RBC PLAYER OF THE YEAR / SGEU MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Chantz Petruic, Yorkton Terriers
The SJHL’s RBC Player Of The Year, and SGEU Most Valuable Player this season goes to this year’s league scoring champion, Chantz Petruic of the Yorkton Terriers. Petruic had a healthy lead in the goals and points department from start to finish this season, moving into some rare company, eclipsing both the 50-goal and 100-point plateaus in his 20-year-old campaign, and through 156 career games, he had 234-points, including 107-goals in the better part of three full seasons.
Petruic says he set some big goals and targets for himself this off-season. “In the summer I knew I’d have to work hard and take care of my body. I set goals before the season. I knew I could dominate and I really put a lot of pressure on myself to do that. It felt pretty amazing to get it done.”
Heading into the playoffs with home ice advantage in round one, and coming off an impressive winning streak, much of which was with Petruic out of the lineup late in the season, the Terrier Captain says he doesn’t feel like he has to do it all himself, as the supporting cast has been added to, and became better and better as the season wore on. "Our young guys have been unbelievable, they have fit right in and have been very impactful in our success. Bond has been awesome for us in the pipes too. It’s impressive how mature our rookies play, and getting Zawatsky and the Taphorn’s WHL experience in our lineup has been huge. need to learn how to compete every night no matter what the opponent is. Every team can win."
The Moose Jaw product played one year of WHL hockey with his hometown Warriors so isn’t eligible for NCAA hockey, but is sure to have plenty of suitors in the Canadian University and professional ranks for next season.
“As for next year. Plans are still up in the air. Waiting until the end of the season to make a decision and at the end of the day it’s what makes most sense for me, and where I feel comfortable.”
MAYFAIR DIAGNOSTICS TOP DEFENSEMAN
Matthew Fletcher, Battlefords North Stars
For the second straight season the Battlefords North Stars have the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s top defenceman in their midst as team captain Matthew Fletcher has been named the Mayfair Diagnostics Defenceman of the Year for 2019-20.
Fletcher, who was a teammate of Cody Spagarud when the latter won the award last year, has enjoyed a spectacular final season of junior hockey. Having played in every game this year, Fletcher has accumulated 11 goals and 35 assists in helping the North Stars lead the league from start to finish and secure home-ice advantage for as long as they are in the playoffs.
A Saskatoon product, Fletcher has nearly doubled his output from last season and in the final voting was selected as the award winner over Devan Harrison from the Estevan Bruins and Alex Rondeau of the Melfort Mustangs.
A veteran of more than 150 games Fletcher will be counted on heavily as the North Stars try to successfully defend the Canalta Cup championship they claimed last spring. His leadership, durability and experience are strengths every team needs and Fletcher has consistently shown he brings everything he has to each and every game.
SASKTEL TOP GOALTENDER
Berk Berkeliev, Melville Millionaires
It’s been a roller coaster of a season for 19-year-old Melville goalie Berk Berkeliev, but he’s capping it with the SaskTel SJHL Goalie Of The Year award.
Berkeliev was in a collision just two games into the season that left him in hospital for multiple days with a concussion and facial injuries, and out of action for about two months, between September 14th and November 8th. Despite it all, and being on a Melville team at the bottom of the standings this season, Berkeliev has the league’s top save percentage (.928%) among active goalies, and a sub-3.00 (2.83) goals against average. He also has 11-wins, including one shutout this season, and is poised to take another run at the league award next season, eligible to come back as a 20-year-old.
“Yes this season definitely hasn’t come without its challenges, but I just tried to make the most of every day. I obviously had a tough recovery from the injury that many know about, and I owe a lot to my family, friends, teammates, and coaches for supporting me and helping keep me level-headed during a tough time. I know our group isn’t ending the season how we wanted to, but I’m still really proud of all the guys on competing hard every night and trying to stay positive. This isn’t an easy league to play in, and there is a lot of really talented players and goalies, so winning this award is really exciting and a huge honour.”
DIRECTWEST ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Tristan Lemyre, Flin Flon Bombers
2001 F Tristan Lemyre (Mirabel PQ) has, simply, been one of the most dominating offensive 18-year-old rookies in the SJHL in recent memory. Lemyre battled an injury that caused him to miss the entire month of October, yet he has still managed to put a wide distance between himself and other first year players as far as scoring statistics are concerned.
Lemyre (as of February 27th) has 29-goals and 32-assists in 43-games, which marks a 13-point lead over the second highest scoring rookie despite the fact he missed 12-games. Furthermore, Lemyre is the second highest scoring player in the entire league since December 1st (behind only Chantz Petruic) and the NCAA has taken notice as Lemyre accepted a scholarship to the University of Denver last month.
