Voice of the N.D. Hounds
With the Showcase in the rear-view mirror, and all the pleasantries gone, it’s down to brass tax for the clubs of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Everyone is over 41 games played in the 58-game season, so let the race for playoff spots begin!
1. Fear The Flon – That’s four games in a row that the Bombers have put up five goals, and the one game before that it was in Nipawin, where they scored four on the always-stingy Hawks. The beautiful thing for Cade Kowalski, their flashy add up front at the trade deadline, is that he does not need to be the guy (like he was in Weyburn), so I can promise you that Flin Flon head coach Mike Reagan is just thrilled with his eight points in five games in the darker red jerseys of the Bombers. Between Nate Hooper, Brandson Hein, Kowalski, and the wildly underappreciated DaylanMarchi (who I would take two of on any Junior A team in Canada), Reagan can throw out four of the Top 10 scorers in the SJHL, providing offence at will for the newly added goaltender Gabriel Waked to feel right at home, knowing the Bombers can always find more goals. Nipawin is on top of the league standings, but with seven wins in a row, I am comfortable saying the SJHL’s only Manitoba club is the best in the league right now.
2. Kudos To Felgueiras – Big kudos to solid Humboldt D-man Chase Felgueiras for being the only representative of the league on the latest NHL Central Scouting Draft Watch List, where he is slotted in the sixth round at present. The Calgary native is also the only SJHLer set to represent the West in the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Top Prospects game slated for Tuesday night in Okotoks. I’ve heard scouts, scouts, and fans have pretty wide opinions on the smoothly operating 6-foot-3 right-shot defender, from ‘a poor prospect’ to an ‘NHL prospect for sure’, but either way I like how he never panics with the puck, and often seems to have it on his tape when he’s on the ice for the Broncos. He’s also pretty solid in his own zone, so while he isn’t high on flash, he’s a smooth skating, big-bodied right-shot defender…so what’s not to like there, right?
3. Well Done Gull Lake! – What a job by the great people of Gull Lake at the neutral-site game there between Notre Dame and Battlefords last Saturday! The place was just packed for the whole Hockey Day in Saskatchewan there, which included a midget game between Swift Current and Tisdale, fireworks, and a pie-eating contest! The fans were also treated to a barn-burner, with ND rallying in the third to salvage a point against a red-hot North Stars club. Long-time Regina Pat Braydon Buziak had a beautiful winner in OT, blowing past an ND defenceman before beating Riley Kohonick backhand.
4. Kindersley-Battlefords Televised – Shout out to MAXTV and SaskTel for televising the Showcase, and then committing to televising some regular season and playoff games for the province! Great to also start out by showcasing that oldest and most intense of rivalries in the northwest of Saskatchewan! Check it out on MaxTV Tuesday night!
5. The Koho Show – It’s a second goaltender of the week award for White City’s Riley Kohonick of the Notre Dame Hounds, who deserves a ton of credit for keeping ND in it at the Gull Lake neutral site game, allowing the young, beat-up team to crawl back for a point against a veteran Battlefords club. He was brilliant the night before in a 4-2 win over Yorkton as well, so well deserved for the 2000-born goaltender. Estevan’s Grant Boldt gets a lot of acclaim as a 2000-born net minder in the SJHL, but call me bias if you want, but I would say Koho is just a little bit better. What a star he is after his performance at the showcase!
6. Estevan Roughs It Up – The PIMs and suspensions keep right on going for the Estevan Bruins, with Austin King-Cunningham, Bryce Platt, and TristynDeRoose all getting suspensions for a brutal Jan. 18 encounter with the Red Wings in Weyburn. News is that a Weyburn player had to go to the hospital during the contest, so hopefully he is alright. The suspension bill included four games for King, and two each for Platt and DeRoose. I’ll say it again: Estevan has one heck of a team if they could all decide to stick to playing hockey for a game.
7. Heroes of Hockey in Humboldt – Cool to see that a cast of NHL retirees will play a game to keep raising funds for the Broncos on March 9 at the Elgar Petersen Arena. Go to humboldtbroncos.com for ticket details! The likes of Bryan Trottier, Chris Joseph, Reggie Leach, and Cliff Ronning will take on a Humboldt Broncos alumni squad, so that’ll be a great time!
8. Munz Media – Go do yourself a favour: follow Munz Media on twitter and check out some of their videos and content from the Showcase last week. Especially the recap video, which you can also find on YouTube, is absolutely stunning. Huge kudos to Tanner Goetz and his crew for creating awesome content for the SJHL!
9. Yorkton or Estevan? – Crazy battles for the top spot going on in the Global Ag Risk Solutions and Viterra Divisions so far, and both will be nuts going down the stretch here in the SJHL! In the Viterra, who can say between Yorkton or Estevan right now? It’s such a week-to-week thing, with one team or the other grabbing a good weekend each time, and as a result, they are deadlocked at 45 points each right now. With the way the other divisions have gone, winning the Viterra or finishing second looks like the difference between eighth place and third place…so take that for what you will.
10. Shout Out to Jett!(bonus) – Have to take a personal moment and shout out to one of my favourite kids of all time, playing back home for me in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, North York Rangers goaltender Jett Alexander, who just set a league record in a season with his ninth shutout (yes, 9th!). At 6’5, 210 pounds, how he isn’t committed is absolutely nuts! Also an unbelieve young man!
(Follow Jamie on Twitter at @neugsie)