By Craig Stein
TWO DIVISION CROWNS, AND FINAL PLAYOFF SPOT WILL COME DOWN TO TUESDAY
The Global Ag Risk Solutions, and the Sherwood Division titles will come down to the final night of regular season action on Tuesday, and so too will the last playoff spot.
Declan Hobbs made 26 saves for his sixth shutout this season, and the 11th of his SJHL career as the Nipawin Hawks jumped back into top spot in the overall standings with a 3-0 win in Melfort.
It was a scoreless draw until 2:26 left in the game when Carson Erhardt poked home a wild scramble for the Hawks (37-15-2-3). Austen Flaman and Brodie Girod added two more late, both into empty nets.
Noah Giesbrecht made 19/20 saves in goal for the Mustangs (37-16-4-0), who see their 11 game winning streak come to an end.
Nipawin’s now back in front of Melfort by a point for the Sherwood Division and league lead. Melfort will hold the tie-breaker as they have 35 Regulation + Overtime wins to Nipawin’s 32. Whoever does not win the division will play in the 4th vs 5th Quarter-Final against Kindersley or Battlefords.
It was a wild game from start to finish in Humboldt, but especially in the second period alone, where the Battlefords North Stars out-lasted the Broncos 9-6.
The North Stars (34-13-5-5) led 3-1 after the first period, before Humboldt scored five times in a 3:49 span in the middle of the second. Before the period was even done, the Stars answered with three more in 2:09, as the two teams combined for seven goals in the frame.
Brett Gammer scored twice for Battlefords while Braydon Buziak and Owen Lamb each had a goal and two assists. Ryan Gil, Dayton Heino, Elijah Loon-Stewardson, Quinton Loon-Stewardson and Kaden Boser rounded it out.
Mitch Zambon scored twice for the Broncos (35-19-3-1), who see their regular season come to an end. They’ll finish in sixth place and face the Viterra Division champion Estevan Bruins in the Quarter-Finals, which don’t start for nearly two weeks with Games 1 & 2 expected to go March 15th and 16th in Estevan.
Drew Warkentine (1g-1a), Michael Clarke (1g-1a), Cole Kirkup and Bryson Cecconi also found the net for Humboldt.
Battlefords holds a one point lead over Kinderlsey for the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division lead, and they’ll host the Klippers on Tuesday. As of now Battlefords has the tie-breaker with 32 ROW compared to Kindersley’s 31. Should Kindersley win that game in overtime, they’d be even in points, and ROW, and it would come down to the head-to-head season series.
Speaking of those Klippers, they needed to win Friday (with Battlefords winning), to prevent the North Stars from clinching the division before they even meet Tuesday, and they did just that, defeating the Notre Dame Hounds 6-2.
Ty Enns led the way with a goal and two assists, while Brendon Boberly (1g-1a), Noah Bankowski (1g-1a), Austin Nault, Kyle Bosch and Devon Cyr also scored. Justen Close made 27/29 saves for the Klippers (36-16-3-2), who led 4-0 after the first period.
Cole Stevenson and Nolan Renwick (1g-1a) got Notre Dame on the board in the second period. The Hounds (25-23-5-5) finish the season without wins in their final four games (0-3-0-1), but still finish a pair of games above .500, as the league’s top nine teams will all finish with above .500 marks.
The Hounds’ loss and Yorkton’s win Saturday means Notre Dame will finish 9th and play the 8th place Terriers in the Best-of-Three Wild Card series.
Yorkton helped their own cause getting home ice in the Wild Card series as they avenged Friday’s lopsided home loss to Melville, by returning the favour to the Millionaires, with a 7-2 decision on the road Saturday.
Quinten Hobbs had a pair of goals while Colby Brandt and Branden Klatt each had a goal and two assists. Cody Bruchkowski, Brendan Mark and AP call-up Evan Sare (first SJHL in third game) also scored for the Terriers (30-26-1-0) while Ryan Ouelette made 36/38 saves.
Melville led 1-0 as Aidan Steinke opened the scoring. Yorkton scored the next seven before Jaden Shewchuk scored with 15 seconds left in the game. The Millionaires (16-31-6-4) are still tied with Weyburn for the final playoff spot heading into Game 58 on Tuesday. Melville’s on the road to Nipawin in what’s also a huge game for the Hawks. Weyburn will host Yorkton.
The Estevan Bruins knew their playoff fate coming into Saturday’s action as they’ll win the Viterra Division and finish third overall. But they still didn’t mind making life difficult on their rivals from Weyburn, beating the Red Wings 5-3 and keeping the Red Wings from taking sole possession of the final playoff spot. In fact, holding the tie-breaker with Melville, a Weyburn win on Saturday would have clinched them that spot.
Bryce Platt scored twice for the Bruins (31-22-3-2) on Saturday. Will Koop, Michael McChesney and Bryce Platt finsihed off the scoring as the Bruins wrap up their regular season with a third straight Viterra Division pennant. Grant Boldt stopped 16 of the 19 shots he faced as Estevan out-shot Weyburn 40-19.
Sean Olson (1g-1a), Connor Pyne and Jordan Kazymyra replied for the Red Wings (18-33-5-1) who would wrap up the final playoff spot with a win Tuesday against Yorkton, OR a Melville regulation loss in Nipawin, as Weyburn has the tie-breaker over Melville (16 ROW to 15).
It was a feel-good ending to a tough season for the La Ronge Ice Wolves, as their 2018-2019 campaign came to a close with a 4-3 shootout victory in front of their home fans over their rivals from Flin Flon.
Jordan Frey was spectacular in his regular season finale, as the 18-year-old made 40 saves and 3/3 in the shootout. His finest came while the Ice Wolves were short-handed in overtime when he dove and made a back hand glove save on a Brandon Hein shot from the slot.
On a last place club, Zach Bannister had a fantastic season, finishing with 28-goals and 70-points (7th in the league) after a goal and two assists on Saturday. Jordan Mish had a goal and an assist while Antonio Di Paolo capped a nice season on the La Ronge blue line with a goal. He finished with 13-goals and 40-points with the Ice Wolves (12-44-1-1).
Alec Cokley opened the scoring for Flin Flon with the rookie’s first SJHL goal. Vaughan Bamford also scored and Nate Hooper added a goal and assist, forcing overtime with a late third period powerplay goal.
The Bombers (33-20-1-3) will finish seventh in the overall standings, and will have to wait until Tuesday night to find out who they’ll face, and if they’ll have to head to Melville or Weyburn. With the travel distance it’s expected Bombers will start on the road for Game 1, before hosting Game 2, and Game 3 if necessary.