By Craig Stein
Justen Close stopped all 31 shots he faced, for his second shutout this season, as the Kindersley Klippers blanked the visiting Notre Dame Hounds 3-0 on Saturday night.
The Klippers hit a rough patch in December and Saturday was their second win since December 5th, and the first personally for Close since that date, which was, also a 3-0 shutout versus the Hounds. Saturday’s performance lowers his GAA back below 3.00 and lifts his save percentage to .918, still among the league leaders.
Tyler Traptow, Keillan Olson and Eddie May did the scoring Saturday for the Klippers (15-15-2-2), who move back to .500, and remain alone in 8th place overall.
The Hounds (21-11-1-3) managed just one goal on their latest Battlefords-Kindersley trip. Jack Ryan stopped 27/30 shots in the loss to the Klippers.
The two clubs have a rematch set for Tuesday in Wilcox, where the Klippers will begin a road swing of their own, a four games in five nights stretch that will also see stops in Estevan twice, and one in Weyburn.
With the Hounds unable to pick up points over the weekend, the middle of the standings are now even tighter. Notre Dame remains in 5th place overall, but just two points separate 5th place from 7th.
The Humboldt Broncos are back into sole possession of 6th, thanks to finishing their weekend swing with a 2-1 overtime victory in Estevan.
Jaxon Joseph scored 3:27 into extra time to get the Broncos (20-13-3-2) the key extra point, keeping them a point up on now 7th place Weyburn.
Logan Hunter also scored, Logan Schatz assisted on both Bronco goals, and Parker Tobin made 23/24 saves, and was backed up by Sam-Jaxon Visscher, as Jacob Wassermann suited up and played for the WHL’s Regina Pats on Saturday.
Michael McChesney scored the only goal for the Bruins (22-13-3-1), and Bo Didur made 28/30 saves. Estevan is 3rd overall due to their Viterra Division lead, but they’re just four points up on Weyburn.
Speaking of the Red Wings, they earned a single point Saturday, as the Melfort Mustangs followed their win in Estevan Friday, with a 5-4 overtime victory in Weyburn 24 hours later.
That’s a quiet four game win streak for the Mustangs (24-7-4-1), who’ve been under the shadow of Nipawin’s current tear.
Justin Ball (1g-1a) picked up the OT winner, while Carson Albrecht (1g-1a), Andrew Thompson, Colin Schmidt and Kalem Zary also scored.
Ben Hiltz scored twice for the Red Wings (20-13-4-0), his 19th and 20th of the season. Cade Kowalski and Landon Walters had two assists each, while Carson Scheschuk and Dexter Robinson rounded out the scoring.
The Nipawin Hawks’ winning streak is now at 10, and they’ve played 18 in a row without a regulation loss, after the Hawks completed a home and home sweep over La Ronge Saturday, with an 8-1 win on home ice.
Chad McCartney had a five point night with a goal and four assists. Michael Grant (2g-1a) and Kenzie Arnold scored twice each, with Austin Mikesch (1g-1a), Logan Casavant (1g-1a) and Grant Baetsen rounding out the scoring. Jake Anthony made 20/21 saves, and hasn’t lost a start in regulation since November 4th.
The Hawks are now 28-5-2-2, good for 60 points in 37 games. Their run will get put to the test on Tuesday, when Nipawin welcomes the Battlefords North Stars. The Stars are 2nd overall in the league, six points back of the Hawks but with four games in hand. The Stars still maintain a slight edge in winning percentage, at .818 compared to the Hawks’ .811%.
The Ice Wolves (7-27-0-2) have now dropped five in a row. Matthew Perkins scored his 9th of the season, on the powerplay Saturday night.
Since coming over from the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats, Flin Flon forward Rob Johnson has been on a nice run, putting up 9-goals and 18-points in 16-games.
Johnson scored again on Saturday, giving him 3-goals and 8-points during a four game point streak, and the Bombers hung on to defeat the Yorkton Terriers 3-2, for their fifth straight win.
Ethan Daniels had a goal and an assist, for his third straight multi-point game (2g-4a in last 3), and Jordan McCausland rounded out the scoring. Brenden Newton made his second start in as many nights, making 37/39 saves.
Ben Laidlaw was peppered at the other end, making 57 saves on 60 shots in goal for the Terriers (8-26-2-1). Cody Bruchkowski (1g-1a) and Cole Keenleyside did their scoring, making a 3-0 game close with third period markers. Bruchkowski has 14-goals and 31-points in 32-games, and is riding a five game point streak (4g-4a).
Flin Flon’s in Melfort on Tuesday as part of a three game schedule which also sees Battlefords in Nipawin and Kindersley in Notre Dame.