Sunday, 16 December 2018

Stars pile up accolades, improve to 16-0 in regular season

Grace Shirley keeps doing special things for the Stars.
    Saskatoon Stars are keeping the good times rolling, and the accomplishments keep mounting for the defending Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League champions.
    This past weekend, the Stars improved to 16-0 in the regular season sweeping the Melville Prairie Fire in a pair of games at Merlis Belsher Place.
    On Saturday, the Stars blanked the Prairie Fire 2-0. Makena Kushniruk and Joelle Fiala netted singles for the Stars.
    Kaitlyn Cadrain, who is a 15-year-old rookie goalie, made 14 saves to pick up the shutout win in goal for Saskatoon.
    Cheyenne Jamieson turned away 38 shots to take the setback in goal for the Prairie Fire.
    On Sunday, the Prairie Fire took an early 1-0 lead in the first period before the Stars roared away with an 8-3 victory.
    Four different players had three point nights for Saskatoon.
    Captain Grace Shirley had a goal and two assists to hit another big milestone. With her offensive production on Sunday, Shirley became just the third player in the history of the SFMAAAHL to surpass 151 career points.
    The 17-year-old centre has 89 goals and 62 assists for 151 points in 98 career SFMAAAHL regular season games. Shirley needs to record seven more points to equal former teammate Mackenna Parker for top spot on the Stars career regular season scoring record and second on the SFMAAAHL career scoring list at 158 points.
Anna Leschyshyn had a goal and two assists on Sunday.
    Last Monday, Shirley received huge news on another front, when she named to the roster for Canada’s under-18 women’s team for the under-18 women’s world championship for a second straight year. Shirley will play with Canada at the upcoming under-18 women’s worlds slated for January 6 to 13, 2019 in Obihiro, Japan.
    Anna Leschyshyn and Fiala each had a goal and two assists in Sunday’s win over the Prairie Fire. 
    Leschyshyn, who is the Stars third all-time career regular season scoring leader, now sits alone in sixth place on the SFMAAAHL all-time regular season scoring list. She has 62 goals and 71 assists for 133 points in 103 career regular season games.
    Fiala, who played in her 100th career regular season game on Sunday, sits alone in 13th place on the SFMAAAHL all-time regular season scoring list. Fiala, who is the Stars fifth all-time leading career regular season scoring leader, has 43 goals and 73 assists for 116 points in regular season play.
    Kushniruk, who is a 15-year-old second-year forward, had a pair of goals and one assist for the Stars on Sunday. Kushniruk has points in her last six straight regular season game posting seven goals and five assists over that stretch of contests.
Joelle Fiala had a goal and two assists on Sunday.
    Alison Olorenshaw, Jayda Sachs and Halle Helperl netted singles to round out the scoring for the Stars.
    Samantha Thompson, Ava Metzger and Kailey Ottenbreit replied with singles for the Prairie Fire.
    Arden Kliewer turned away 16 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Stars.
    Jamieson made 31 stops to take the setback in goal for the Prairie Fire (6-7-1).
    Last Monday, nine players from the Stars were named to Saskatchewan’s under-18 women’s team for the Canada Winter Games, which run February 16 to March 2, 2019 in Red Deer, Alta. Women’s hockey runs from Feb. 24 to March 2, 2019.
    The Stars players that will represent Saskatchewan include Shirley, Fiala, Leschyshyn, Sachs, Kaitlin Jockims, Messier, Chace Sperling, Grace Tam and Kliewer. Head coach Greg Slobodzian will be an assistant coach for the Saskatchewan squad.
    The Stars, who are the top ranked female midget AAA team in Canada, also won the prestigious Mandi Schwartz Memorial Tournament that ran Dec. 6 to 9 in Wilcox, Sask., posting an undefeated 5-0 record. The Stars downed the host Notre Dame Hounds 3-1 in the tournament final on Dec. 9.
Cheyenne Jamieson keeps playing solid for the Prairie Fire.
    Saskatoon returns to action this coming Friday and Saturday, when they host the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats (6-7-1) at Merlis Belsher Place. Friday’s game is slated to start at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday’s game is set for 2:15 p.m.
    The Stars are collecting non-perishable food items for the Saskatoon Food Bank at those two contests. The Prairie Fire players and parents made a donation to the Stars food drive this past weekend.
