By Mike Stackhouse
Key Returnees: D Jake Heerspink, D Johnny Witzke, D Mark Edmands, D Tyler Hengen, D Nolan Ferguson, F Michael McChesney, F Kaelen Holt, F Hayden Guilderson, F Zach Goberis, F Isaac Embree, F Matt Kesslering, F Jake Fletcher.
Potential Newcomers: F Tyson Manz scored 16 goals in his final Midget AAA season and could be a source of secondary offensive. He plays with grit and has good speed. Undersized, but that hasn’t stopped him from advancing through the ranks.
F Tanner Manz may be the better offensive stat producer of the two Manz brothers. He had 32-points with Moose Jaw (Midget AAA) and can play left wing or centre. Hockey IQ is plus.
F Andrew Warhoftig collected 6 goals and 7 assists in 29 games with Dallas U18 last season. Good skater, solid character, likes to shoot.
D Aigne McGeady-Bruce is an American born defenseman who comes to the SJHL as a 19-year-old. He has good size and will be counted on to play a shut down role, but can also get his shot on net. Had 16-points in 42-games with Nelson Leafs (KIJHL) last year.
F Matthew Chekay is a product from the Regina Midget AAA program and he popped 17-goals and 15-assists in 44-games. He is a hard worker, has played at a very high level in the midget ranks for a couple of years and is a consummate team player.
Key grads from last year: Nathan Alalouf, Josh Rieger, Evan Scott, Lynnden Pastachak, Matt McNeil, Jason Miller, Levi Barnstable.
Eligible, but not returning: Curtis Meger (WHL), Jayden Davis (WHL), Brendan Mark, Cole Rooney.
Overall outlook: The Bruins surprised observers last year with some real good recruits and they may have to do the same again this season. Goaltending is wide open if Meger makes the WHL. Rieger is a big loss after being so reliable for years. There is some higher end returnees up front that should make them fun to watch.
Who’s Back: G Colby Entz, D Mitchell Torrens, D Eric Soar, D Clayton Eisler, F Alex Maticic, F Cory Schillo, F Tucker Scantlebury, F Damian Bentz, F Taylor Elmy, F Trevor Paradise, F Dayton Heino, F Ryan Mignault
Who’s New Goalie Josh King starts his junior career after an excellent season with the Maple Leaf Athletic Club in Alberta. He’s shown well through the early going and looks very poised.
Defenseman Troy Williams was picked up from Flin Flon in the offseason and could be a number one defenseman. He plays very well in all areas.
Ryan Warner is a defenseman the Mils acquired in the Brandon Wells trade. He’s a tall, lanky player who looks after his own end well and is a solid teammate. He’s 19 and the Mils hope he takes a big development step.
Goals have been hard to come by in Melville in recent years, but Rylee Zimmer gives them their best offensive player since Ian McNulty. He has a shot at the league scoring title.
Forward Ethan Kopyczyn had 21-points in 56-games with Calgary (AJHL) as a junior rookie. His instincts are plus plus and he has an overall good skill set.
Aidan Steinke had 22-points in 32-games at the Midget AAA level in Alberta. He plays both ends of the rink well and blocks shots. Willing to make sacrifices and could be a fan favorite.
Peter Michailides scored 11-goals and 8-assists in 31-games with St. Alberta Midget AAA. He’s not afraid to shoot and is a strong physical player. Projects as an up and down winger who can play the wall with authority.
Ethan Eang scored 10-goals and 10-assists with MLAC in Alberta. He had 28-points the year previous and the Mils feel there is potential for him to develop into an above average offensive Junior ‘A’ player.
Jordan Mish played in Battleford AAA, picking up 26-points in 43-games. He also suited up for 12-games with the Mils. Reports are he’s had a great summer and has earned a full time role.
Who’s eligible, but not returning: Mathieu Jallabert, Logan Karakochuk, Chance Patterson, Jackson Nauss, Aaron Aragon, Jake Sutton, Brett Friesen, Dryden Wust, Logan Foster (WHL).
Overall outlook: The Mils have had a couple of down seasons, but are poised to return as a contender. Arguably, they may have the league’s top goalie (Entz) and top scorer (Zimmer), mixed in with one of the top 1-2 punches on defense (Soar & Williams). How everyone else slots in behind them will determine how big of a step forward this team can make.
WEYBURN RED WINGS
Key Returnees: G Carter Phair, G Jake MacLennan, D Mike Eskra, D Devon Becker, D Erik Olson, D Dylan McCabe, D Carson Scheschuk, D Jamieson Ree, F Cole Woodliffe, F Tyran Brown, F Landon Walters, F Noah Wozney, F Ben Hiltz.
Potential Newcomers: G Arik Weersink is a 20-year-old veteran from Grande Prairie (AJHL). He was Alberta’s Midget Goalie Of The Year (Bill Ranford Trophy) in his final year of AAA with Lethbridge.
