By Craig Stein
TWO SHUTOUTS & A SHOOTOUT PART OF A FIVE GAME SET
A pair of goaltenders picked up shutouts in their SJHL debuts on opening night of the 2019-2020 season on Friday.
The Nipawin Hawks, with Patrick Pugliese heading back south of the border in the off-season, saw Ontario product Ethan Slobodzian stop all 25 shots he faced in his first action as a Hawk, in Nipawin’s 3-0 win over Melfort. Slobodzian spent last season between Grande Prairie of the AJHL and Dauphin of the MJHL.
Jake Tremblay and Michael Makarenko each had a goal and an assist, while rookie defenseman and Wisconsin product Burke Simpson rounded out the scoring in his first SJHL game.
Aaron de Kok also had a spectacular debut, making 30/30 saves for a shutout in the Weyburn Red Wings 2-0 win over Estevan.
The 19-year-old from Okotoks played Junior ‘B’ in BC last season with the VIJHL’s Campbell River Storm, appearing in 30 games, posting a 1.89 Goals Against Average and a .936%. He also suited up in one game for the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles.
Local product Braden Birnie (1g-1a) opened the scoring to kick off his rookie season, late in the first period and that was all the scoring until captain Ben Hiltz added an empty netter with a minute remaining.
Estevan goalie Keenan Rancier, also in his first SJHL action, turned away 23 of the 24 shots he faced.
Newly named captain Chantz Petruic tied the game with 47 seconds left in regulation and added the shootout winner, as the Yorkton Terriers beat the Melville Millionaires 5-4 (SO). Petruic finished with a goal and an assist, and figures to be in the conversation for the SJHL scoring race, having finished fourth a year ago with 84 points (32g-52a).
Ryan Ries was held without a goal in 39 games last season, but led the way on Friday with two goals and an assist for Yorkton. Carson Henry opened the scoring in his first SJHL game.
Yorkton led 2-0, before Melville rattled off the next four, and the Terriers got back to even with two more in the third.
Jonathan Kraft had a goal and assist for the Millionaires, while Luke Nkwama, Aidan Steinke and Nic Porterfield had the others.
Philippe Bond won his Terrier debut, making 31/35 saves. Berk Berkeliev turned away 44/48 shots in goal for Melville.
Donovan Houle-Villeneuve started the season off with a bang, scoring four goals and setting up one more, as the Flin Flon Bombers beat the La Ronge Ice Wolves 5-2 at the Whitney Forum.
Tristan Lemyre also scored, while Cole Rafuse chipped in three assists, and Mason Martin and Alec Malo both added two. Jacob Delorme started the season with a 25/27 save performance.
Max Kleiner and Kyle Ford scored for the Ice Wolves, while Aidan Morrison had two assist and Ryan Baker made 47/52 saves.
The Battlefords North Stars kicked off their title defense on the right foot, defeating the Kindersley Klippers 7-1.
The Stars have several returnees from the Canalta Cup winning team, and Kaden Boser, Brett Gammer and Dylan Esau all had a goal and an assist on Friday. Veterans Austin Becker, Quinton Loon-Stewardson and Matthew Fletcher also found the net, as did newcomer Rylan Nivon (1g-1a).
With Joel Gryzbowski moving on from the SJHL a year early, Adam Dmyterko got the start in the season opener, making 33/34 saves for the Stars.
Kyle Bosch provided the lone goal for the Klippers.
All five Friday meetings have rematches Saturday as their home-and-homes wrap up. Also Saturday, Humboldt opens a home-and-home in Notre Dame.