    The Prairie Fire return to action on Wednesday when they host the Regina Rebels (12-2-2) at 7:30 p.m. at the Horizon Credit Union Centre.

Bears, Wildcats try to burn out scoreboard in series split

Taylor Lind had five points for the Wildcats in their last two games.
    The Prince Albert Northern Bears and the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats did their best to try and burnout the scoreboard at the Fairview Arena over the weekend in Swift Current.
    On Saturday, the Bears took a 4-1 lead into the third period and held on for a 5-4 Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League regular season victory.
    Brooklyn Anderson had two goals and an assist for the Bears, while McKenzie Mayo, Miranda Heidt and Jadyn Kushniruk netted singles. Captain Abby Soyko and Kailey Ledoux each had two assists.
    Kamryn Johnson, Sara Kendall, Carissa Hogan and Ashlee Wolfe replied with singles for the Wildcats. Captain Taylor Lind had a pair of assists.
    Lexi Beuker made 23 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Bears.
    Amaya Girauder turned away 21 of 25 shots starting in goal for the Wildcats. Harper Davey stopped two-of-three shots entering the contest in relief late in the second period.
    On Sunday, the two teams entered the third period locked in a 1-1 draw. The Bears jumped out to a 4-3 lead with 9:21 remaining in the third period, but the Wildcats closed the contest scoring three straight goals to pull out a 6-4 regular season victory.
Abby Soyko had four points for the Bears on the weekend.
    Soyko had a goal and an assist for the Bears, while Kushniruk, Ledoux and Jasper Desmarais had singles.
    Kendall had a hat trick for the Wildcats, while Lind had a goal and two assists. Maddy McCleary and Baylee Kirwan had singles for Swift Current. Hogan had three assists for the Wildcats.
    Scout Anderson turned away nine shots taking the setback in goal for the Bears (8-7-1). Davey made 25 stops to pick up the win in goal for the Wildcats (6-7-1).
    Lind, who is the Wildcats all-time leading scorer, sits alone in fifth spot on the SFMAAAHL’s career regular season scoring list piling up 73 goals and 62 assists for 135 points in 69 games.
    Soyko, who is the Bears all-time leading scorer, sits alone in 14th place on the SFMAAAHL’s career regular season scoring list piling up 58 goals and 56 assists for 114 points in 124 games.
    The Bears return to action this coming Friday and Saturday, when they host the Battlefords Sharks (10-7-1) at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert. Friday’s game is set for 7 p.m. and Saturday’s game is slated for 2:15 p.m.
    The Wildcats travel to Saskatoon this coming Friday and Saturday to face the Stars at Merlis Belsher Place. Friday’s game is set for 7:30 p.m. and Saturday’s game is slated for 2:15 p.m.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Raiders outgun Broncos 7-5, head into Christmas 31-2-0-1

Sean Montgomery, centre, celebrates the Raiders teddy bear goal.
    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – The Prince Albert Raiders didn’t have it easy, but they kept going full steam ahead in what has been a remarkable WHL campaign.
    On Saturday night at the Art Hauser Centre, the Raiders outgunned the majorly rebuilding Swift Current Broncos 7-5 in a WHL regular season contest before a packed standing room crowd of 2,809 spectators at the 2,580 seat facility. With the win, the Raiders remained undefeated at home at 16-0 and improved their spectacular WHL leading regular season record to 31-2-0-1.
    With star right-winger Brett Leason and star goaltender Ian Scott unavailable to the Raiders due to taking part in camp activities with Canada’s world junior team, the Raiders have found a way to put together a three game winning streak heading into their WHL Christmas break.
Jakob Brook, right, and the Raiders help with the teddy bear clean up.
    Having downed the Broncos 6-4 in Swift Current on Friday night, Raiders overage right-winger Noah Gregor said it was important for his club to find ways to win without their two star players.
    “These past two days have been probably not the way we want the game to go,” said Gregor. “Probably, it was entertaining for the fans.
    “At the end of the day, we got two big wins for us, and that is a great way to go into the break.”
    Saturday’s contest was the Raiders teddy bear toss game, and overage centre Sean Montgomery wired home the teddy bear goal at the 4:48 mark of the opening frame on a beauty set up by left-winger Parker Kelly. Montgomery’s tally gave the host side a 1-0 edge.
