By Craig Stein
Dondre Watson’s first SJHL goal came less than a minute into overtime of his first SJHL game, as he helped his new club, the Flin Flon Bombers, to a 4-3 (OT) opening night victory over the visiting Nipawin Hawks at the Whitney Forum.
The 20-year-old Watson spent last season split between three teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he combined to rack up 27 goals.
Aurora, ON product Keegan Matthew also scored his first SJHL goal, the 18-year-old tied the game and forced overtime with just 1:47 left to play. Veterans Brandon Lesko and Nick Shumlanski also hit the twine for the Bombers (1-0-0-0). Brenden Newton got the start in goal, turning away 24/27 shots.
For the Hawks (0-0-1-0), Grant Baetsen, Tanner Thompson and Keegan Kjargaard did the scoring. Rookie goalie Sam-Jaxon Visscher got the nod on opening night, and made 40/44 stops.
Carson Rose scored with three seconds left in regulation, setting the stage for his teammate Jacob Wozney to score the winner in overtime as the Weyburn Red Wings, who were held off the scoreboard for 59:57, went on to stun the Yorkton Terriers 2-1 (OT) on the road.
Nathan Hargrave made 33/34 saves in goal for the Red Wings (1-0-0-0) while Jakob Severson was lights out for nearly 60 minutes for the Terriers, stopping the first 43 shots he faced, making 43/45 saves on the night.
18-year-old Kaleb Bell opened the scoring in the first period for Yorkton. The Terriers return the favour with a trip to Weyburn on Saturday.
The two-time defending league champion Melfort Mustangs (1-0-0-0) saw plenty of key graduates move on, but it’s so far so good to start 2016-2017, opening the season with a 7-0 win in La Ronge.
Last year’s defenseman of the year, Eric Sinclair, led the charge with three points (1g-2a). Miles Warkentine added three assists, Kalem Zary notched a pair of goals and an assist while rookie Jaxon Joseph also scored twice. Nick Schultze and Matt Goudy rounded out the scoring and Evan Plotnik started off the season strong, turning in a 33-save shutout.
The Ice Wolves (0-1-0-0) look to rebound Saturday in Melfort.
Likely a pre-season favourite to be in the mix for a scoring title, Lynnden Pastachak opened the season with a three point night, scoring twice and setting up another, leading the Estevan Bruins (1-0-0-0) to a 5-0 shutout victory in Melville Friday night.
Nathan Alalouf made 25 saves for the shutout. Isaac Embree scored his first SJHL to open the scoring in the first. Kaelen Holt and Zach Goberis also found the net, while Brandon Wells made 28/33 saves for the Millionaires (0-1-0-0).
Layne Young put up 24-goals and 75-points a year ago en route to a slam dunk Rookie Of The Year season, and he picked up where he left off, beginning his sophomore season in Battlefords with a pair of goals in the North Stars’ (1-0-0-0) 3-2 win over Kindersley.
Newcomer Connor Logan assisted on both of Young’s goals and rookie Owen Lamb opened the scoring. Taryn Kotchorek stopped all 10 shots he faced, relieving starter Ryan Rewerts, who made 18/20 saves.
Carson Pickett and Keenan Scardina replied for the Klippers (0-1-0-0) while Gunnar Nielsen stopped 30/33 shots in his SJHL start.
All five Friday matchups will go again on Saturday, finishing off opening weekend home and homes. You can add in Notre Dame @ Humboldt, making it a full six game slate on Saturday.