By Craig Stein
BRONCOS WIN SEVENTH STRAIGHT, ALONE IN FOURTH
Four of the five Saturday night SJHL games saw a team in the top six defeat a club in the bottom six of the standings.
That was the case in Humboldt, where the Broncos ran their winning streak to seven straight with a 6-2 win over the Weyburn Red Wings. Humboldt came into action in a three way tie for fourth overall, and with Flin Flon losing Saturday, and Battlefords having the night off, the Broncos (31-16-2-1) now occupy sole possession of fourth spot.
Brayden Camrud (2g-1a) and Colin MacPherson scored twice each on Saturday. For MacPherson, it was the first two SJHL goals for the 6’5″, 225 lb defenseman in his 19th game with the club. Drew Warkentine (1g-1a) scored his 20th goal in just his 25th game this season, while Bryson Cecconi rounded out the scoring and Rayce Ramsay made 22/24 saves.
Jordan Kazymyra (1g-1a) and Ben Hiltz replied for the Red Wings (15-29-4-1), who picked up just one point on their three game trip. They’re now winless in five (0-4-0-1) and still two points back of Melville for a playoff spot. Both the Wings and Millionaires have nine games left, including two head to head, both in Melville in late February.
The only game that did not see a top six and bottom six team going head to head was in Flin Flon, where the Bombers and Melfort Mustangs were separated by just a point heading into Saturday’s action.
The Bombers were part of a three way tie for fourth while Melfort was one point back, and they leapfrogged Flin Flon with an 8-4 road win.
It looked promising for the Bombers early, as they quickly led 3-1 in the first period, but the Mustangs would score the next five straight and seven of the final eight goals on the night.
Colin Schmidt, exactly three weeks removed from a hat trick, did one better in Flin Flon, leading Melfort with four goals. Zach Anderson and George King each had a goal and two assists, while Jake Hobson (1g-1a) and Alex Rondeau added the others.
The Mustangs (30-15-4-0) have won four in a row, and sit alone in 5th place, one point back of Humboldt, one up on both Flin Flon and Battlefords now.
Daylan Marchi opened the scoring for the Bombers (30-16-1-2) just 2:02 into the contest. Donavan Houle-Villeneuve, Nate Hooper and Caleb Moretz each added a goal and an assist.
The Bombers have another crucial four games in five nights road trip this week beginning Tuesday. They’ll be in Humboldt, Weyburn, Estevan and Notre Dame.
Will Koop and TJ Irey both scored twice, leading the Estevan Bruins to their ninth win in their last 10 games, a 6-2 win in Melville.
Jayden Davis (1g-1a) and Kade McMillen also found the net and Kadin Kilpatrick made 20/22 saves as the Bruins (27-21-2-1) stretched their lead to six points at the top of the Viterra Division over Yorkton.
Daniel Liberty (1g-1a) and Ryan Butler did the scoring for the Millionaires (15-27-4-3). They’re off until a home and home with Yorkton Friday and Saturday. After that they have four more in a row at home, capped with two against Weyburn Feb 23 and Feb 27.
With Humboldt keeping the pressure on right behind them, the Kindersley Klippers won their fourth in a row, 4-2 over Yorkton to keep the Broncos two points back of the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division lead. Kindersley also has two games in hand on Humboldt.
After a scoreless first period, the Klippers (31-12-3-2) rattled off three in the second to lead 3-0. The first one from Devon Cyr before Caden Benson scored a pair.
Aiden Bulych and Branden Klatt (1g-1a) scored for the Terriers (25-24-1-0) to cut it to 3-2, before Noah Bankowski put it away with an empty-netter.
Justen Close made 33/35 saves in the win, while Ryan Ouelette was also solid for Yorkton, turning away 31/34 shots.
With the Terriers now six points back of Estevan for the Viterra Division lead, it’s looking more and more like a Yorkton vs Notre Dame 8th vs 9th Wild Card series, with only home ice to be determined, but the Terriers do have a game in hand on Estevan, the head to head tie-breaker, and eight games remaining to get back into the division pennant conversation.
The Nipawin Hawks gained some more cushion at the top of the Sherwood Division, while also mathematically eliminating the La Ronge Ice Wolves from playoff contention with a 4-3 win Saturday in Nipawin.
Rookie Michael Makarenko scored twice for the Hawks (35-12-1-2), while Brodie Girod and Jack Lenchyshyn scored in the first period. It was the first SJHL for the big rookie defenseman Lenchyshyn. Patrick Pugliese made 17/20 saves, running his record to 15-2. Nipawin leads Melfort by nine points at the top of the Sherwood, while they’re still six points up on Kindersley for the league lead. Kindersley has two games in hand, and they go head to head Tuesday in Nipawin.
Jake Gudjonson (1g-1a), Jordan Mish and Antonio Di Paolo scored, and Brendan Benoit made 36/40 saves for the Ice Wolves (10-39-1-1).
Nipawin’s right back on home ice again on Sunday at 6:00 as the Battlefords North Stars come to town.