D Jevon Schwean is a former first round bantam pick who played six games as a 16-year-old last year during the regular season and seven more in the playoffs.
D Garrett Szeremley is a big, mobile rookie defender with a solid skill set. He posted 26-points in his final Midget AAA season in Manitoba last year.
F Cade Kowalski tore up the Manitoba Midget AAA ranks with 63-points. He was third in points per game and led the league in overall assists.
F Dawson Atamanchuk is a 20-year-old veteran project stolen from the old Ron Rumball school of high end Junior ‘B’ players who ended up being impact in the SJHL. Atamanchuk is a former PJHL Rookie Of The Year, scoring two points per game with Delisle. He also played half of the season with Humboldt.
F Jordan Kazymyra comes from the highly successful Midget AAA program in Regina, where he scored 37-points in 43-games. He didn’t get as much attention as some of the more well known prospects from that team, but he’s an all-around performer.
F Derick Smith is a 19-year-old from the VIJHL, who terrorized goaltenders with 26-goals and 35-assists in 33-games with Comox Valley. He could provide immediate offense.
F Jessie Young comes as an 18-year-old with a handy toolbox of skills and was a key player with the Vancouver NE Chiefs of the BCMMHL.
The Red Wings also picked up a pair of forwards from La Ronge in the offseason in Shae Kiryk and Jeremy Velazquez. Velazquez had 7-points in 39-games split with the Stars and Wolves. Kiryk had 6-points in 38-games with the Klippers and Wolves.
Key grads from last year: Braden Mellon, Connor Burk, Ian Parker, Carson Rose, Jacob Wozney.
Eligible, but not returning: Shaun Fleming, Jarrett Metheral, Cody Chasse, Ryan Rothenburger, Aiden Wagner.
Overall outlook: Phair gives the Wings one of the best goalies in the league and that means a chance to win every night no matter what is in front of him. Eskra, if he can stay healthy, anchors a solid defense and if they can get higher end offensive punch from the kids Weyburn will be a force.
Key returnees: D Cody Dubas, F Shane Sherban, F Dexter Robinson, F Kaleb Bell, F Matthew Perkins, F Quinton Hobbs, F Cole Keenleyside, F Cody Illerbrun, F Jordan Hudson.
Potential Newcomers: Kyle Sargent is a defenseman who has SJHL experience from stints in Nipawin and Kindersley. He’ll get a chance to move to the front of the blueline and explore his overall game.
Josh Bryant is a 19-year-old who cut his junior teeth on a top Junior ‘B’ team last year in Regina and picked up 10-points in 38-games.
First year junior Charlie Risk is good skating mobile defenseman that will see lots of playing time in his rookie campaign with five regulars gone from last year’s blueline. He played Midget AAA in Medicine Hat.
18-year-old forward Dalton Ossman is a veteran of two Junior ‘A’ seasons and was acquired in the Welke trade. He scored 7-goals and 11-assists in 41-games and is looking at a sharp spike in ice time and opportunity with Yorkton.
Slater Strong was also picked up in the Welke trade and is 19, but also has two years junior experience. He has a nice two-way game and will be given a big opportunity with Yorkton as well.
Former first round bantam pick Austen Flaman (2015) is expected to make the team as a 17-year-old. He spent two years in Moose Jaw AAA. He’s quick, has a dynamic skill set, and should add immediate offense.
William Brochu comes to the Terriers as a 20-year-old having suited up at the Brewster Academy in New Hampshire the last two years. Skates well, has offensive ability.
Ben Solomon was a bantam pick of the Terriers in 2015 and is on the radar of the Calgary Hitmen. He played the last two years with the powerhouse Regina Pat Canadians and should step in, immediately, and be a strong skating blueliner with size.
Cody Bruchkowski lit up the Midget AAA ranks in Thunder Bay with 38-points in 22-games. He’s another candidate to step in and fill a top six void.
Dino Antoniadis was the captain of the Saskatoon Contacts last year. He’s a strong two-way forward with a nice shot and decent speed.
Mason Mullaney started last year with Yorkton and then ended up in the Junior B ranks for development. The big, strong winger is back and possesses a good shot and release.
Eligible but not returning: Matt Vernon, Regan Seiferling, LJ Naccarato, Jared Legien, Carson Welke, Mckenzie Welke, Tyler Baier.
Grads: Nathan Hargrave, Kevin Wolf, Reid Anderson, Corwin Stevely, Dakota Odgers, Jordan Ross.
Overall outlook: The Terriers may be younger than expected after trade departures of a few players, school decisions (Naccarato), and a WHL opportunity (Legien); but head coach Casey O’Brien likes his pool of players. There is a chance for veterans to step up and play key roles as well as for first year players to become immediate impact players. With two new goalies expected, stabilizing that position is a major factor. When O’Brien acquired Nathan Hargrave midseason last year, they were, instantly, a better club.