It’s the first Source Embroidery Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Power Rankings of the 2022 calendar year!
1. Humboldt Broncos (27-9-0-0) – 1st last week – Assistant Coach Curt Toneff is gone to coach Merritt in the BCHL, but WHL veteran Jerzy Orchard is a nice return. A five-game win streak to end 2021 was ended in Game 1 of 2022 vs. the red-hot Melville Mils, but this team has more than enough cache to stay No. 1.
2. Melfort Mustangs (22-9-1-4) – 3rd last week – Nine wins in a row, the last four straight coming against their arch-rival Nipawin Hawks, and No. 1 goaltender Joel Favreau finally looks like he’s back. Nolan Doell and Mark Snarr are not back yet, but this team is just cruising right now. Marco Lopez is on an absolute tear!
3. Estevan Bruins (24-7-1-2) – 2nd last week – Losses in two of the last three, including a dramatic shootout loss in Battlefords to kick off 2022, is a rare blip in an otherwise magnificent last couple of months for Jason Tatarnic’s men. It’s more Melfort’s streak than anything the Bruins did wrong that has them fall one spot. Estevan’s team goal difference of +76 is a full 12 goals more than second-placed Humboldt!
4. Flin Flon Bombers (22-10-0-1) – 4th last week – The ad of huge Drew Kuzma to this line-up looks brilliant as the former Weyburn Red Wing is one of the truly underrated players in the league. Injuries remain an issue but the return of Jaeden Mercier has to be encouraging to Coach Mike Reagan and crew, as is a 3-2 win over Nipawin to kick off 2022 this past week.
5. Battlefords North Stars (19-9-4-1) – 5th last week – A huge, character signature shootout win over the Estevan Bruins to start 2022 last Tuesday was Brayden Klimosko’s 100th as the bench boss in NB. More good news for Stars fans is that they have five of six games to open the year at home.
6. Yorkton Terriers (16-14-1-4) – 6th last week – Rookie goaltender Kael DePape and this D-Corps don’t give up much, and the Terriers were only beaten in regulation this past week by Weyburn for the first time in a long time. Tyson Janzen is firmly in the conversation for best all-around defenceman in the SJHL this year.
7. La Ronge Ice Wolves (14-17-1-2) – 7th last week – Postponements have hurt the Wolves to start 2022, but they were outstanding in December and have four of their next six at Mel Hegland Uniplex. A good headspace and a time to get Xavier Cannon healthy in the net can only be a good thing for La Ronge heading into the new year.
8. Melville Millionaires (12-16-7-0) – 8th last week – Winners of four of their last five, the Mils proved they were a tough out on any night for anyone this past week with a signature 5-3 victory at home vs. the No. 1 Humboldt Broncos. Both Alexis Giroux and Jared Thompson have been excellent in the net, and a D1 team needs to commit to Noah Wills right now – that kid is for real.
9. Notre Dame Hounds (14-14-2-1) – 9th last week – Reinforcements are on the way to ND with three 20-year-old forwards added over the break. The speed and tenacity game played by ex-Weyburn Red Wings Nik Sombrowski should be a perfect fit for Brett Pilkington’s men, and no team has played fewer games so far this year than the Hounds. Connor Nolan has been outstanding of late as well, and Austin Elliott is back from the Western Hockey League in net.
10. Kindersley Klippers (12-18-0-1) – 11th last week – The only team that has played a few games as ND is Kindersley (both at 31), and on their night Ken Plaquin’s team has proven they can beat anyone – especially when Matt Pesenti is healthy and on his game. Led by new captain Jaxon Georget, there is a lot to like in this young group.
11. Nipawin Hawks (12-19-0-5) – 10th last week – Five losses in a row have been tough on this proud community, but this team is finally getting healthy, and it’s never easy to go into the Centennial Arena. Five teams are bunched up for the final two playoff spots as things stand, so there is still plenty of time for the Hawks to go on a run and get in.
12. Weyburn Red Wings (9-21-3-0) – 12th last week – A big win over Yorkton followed a big post-roster-freeze sell-off in which Coach Cody Mapes did a great job getting a huge haul for his veteran assets. A young team with little to lose is almost always dangerous – beware of Weyburn in the role of spoiler the rest of the way, and they’re only 10 points out of a playoff spot with a lot of hockey to go.