A few more things became official in the SJHL post-season race on Saturday, as the Battlefords North Stars wrapped up the regular season pennant and number one playoff seed, while the Weyburn Red Wings and Notre Dame both learned their fate as they’ll be on the outside looking in after Humboldt shut out Nipawin, knocking both the Wings and Hounds out of contention. Nipawin and Melfort also swapped spots in fifth and sixth as the Mustangs answered the Hawks’ loss with a victory.
Maybe the best game of the night saw the La Ronge Ice Wolves rally from a 3-1 third period deficit to beat the Notre Dame Hounds 4-3 in overtime, as the Ice Wolves (29-19-3-2) capped their four game swing with a 3-1-0-0 mark – an 8-0 loss in Estevan surrounded by wins in Melville, Weyburn and Notre Dame. The Hounds’ (17-28-5-2) single point kept their dim playoff hopes alive, for about 10 minutes until Humboldt’s win became final.
James Philpott scored the overtime winner for La Ronge, while Jordan Mish (1g-1a), Rowan Barnes and Spencer Kennedy also found the net, and Xavier Cannon made 28/31 saves.
Defenseman Gabriel Leblanc assisted on all three goals for the Hounds, with Jackson Tillinghast, Guillaume St. Onge and Sho Takai doing the scoring.
La Ronge finished the night where they started it, in fourth place, three points back of Yorkton, but now have a two point cushion over fifth spot, which is now occupied by Melfort.
A year ago the Battlefords North Stars held the second playoff seed, and after first place Nipawin lost to Yorkton in Round One, the Stars rolled all the way to a Canalta Cup Championship. This year, the defending champs led the standings from start to finish, and on Saturday night, officially wrapped up top spot in the regular season with a 4-1 win over second place Flin Flon.
The Stars (43-9-2-0) now sit with 88 points, 15 up on the Bombers, and Flin Flon’s down to six games remaining, fairly comfortably in the second slot.
Battlefords bounced back from Friday’s 6-1 loss at the Whitney, as Adam Dmyterko made his first start in two weeks, and stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced. Matthew Fletcher, Kaden Boser, Matthias Urbanski and Austin Becker did the scoring.
Donavan Houle-Villeneuve notched his 30th of the season for the Bombers (34-13-5-0), becoming the fourth SJHL player this season to hit that mark, joining teammate Cole Rafuse. Jacob Delorme made 37/40 saves in the loss. The Bombers are seven points up on third place Yorkton, and the Terriers have five games left.
The Humboldt Broncos knocked two teams out of the playoff race they didn’t even play on Saturday, as their 3-0 shutout over Nipawin mathematically eliminated both Weyburn and Notre Dame from post-season contention.
The Broncos (23-21-7-2) surrendered six goals on just 23 shots in a loss to Yorkton on Friday, but 24 hours later, Brendan Forman stopped all 26 shots he faced for his second shutout this season. Nicksha Eric, Logan Kurki and Justin Jamer scored for Humboldt.
Dalton Dosch made 30/33 saves in goal for the Hawks (28-20-3-1) who are right back in action Sunday at 6:00, kicking off a five game homestand against the Battlefords North Stars. Nipawin marched from sixth to third in the standings over the past couple weeks, but now find themselves back in sixth in the tight middle of the standings.
17-year-old Ben Tkachuk had a goal and two assists, leading the Melfort Mustangs to a 7-1 win over the visiting Melville Millionaires.
Alex Rondeau, Austin Nault, Ben Chase, Colton Schell and Gabe Odowichuk all had a goal and an assist, while defenseman Vaclav Prospal rounded out the scoring with his first SJHL goal, and Shawn Parkinson made 24/25 saves.
The win jumped the Mustangs (26-16-6-3) past Nipawin and into fifth place in the overall standings, two points back of La Ronge for fourth and a home ice playoff spot.
For a second straight night, Luke Nkwama scored the only goal for the Millionaires (15-30-2-4), and this one was his team-leading 20th of the season, which is 15% of his team’s goals this year.
The Kindersley Klippers’ playoff hopes took a hit on Saturday, as Humboldt won, and they lost, 3-2 to the Yorkton Terriers.
Yorkton scored three second period goals, courtesy of Alec Zawatsky (20th of the season), Kaeden Taphorn and Ethan Robson, while Matthew Pesenti made 32/34 saves against his former team, as the Terriers (32-19-1-1) won their fifth straight game and sit three points ahead of La Ronge in third place.
Tyler Traptow and Ethan King scored for the Klippers (21-24-6-1) and Steven Bacovsky made 18/21 saves.
Kindersley’s now six points back of Humboldt for the eighth and final playoff spot with a game in hand, and have a must-win game coming up in Humboldt on Monday afternoon. A regulation loss would leave them eight points back with five games to go, while a win would cut that gap to just four, still with a game in hand.