Overage C Sean Montgomery is having a career season for the Raiders.
    Having first joined the Raiders on a full-time basis as a 16-year-old rookie, Montgomery has put up career highs in goals (16), assists (19) and points (35). He had never scored the teddy bear toss goal, so he was happy to net that tally on Saturday.
    “There were a lot more people than I think we’ve had in other years, so it was great,” said Montgomery. “I guess the fifth time is a charm.”
    From that point, Saturday’s game turned into an old fashioned 1980s style shootout.
    The two teams exited the first period locked in a 2-2 draw. Justin Nachbaur scored his first of the night for the Raiders, while Dawson Springer and Ethan O’Rourke replied with singles for the Broncos.
Overage RW Noah Gregor scored twice for the Raiders on Saturday.
    Springer, who is a 16-year-old associate player call up from the Prince Albert midget AAA Mintos, was playing in his first career WHL regular season game, so of course, his tally for the Broncos was his first career goal in the major junior ranks.
    By the 6:08 mark of the second period, Joona Kiviniemi and Matthew Culling potted singles for the Broncos to give the visitors a 4-2 edge.
    Raiders starting goalie Donovan Buskey was pulled after the Broncos fourth goal. He stopped six of 10 shots sent his way.
    Associate player call up Brett Balas played in his first WHL game making the relief appearance. The 17-year-old, who was playing in the junior A ranks with the Calgary Canucks, stopped seven of eight shots sent his way to ultimately pick up his first career WHL victory.
Dawson Springer (#37) celebrates his first career WHL goal.
    Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid was pleased his club could pick up the win despite his side having some struggles in between the pipes. He hopes to get a little better effort from his netminders going forward in Scott’s absence.
    “It is all about the win,” said Habscheid. “Some nights, you are going to have little areas that (struggle) whether it be the power play not going or the PK or certain lines, individuals or whatever, you have to find a way.
    “You need your goaltender to stop pucks. That is just the way it is. You win as a team, you lose as a team, but in the end, your goaltender is the most important player.
    “It is difficult with Scotty (Scott) away, because he is our guy. It gives the other guys opportunities too. When they get their opportunities, you want them to perform for sure.”
Justin Nachbaur (#29) watches his second goal of the game go in.
    After making the goaltending change, the Raiders hit their high gear offensively scoring four straight goals before the second period ended to go ahead 6-4.
    Nachbaur started the surge scoring his second of the night. Ozzy Wiesblatt, who is a 16-year-old rookie centre, potted the equalizer at the 12:38 mark of the frame.
    Gregor netted two straight goals to complete the surge for the Raiders. He tipped home a pass from linemate Cole Fonstad for the first goal and scored the second marker on a wraparound.
    “You don’t want to be down going into the third, so we knew that we had to come with a strong push going into the end of that second period,” said Gregor. “We did a great job of that.
    “I think every game I am trying to be a leader and trying to be an offensive guy for this team. With (Brett) Leason being out, he is a huge part of the offence. I try to push myself to try and do even more.”
Ozzy Wiesblatt had a goal for the Raiders on Saturday.
    The Broncos cut the Raiders edge to 6-5, when left-winger Alec Zawatsky scored at the 3:31 mark of the third.
    Raiders power forward Parker Kelly rounded out the game’s scoring with an unassisted marker.
    Joel Hofer turned away 49 shots in goal for the Broncos. Having won the WHL title last season, the Broncos went through a major turnover in their roster, coaching staff and hockey operation staff during the off-season.
    Now placed in a position where they are rebuilding from near scratch, the Broncos sit last in the WHL at 6-24-1-1 heading into their WHL Christmas break.
Montgomery said it was key for the Raiders to ensure Saturday’s game didn’t slip away.
    “It is probably not the way we drew it up, but we got the win,” said Montgomery. “We’re not going to complain about that.
Broncos goalie Joel Hofer gives Raiders C Spencer Moe a shot.
    “We’ve had contributions from all four lines lately. Guys are stepping up and playing up to their potential I think. It has been a really good team effort the last few games.”
    The Raiders return to action on Thursday, Dec. 27, when they travel to Saskatoon to face the Blades (7 p.m., SaskTel Centre). The Broncos get going again on Thursday, Dec. 27, when they travel to Moose Jaw to face the Warriors (7 p.m., Mosaic Place).
