By Rory McGouran
The SJHL has always been well represented in a wide manner across the hockey landscape, with players eventually moving on to new clubs across the globe. Whatever direction their career takes them in, they continue to promote the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League to the highest of standards for future generations to come.
With the WHL’s Return-to-Play bubbles now in action, this four-part series will take an in-depth look at the talent in the Western Hockey League that once suited up in an SJHL jersey.
WHL’s BC Division
The WHL’s BC Division features the five WHL clubs who call British Columbia home. The BC Division was granted approval to play within two hubs, Kamloops and Kelowna, with regular season competition starting on March 26th.
Only four SJHL alumni are currently competing within the WHL’s BC Division, making it the least active of SJHL representation among the four WHL divisions. Just 4 of the 12 SJHL teams are represented within the BC Division.
Flin Flon Bombers
Hometown boy, Justin Lies, made a quick trip back to his old stomping grounds as he awaited the return of the WHL in British Columbia.
Time in Flin Flon
Lies, a Flin Flon native, came back home and suited up for the Bombers for one game on loan in 2020/21. He did not register a point in his lone outing, but seeing as he’s only 17-years-old, time will tell if he’s back with the Bombers to cap off his junior career in the future.
Time in the WHL
2019/20 was the rookie season for Lies in the WHL as a member of the Vancouver Giants. In 46 games as a rookie, Lies scored his first career WHL goal and added six assists. He’ll look to build off those numbers in his second season within the WHL’s BC hubs this year.
Stats with Flin Flon
F – Justin Lies – 2020/21 (LOAN) 1gp, 0g-0a-0pts, 2 PIMS
Humboldt’s lone rep on the west coast was once a very high draft pick of the green and gold, a draft pick that over exceeded his stock, resulting in just one game played for the Broncos.
Time in Humboldt
Matthew Smith was the 5th overall pick of the Broncos back in 2015. That same year he was drafted 145th by the Victoria Royals. Smith got the call up to the Broncos for one game from the Saskatoon Blazers in 2016/17 where he picked up one assist. That was the extent of the 20-year-old’s SJHL career as he’s called Victoria home ever since.
Time in WHL
With 189 games played in the WHL, all for the Royals over the past three seasons, Smith is on track to eclipse the 200 games played mark while inside the BC hubs this season. The Saskatoon native has accumulated 6 goals and 26 assists throughout that time on the back-end with Victoria.
Stats with Humboldt
D – Matthew Smith – 2016/17 – 1gp, 0g-1a-1pts, 0 PIMS – Drafted by Humboldt (5th overall in 2015)
Notre Dame Hounds
After spending four years of grooming and development from U15 to U18 within Notre Dame’s athletic and academic compound, the Junior-A Hounds would have loved to see Quinn Schmiemann stick around as a mainstay on their blue line. However, at that time, the talent of the now NHL draft pick was instantly ready to be tapped in the WHL.
Time in Notre Dame
Schmiemann spent four straight years with Athol Murray College and the Hounds youth organizations, culminating with the Telus Cup National Championship in 2017/18. The Wilcox, SK product produced 52 points in 41 regular season games in his final year of U18, remarkable numbers by a defenseman, and continued in the playoffs with 12 points in 9 games. That same year, the Junior-A Hounds called Schmiemann up for one game, which would be his last in the SJHL.
Time in the WHL
Schmiemann has spent the past two season with the Kamloops Blazers where he has continued his offensive outputs, picking up 65 pts (10g-55a) in 121 career games. The Tampa Bay Lightning saw the potential in the now 19-year-old, drafting Schmiemann in the 6th round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Stats with Notre Dame
D- Quinn Schmiemann – 2017/18 – 1gp, 0g-0a-0pts, 0 PIMS.
Although it’s only been 10 games, 14 if you include playoffs, Vaughn Watterodt has spent the most time in the SJHL among all WHL players inside the BC hubs.
Time in Yorkton
Watterodt was tossed into the SJHL fire almost immediately. He got a small taste of regular season action last year, scoring his first career goal in four regular season games. Then the Terriers called him up once again for the 2019/20 playoffs. Watterodt was fresh off his 16th birthday at the time, but didn’t look one bit out of place. Yorkton’s 29th overall pick in 2019 put on the Terriers jersey once again to start the 2020/21 campaign where he added two goals and an assist to his SJHL resume in six games played.
Time in WHL
Watterodt is set to make his WHL debut inside the BC hubs this season with the Kamloops Blazers. The Rosetown, SK native just turned 17-years-old on February 13th 2021.
Stats with Yorkton
Vaughn Watterodt – 2019/20, 2020/21 – 10, 3g-1a-4pts, 19 PIMS – Drafted by Yorkton (29th overall in 2019)