By Dave Leaderhouse
After a relatively busy week-day schedule, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has a noticeably quieter slate of games this weekend with three teams not playing at all and just a trio of clubs seeing action on both nights. The other six squads are one and done.
The Humboldt Broncos travel to Flin Flon for a doubleheader against the Broncos with Humboldt looking to break a three-way tie for top spot in the overall point’s race while Flin Flon will be playing its first game of the month after a trip to Nipawin earlier in the week was postponed due to bus problems.
The Broncos not only have company in the race for first place overall, but they also now have to share top spot in the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division with the Kindersley Klippers, who had an impressive week winning all three games on a road trip that saw them go from La Ronge to Notre Dame to Weyburn on successive nights. Kindersley is obviously one of the idle clubs this weekend.
The Bombers, meanwhile, are presently sitting third in the Sherwood Division, but with numerous games in hand on those ahead of them in the standings, they could tighten that battle up considerably with a strong weekend on home ice. Flin Flon would also get into the thick of the overall point’s race with a solid showing as entering this weekend the Nipawin Hawks, Humboldt and Kindersley are just two points in front of the Melfort Mustangs. Those four teams are as many as seven ahead of the Bombers, but again, that could be trimmed considerably by weekend’s end.
While Humboldt will be looking to break away from the pack at the top of the standings, the same can be said for Nipawin as they travel to Yorkton on Friday for a showdown of divisional leaders when they play the Terriers.
The Hawks, who have won their last six outings, are two points clear of Melfort for the Sherwood Division lead while Yorkton has been equally as impressive of late winning its last four games to build a three-point advantage on the Estevan Bruins for first place in the Viterra Division. Yorkton has six games in hand on the Bruins and with Estevan also idle this weekend this is an opportunity to gain even more ground in the divisional race. Like Flin Flon, the Terriers could also become part of the conversation for first place overall should they take advantage of the games in hand they have on everyone in front of them.
One other game this weekend that affects the top part of the standings has Melfort travelling to Melville to face the Millionaires on Friday. Melfort, which had a 10-game winning streak snapped last weekend when they dropped a pair of games on home ice, are two points behind the logjam for first overall and they face the same deficit in the Sherwood Division race with Nipawin.
The La Ronge Ice Wolves, who snapped a 14-game losing streak on Thursday when they outscored the Battlefords North Stars 3-1 in a game played in Pinehouse, will try and make it two in a row, again against the North Stars, when those two clubs meet again in La Ronge on Friday.
Melville makes a quick trip to Weyburn after their match against Melfort to complete the weekend schedule on Saturday against the Red Wings. The Millionaires trail Weyburn by three points for the final playoff spot and La Ronge is now just six back of Melville following their win on Thursday.
SJHL NOTES – Melfort forward Justin Ball will be looking to extend his scoring streak to a mind-blowing 28 games when the Mustangs visit Melville on Friday. Ball, whose streak is nearly double of the next best of 14 games turned in by Yorkton’s Jared Legien earlier in the season, has been held off the scoresheet just once this year and that was more than two months ago in the Mustangs’ second game of the year. Ball, who has 12 goals in his last nine games, leads the league with 29 overall and as a result is first in the individual scoring race with 50 points – four points clear of teammate Carson Albrecht and Flin Flon’s Brandson Hein. Albrecht has been on a nice run of his own registering 20 points in his last 10 games with seven of those being assists in the last five games. That playmaking stretch is shared by Flin Flon’s Nate Hooper as the longest current run, but Hooper does have one extra assist during that stretch…Good luck wishes have to be extended to Estevan head coach and general manager Chris Lewgood as he is the lone SJHL representative on Team West for the World Junior “A” Challenge which gets underway in Bonnyville, Alta., on Sunday. Four players were invited to the selection camp, but none of the four – Chase Felguerias from Humboldt, Vincent Nardone from Flin Flon and Tim Gould and Nolan Renwick from Notre Dame – were named to the final roster. Lewgood will be looking to successfully defend the title won last year when Flin Flon’s Mike Reagan was head coach of the Team West entry.
Humboldt at Flin Flon
Battlefords at La Ronge
Nipawin at Yorkton
Melfort at Melville
Humboldt at Flin Flon
Melville at Weyburn