By Dave Leaderhouse
An emotionally-charged opening week is now in the rearview mirror with home openers having been held in all but one of the 12 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League centres.
That final home-ice debut will kick off the second full weekend of the regular schedule when the Yorkton Terriers entertain the Weyburn Red Wings on Friday.
Yorkton began the season with quick trips to Weyburn and Estevan during the first week, but they will get a taste of home cooking this weekend before heading to Warman on Sunday for the annual Showcase, an event that brings all 12 teams into one location for four days of action.
The Showcase, which was played in Saskatoon last year, is held early in the season to accommodate the bevy of scouts from various levels of hockey that are beginning their season-long evaluation of talent for their respective programs. The event has definitely been a benefit to the league as more and more players are getting noticed for opportunities at a higher level, including post-secondary scholarships for when their junior playing days are completed.
Prior to the switch to the centrally-located city of Warman, there are a handful of games to be played beginning with the aforementioned home opener of the Terriers in Yorkton against Weyburn.
Also taking to the ice on Friday is a Sherwood Division match-up between the Nipawin Hawks and Flin Flon Bombers while the Melville Millionaires entertain the Notre Dame Hounds and the Melfort Mustangs travel to Kindersley to face the Klippers.
Saturday has just two games with the Bombers and Hawks finishing off a home-and-home set, this time at the Cage in Nipawin, while the Battlefords visit the Broncos in Humboldt. That will be the first game back at the Elgar Peterson Arena since an emotional season opener captivated a nationally-televised audience when the Broncos completed a successful rebuild of a franchise that was physically and emotionally depleted following the tragic bus crash last April that claimed 16 lives and injured 13 others.
The Showcase then takes centre stage on Sunday with the first of 12 games to be played beginning at 4 p.m. with Melfort facing Kindersley. One other game on Sunday has the Battlefords meeting La Ronge and then it is four games each day on Monday and Tuesday before the event concludes with a pair of early tilts on Wednesday.
All games count in the regular-season standings, not unlike a second Showcase in January when the top prospects from Manitoba and Saskatchewan get together in Regina. This will be the second year for the Man/Sask Showcase and from all reports last year’s inaugural event was a huge success.
Following this weekend, and the Showcase event early next week, the league will then settle into a comfortable routine with all ceremonial contests behind them. It is expected to be a highly competitive season and with it being the 50th anniversary of the rebirth of the SJHL the long winter months will certainly be filled with intense action.
Nipawin at Flin Flon
Melfort at Kindersley
Notre Dame at Melville
Weyburn at Yorkton
Battlefords at Humboldt
Flin Flon at Nipawin
SHOWCASE (All games at the Legends Centre in Warman)
4 p.m. – Melfort vs Kindersley
7 p.m. – Battlefords vs La Ronge
10 a.m. – Yorkton vs Nipawin
1 p.m. – Melville vs Flin Flon
4 p.m. – La Ronge vs Weyburn
7 p.m – Kindersley vs Estevan
10 a.m. – Weyburn vs Battlefords
1 p.m. – Estevan vs Humboldt
4 p.m. – Notre Dame vs Melfort
7 p.m. – Flin Flon vs Yorkton
11 a.m. – Nipawin vs Notre Dame
2 p.m. – Humboldt vs Melville