    Going into the break, Habscheid said his Raiders are taking time to reflect on the fact they have built a stellar record to this point in the campaign to be rated first in the CHL Top 10 rankings.
    “You might as well talk about it,” said Habscheid. “It is 31-2-0-1. It is crazy.
The Raiders celebrate their victory on Saturday night.
    “It is something we never would have thought of halfway through the season to have that record. Like we talked in there, be proud of that, but the most fun part of any hockey season is the second half.
    “They can be proud of that, go home, enjoy it and forget about the game and enjoy the record so far. We haven’t won anything yet, and we still have a lot of things we want to accomplish. The next three, four months or five months should be real interesting.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Haden, Blades benefit from pre-Christmas luck

Gary Haden reacts to scoring the winning goal for the Blades on Friday.
    Gary Haden believes he might have a rabbit’s foot waiting for him under the Christmas tree back home in Airdrie, Alta.
    Even if he doesn’t, he plans to do everything he can to protect his current game stick.
    On Friday before 3,219 spectators at the SaskTel Centre, the 19-year-old left-winger scored the winning goal for the Saskatoon Blades in surprising fashion.
    With the Blades locked in a 2-2 tie with the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings and having been badly outplayed in the third period, Haden drove down the right wing on a last second rush. He fired a shot on goal that was turned away by Wheat Kings netminder Ethan Kruger.
    The rebound of Haden’s shot deflected off the skates of Wheat Kings left-winger Cole Reinhardt into the Brandon net with 4.1 seconds remaining in the third period. 
Wheat Kings G Ethan Kruger looks at the Blades winning goal in his net.
    That tally gave the Blades a stunning 3-2 victory in the WHL regular season clash and boosted their winning streak to four straight games.
    On Tuesday night, Haden had four goals and an assist in a 6-3 home ice victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings using the same stick that accounted for the winner Friday against the Wheat Kings.
    “I am going to keep this stick I am using,” said Haden. “I am not using that one in practice or anything.
    “I can’t afford to have this one break. This one has been good to me so far, so let’s keep it going.”
Nolan Maier makes one of his 18 third period saves in the Blades net.
    Haden credited star 17-year-old netminder Nolan Maier as the reason the Blades were able to win on Friday night. Maier made 33 stops in the contest and an incredible 18 saves in the third period to give Saskatoon a chance to steal a victory.
    The Wheat Kings stormed the Blades for the entire third frame holding an 18-5 edge in shots on goal in that stanza. Early in the third, Maier had to make a big pad stop on a rebound chance by Wheat Kings left-winger Linden McCorrister.
    Maier also received some help from his teammates too. Saskatoon overage right-winger Max Gerlach made a diving stick stop to keep Wheat Kings left-winger Ben McCartney from dumping the puck into an empty side of the Blades goal near the midway point of the frame.
Josh Paterson scored for the Blades in the first period on Friday.
    Late in the third, Maier robbed McCorrister on a breakaway and made a key blocker stop on Wheat Kings right-winger Caiden Daley.
    “We can thank him (Maier) for that one for sure,” said Haden. “He really bailed us out.
    “I’ve been on a few successful teams. On every successful team you have a good goalie. He is always there to bail you out no matter what, no matter the situation.
    “Tonight, we really didn’t play Blades hockey in the third period, but he made some big saves.”
    The Wheat Kings drew first blood at the 5:17 mark of the first period, when 16-year-old rookie centre Ridly Greig sniped home his seventh of the season to give the visitors a 1-0 edge.
    The Blades pulled even at 1-1 a little over three minutes later, when centre Brandon Machado deflected home a point shot from offensive defenceman Dawson Davidson.
Brandon Machado, left, battles along the boards for the Blades.
    Saskatoon jumped ahead 2-1 before the opening frame ended, when Blades right-winger Josh Paterson cut across the front of the Brandon goal and his shot deflected off the stick of a Wheat Kings defenceman into the Brandon net.
    The Wheat Kings tied things up at 2-2 on a short-handed two-on-one break with 4:09 remaining in the second period. McCartney slipped a pass to McCorrister to send him in alone on the Blades goal. McCorrister tucked home his 11th of the season to put the visitors on even terms with the home side.
    The first 40 minutes were evenly played and the shots on goal were tied 17-17. That set the stage for the crazy finish in the third.
