By Craig Stein
Red Wings Grab 7th Seed
The Weyburn Red Wings picked up a 5-1 win in Yorkton in their final regular season game on Friday, and with it, moved up a seed into 7th, and will have a much shorter bus trip for their Best-of-Three Wild Card series, as they’ll draw the 10th place Melville Millionaries.
That means the Notre Dame Hounds drop down to 8th, and they’ll head north to Flin Flon, and actually start on the road in their Best-of-Three. Flin Flon will host Game 1 as the lower seed, with Games 2 and if necessary Game 3 in Notre Dame. The format ensures that each team only has to travel once in a short series, that each is guaranteed a home gate, and that obviously the higher seed still gets the extra game should it go the distance.
Melville and Weyburn, due to the short proximity, agreed to the familiar 1-1-1 format, with the two teams alternating venues. The two series will play their three games (if necessary) over the same four nights.
Sunday, March 11th
Game 1: Melville @ Weyburn
Game 1: Notre Dame @ Flin Flon
Tuesday, March 13th
Game 2: Weyburn @ Melville
Game 2: Flin Flon @ Notre Dame
Wednesday, March 14th
Game 3: Melville @ Weyburn*
Game 3: Flin Flon @ Notre Dame*
The lowest remaining seed from those two series will visit Nipawin in the Quarter-Finals, with the highest remaining seed meeting up with the defending champs in Battlefords. Those series’ could begin as early as Friday. The two Quarter-Finals which are both set, will go Friday and Saturday with Games 1 & 2, as 5) Humboldt visits 4) Melfort, and 3) Estevan plays host to 6) Kindersley.
Weyburn’s win on Friday saw SJHL All-Rookie member Cade Kowalski open the scoring 40 seconds in, and an assist later. Mike Eskra (1g-1a), Tyran Brown (1g-1a), Jeremy Velazquez and Cole Woodliffe also scored and Arik Weersink made 25/26 saves. The Wings finish in 7th place with a record of 29-23-5-1.
Dino Antoniadis scored for the Terriers (13-40-3-2) and Joe Marcouiller made 26 saves in his final Junior ‘A’ game.
The Estevan Bruins clinched the Viterra Division crown and #3 seed a while ago, but they dressed their ‘A’ lineup right to the finish, as their 5-3 win in Melville Friday gave put them one point ahead of Humboldt for the 4th most points overall, divisions aside, which could prove big down the road should both teams advance, as teams get re-seeded by points in the Semi-Finals.
Michael McChesney scored his 30th goal of the season Friday, becoming the sixth player in the league to hit that plateau this season, and third Bruin (Zach Goberis, 34 / Kaelan Holt, 31). Kaelan Holt added his 31st, while Arthur Miller (1g-1a), Jayden Davis (1g-1a) and Johnny Witzke had the others. Bo Didur made 35/38 saves for the Bruins (34-19-3-2).
Estevan will take on #6 Kindersley in the Quarter-Finals with Games 1 & 2 Friday and Saturday in Estevan.
Isaac Embree, Ethan Kopycyzn and Shane Sherban all had a goal and an assist for the Millionaires (23-31-2-2), who take the 10th and final playoff seed into their Best-of-Three Wild Card series which kicks off Sunday in Weyburn.
Rob Johnson scored twice and Nate Hooper had three assists as the Flin Flon Bombers capped their regular season with an 8-3 win over La Ronge.
Caleb Moretz and ‘AP’ call-up Matt Floddell each had a goal and an assist. Brandson Hein scored, giving him 11-goals and 20-points in 19-games since joining the Bombers after Christmas. Mason Martin, Ethan Daniels and Dawson McKenzie also hit the net.
The Bombers (24-26-3-5) are playing well heading into the playoffs. They’ll host Notre Dame in Game 1 of their Wild Card series Sunday, with Games 2 and 3 if necessary going in Wilcox Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Ice Wolves (10-45-0-3) dropped their final six games of the regular season. Shane Hounsell, Mitch Zambon and Dawson Boehm scored for them on Friday, and all figure to be key parts returning next season.
The top two teams in the standings squared off one final time in the regular season. A couple weeks ago it looked like the game might very well decide top spot, but the Nipawin Hawks wrapped up that honour well before Friday’s date with the Battlefords North Stars, and the game wound up featuring several Midget call-ups on both sides as the two clubs rested many of their veterans.
One of those call-ups was Adam Beckman, who plays ‘AAA’ for the Battlefords Stars, but opened the scoring and finished with a goal and an assist for Nipawin. The 2001-born forward has 44-goals and 78-points in 41-games in Midget ‘AAA’ this season, and even played a game with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. A pair of veterans took it from there, as Michael Grant and Grant Baetsen scored twice each for Nipawin (43-8-3-4).
Dakota Huebner led the Stars (42-14-2-0) with a goal and an assist. Brad Girard and Dylan Esau had the others. Esau also plays for the Midget ‘AAA’ Stars.
Layne Young didn’t play on Friday but he officially finishes as the goal, and point scoring champ this season with 35-goals and 107-points, the highest point-total in 17 years.
After the Wild Card series, the lowest remaining Wild Card seed will face Nipawin in the Quarter-Finals, while the North Stars would get the other in a Best-of-Seven.