Voice of the ND Hounds
Here are my 10 things for Week 9 in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
1. ND Down The Middle – There is not a team more loaded down the middle, in my humble opinion, than Notre Dame when coach Phil Roy has the full pick of his roster. Nolan Renwick, Jared Hamm, Jakob Breault, and Cole Stevenson are all face-off winning machines, can play elite defensive hockey, and the lowest scorer of the group – the monster Telus Cup champion Stevenson – has four goals and seven points in only 18 games as a rookie.Very impressive bunch.
2. Where There’s a Wil-ton, There’s a Way – Earlier in the year, I wrote about how high my expectations were for rookie ND centreman Nolan Renwick, and it has to be said that the veteran Marshall Wilton on his left, is equal parts a big reason for Renwick’s success,and equal parts a very real beneficiary of it. Both guys are 6-foot-2, over 200 pounds, and can protect the puck with the best of them in the SJHL – so probably not a lot of fun to deal with. It is awesome to see how well Marshall has played, really since the Oct. 11 dud against Flin Flon, and the club’s only 20-year-old forward has been demonstrating how to deal with that failure, putting up 12 points in the eight contests, including this past weekend where he chipped in three assists in a win at Battlefords. Watch out for the Wiltrain.
3. Melville Cashes Its Drayton Valley Chip – It has certainly been a tough year for coach Devin Windle in Melville, one of the league’s genuinely good guys. But perhaps hope is on the horizon, after a 5-4 win over dread rivals Yorkton on Saturday night in Melville, and a deal that brought in 19-year-old forward John Elliott from the Neepawa Natives of the Manitoba league. The especially interesting part of this move (to me, anyway) is that Elliott becomes the fourth former Drayton Valley Thunder (Alberta Junior Hockey League) alumnus on the Millionaires, joining Sam De Melo, Josh Borynec, and Max McPeak. The four played under Melville assistant coach Kyle Adams last year, as Adams was the Thunder’s bench boss until early November. We’ll see if it’s revival time at the Horizon Credit Union Centre!
4. Is Nipawin Back? –I did clamour for the fine fans of Nipawin to not panic, and after rallying from down 3-0 in the first period in Wilcox against the Hounds on Oct. 21, the Hawks have rewarded that faith. The elite goaltending tandem of Declan Hobbs and Patrick Pugliese gave up a grand total of one goal in the next three games after the ND shootout win, including a ridiculous 39-save 2-0 shutout win for Hobbs at home against the high-powered Estevan Bruins last Tuesday. Doug Johnson’s crew is back in an Honourable Mention slot in the CJHL rankings this week, ahead of a tantalizing trip to Yorkton’s Farrell Agencies Arena. Ah, this season is just incredible drama folks!
5. The Showcase Is Back! – And speaking of incredible drama, the SJHL/MJHL All-Star showcase is back, returning to Regina’s Co-operators Arena on Jan. 14 and 15. Three all-star squads from each league will do battle against each other over the two days, and here’s hoping yours truly will get another crack at broadcasting all the fun, as I did last year. You can find all the details on the league website here: https://www.sjhl.ca/news_article/show/963809.
6. Consistent Cade – About the only good news for Weyburn in their awful October, except perhaps for the fact that there is still lots of season left, is the dynamite, electric play of Ferris State University (NCAA Division I) commit Cade Cowalski. The pride and joy of Morden, MB has only been kept off the scoresheet three times this year, and has seven points over his most recent five-game point-scoring streak. I know it’s been a hard ride Wings fans, but with captain Cade in the lead, you have to think things are going to turn around on a season that had such promise at the beginning.
7. La Ronge Gone Streaking – On the flip side, the La Ronge Ice Wolves are flying high after taking down the Wings Wednesday, and the Estevan Bruins Friday in the brilliant debut of long-time Surrey Eagle (British Columbia Hockey League) Daniel Davidson in net. Davidson, 20, made 47 stops on the night, and made three second-period La Ronge goals stand up for a 3-2 win. Looks like the Ice Wolves really have something here.
8. Would The Real Estevan Bruins, Please Stand Up? – With the way the Estevan Bruins add quality players, to the quality players they already have, you would have to think they will catch fire eventually. Yet they remain painfully inconsistent, following up the disappointment in La Ronge, with a thunderous 9-4 win in Melfort’s Northern Lights Palace. But, TJ Irey and Eddie Gallagher are back in the lineup, and Will Koop, Bryce Platt, and TristynDeRoose are getting fully adjusted to life in the SJHL, so when/if it all comes together for Chris Lewgood’s crew, it should be a pretty scary picture for opponents. Hold on tight Bruins fans!
9. Shoutout Pierce Diamond – Pierce Diamond’s play in the Flin Flon net is a big part of the incredible revival of the Bombers this campaign, and the 20-year-old Edmontonian has been rewarded with a commitment to play Division III NCAA hockey with Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT next season. At its core, the SJHL is about getting players to the next level, and that is what Diamond’s hard work has earned for him! So, congrats to Pierce!
10. Congrats to Johnson! (bonus) – Also have to send a tip of the cap to the University of Regina men’s hockey bench boss Todd Johnson, as the Regina native will assist UCalgary’s Mark Howell this December on the bench of the USport All-Star squad that will take on Team Canada in Victoria, as part of Hockey Canada’s preparation for the 2019 IIHF World U20 Hockey Championships in British Columbia. The three games will take place in from Dec. 12 to 14, and the USport All-Star team will be named in November.
(Follow Jamie on Twitter at @neugsie)