in the league. The Hawks have allowed a paltry 23 goals against with netminders Patrick Pugliese and Declan Hobbs being big reasons for that result. Pugliese has allowed just six goals in his four starts while Hobbs has been beaten 16 times in his seven outings. Kindersley’s Justen Close, who shared the SaskTel Top Goaltender Award with Hobbs last year, has been even more impressive as he has surrendered just 20 goals in 10 games. The workhorse between the pipes continues to be Andrew Henderson from Notre Dame as his 644 minutes of action is 40 minutes more than Close, Pierce Diamond from Flin Flon and Joel Grzybowski from the Battlefords…There are two perfect marks in the league and both will remain intact through this weekend as the Melfort Mustangs are 4-0-0-0 at home while Kindersley has the same record on the road. This weekend, however, the Mustangs take their show on the road where they are 3-3-1-0 while the Klippers are home where they are 5-3-1-0.
La Ronge at Battlefords
Melfort at Estevan
Yorkton at Flin Flon
Humboldt at Melville
Nipawin at Weyburn
Nipawin at Estevan
Yorkton at Flin Flon
Melville at Humboldt
La Ronge at Kindersley
Melfort at Weyburn
Nipawin at Notre Dame