Flin Flon head coach Mike Reagan says, "We are very proud of Tristan and the adversity he has faced this year with his injury that kept him out of the line-up for the first part of the season and prevented him from probably making Canada West (World Junior 'A' Challenge). He is one of the most committed players to the game that I have coached in my 13 years here in Flin Flon. His speed and nose for the net is tremendous. He has been a huge part of our success this year and we feel he has a very bright future in front of him."
SJHL TOP SCORER
CHANTZ PETRUIC, YORKTON TERRIERS
CANALTA HOTELS COACHES OF THE YEAR - KEVIN KAMINSKI & BRAYDEN KLIMOSKO
KEVIN KAMINSKI, LA RONGE ICE WOLVES
After missing the playoffs in each of the last three seasons the La Ronge Ice Wolves were looking for someone to lead them in a different direction when they made a coaching change at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.
It certainly looks like they selected the right person as Ice Wolves’ head coach and general manager Kevin Kaminski has been picked as a co-winner of the Canalta Hotels Coach of the Year Award for the 2019-20 season.
“We had a quick meeting at practise this morning (Tuesday) and I thanked all the players for making this happen,” said Kaminski. “We got off to an 0-5 start because they found ways to lose instead of finding ways to win and then they bought in to what we said and started to believe in themselves.”
Kaminski shares the award with Battlefords North Stars head coach Brayden Klimosko and the rookie La Ronge bench boss was quick to pass on his congratulations to his rival.
“The Battlefords have been the most consistent team all season and I want to pass on a huge congratulations to Brayden,” says Kaminski.
Kaminski returned to his native Saskatchewan last summer after spending the last three decades south of the border, first as a player at various professional levels, including 139 games in the National Hockey League, and then as a coach beginning as an assistant to Mike Babcock with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks in 2000-01.
This isn’t Kaminski’s first coach-of-the-year accolades as he was also named the top coach in 2008-09 when he was in charge of the Mississippi Riverkings of the Central Hockey League. He has also had stints behind the bench in Long Beach, Missouri, Youngstown, Louisiana and most recently Fresno, but he has relished the opportunity of being closer to home.
“I really want to thank the board of directors for giving me this opportunity and having faith in me to turn this thing around,” says Kaminski.
Turn things around indeed!
The Ice Wolves enter the final weekend of the regular season with a 31-19-3-3 record and are in a heated battle with the Yorkton Terriers, Melfort Mustangs and Nipawin Hawks to try and nail down a top-four spot so that they can have home-ice advantage for the quarter-final round.
Those 31 wins are three more than the Ice Wolves cumulatively posted in the last three years and it is also the most victories by a La Ronge team in a single season in nearly a decade. Kaminski responded with “that’s cool” when informed of the drastic improvement turned in by his team, but he also quickly deflected the credit to his assistant coach Gaelan Patterson and head scout Rob Fiola.
“This is a we program and a we team; Patty (Patterson) deserves as much credit as me – he has a great future in the game,” says Kaminski.
With the Ice Wolves making their first playoff appearance in four years Kaminski wants to try and make that experience last as long as possible.
“Whoever we play we are going to be prepared,” says the Churchbridge, Sask., native. “We will be as prepared as a coaching staff can be and then it is up to the players.”
“We’re a team that has been hungry all year,” adds Kaminski. “We do our best to go to war for each other.”
BRAYDEN KLIMOSKO, BATTLEFORDS NORTH STARS
Second year bench boss Brayden Klimosko, of the Battlefords North Stars, has been named a co-winner for Canalta Hotels Coach of the Year by his peers.
Klimosko led the Stars to a 35-13-5-and-5 record last year and then took the team to the Canalta Cup title. He followed that up with a 44-9-and-2 ledger in 2019-20 as of Monday, February 24th.
How Klimosko gets his team ready each and every night hasn’t gone unnoticed by Yorkton coach Mat Hehr. “His teams are always very well prepared. He also does a great job at adjusting in-game to counteract what other teams do. They always are extremely hard working and he pushes them to work as a team playing a 200 foot game for the full 60 minutes.”
Estevan’s Chris Lewgood is especially impressed with Klimosko, saying that, “He’s honest with his players all the time and that’s not always the popular way to be. Yet, he seems to have a group that loves playing for him. His humility is evident and yet he approaches every aspect of the job with a great deal of earned confidence. He trusts his players and allows them to make mistakes while teaching the right way to do things at the same time. This really helps his players meet their potential and grow.”
Flin Flon’s Mike Reagan suggests, “I think his experience as a player and learning how to win with the Broncos has helped transition him into coaching. He’s passionate and really cares about his players.”
The 32-year-old native of Humboldt is looking to guide the Stars to their second straight SJHL championship, beginning early next month (March) when the quarter-finals begin and the Stars are the top seed.