    Kruger ultimately made 19 saves to take the setback in goal for the Wheat Kings (14-10-3-3).
These two teams will go at it again on Saturday in Brandon at Westoba Place before both departing on their respective Christmas breaks.
Linden McCorrister had a goal for the Wheat Kings on Friday.
    Saskatoon improves to 21-10-3 with the win, but Blades head coach Mitch Love admits he didn’t expect to see his team win in the fashion they did on Friday night.
    “We got real lucky tonight in my opinion,” said Love. “The other team probably deserved a better fate, and our guys understand that.
    “That was the message delivered after the game. We strayed away from what has made us successful to this point in the year. They took total advantage over there.
    “We’ve got to be better tomorrow.”
    While he had an outstanding performance, Maier said he gained some extra energy in the third due to Gerlach’s diving save. Maier likes the fact his team was able to pull out a gutty win in a game they could have very well lost.
The Blades and mascot Poke Check celebrate their win on Friday.
    “It was kind of hectic,” said Maier. “I think everyone saw that one sliding save by Max Gerlach.
    “That really helped me out. That kind of just showed the character in our room. It just kind of helped me out along that whole stretch.
    “It is kind of a good battle back for our team, but we know we have to be better than that. We’re going to do that tomorrow.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Blades return to nemesis role against rival Raiders

Raiders captain Brayden Pachal (#8) battles Blades centre Kirby Dach.
    The rivalry just heated up to another level.
    If there were any questions about encounters between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades having a renewed intensity, the two teams cleared up those doubts on Sunday at the SaskTel Centre. In the third clash of the WHL regular season between the two clubs, the Raiders entered the contest as clear favourites having gone 28-1-0-1 over their first 30 games and being voted the top rated club in the CHL’s Top 10 rankings.
    The Raiders had dumped the Blades in their first two encounters of the campaign including a 4-1 result in Prince Albert on Sept. 30 and 6-2 final in Saskatoon on Oct. 14.
Blades RW Riley McKay (#39) battles Raiders LW Parker Kelly (#27).
    On Sunday before 6,334 spectators that included a healthy contingent of Raiders supporters, the Blades gutted out a 1-0 victory behind a 32-save shutout performance from star 17-year-old netminder Nolan Maier.
    With the win, the Blades improved to 19-10-3 to sit fourth overall in the WHL with 41 points in the standings. The Red Deer Rebels sit a point back of the Blades holding two games in hand with a 19-9-2 record.
    The Raiders fell to 28-2-0-1 with the setback to Saskatoon but still remain first overall in the WHL. Prince Albert was 21-0-0-1 in its previous 22 contests before falling to the Blades.
    Last season, the Blades won six of their eight head-to-head encounters with the Raiders, where one of the two losses came in extra time.
Blades RW Max Gerlach battles a Raiders player.
    When asked if the Blades has re-established themselves as the nemesis of the Raiders, Maier gave a telling answer.
    “I think so,” said Maier. “With their confidence and their kind of record going into this year, they don’t really feel like we are competition to them.
    “I think we proved them wrong tonight.”
    Maier admitted the Blades did get a little tired of hearing how good the Raiders are and have been this season. He said his side had a pretty good record too so far this season and believes Sunday’s victory by the Blades will turn heads around the league.
    “This is huge,” said Maier. “We were talking about it before in the room saying that this was a statement game to be heard around the whole league.
    “I think we really put it to work. I think it shows.
    “I think we just kind of played with that extra grit like we need to just being a rival. I think it just paid off for us.”
    The two squads played through an even first period, which saw the Blades kill off four straight Raiders power plays.
    At the 5:14 mark of the second period, the Blades netted the game’s only goal. Tristen Robins, who is a 17-year-old rookie centre, got the puck from 19-year-old defenceman Nolan Kneen, broke down the left wing and roofed a shot to the top right corner of the Prince Albert goal past Raiders netminder Ian Scott.
Raiders captain Brayden Pachal (#8) hits Blades LW Eric Florchuk.
    Robins goal resulted in fans throwing a flood of teddy bears in the ice, because Sunday’s contest was the Blades teddy bear toss night.
    While the Blades were helping clear the ice surface, Maier moved off to have a moment by himself.
    “I think I just tried to keep focused,” said Maier. “I don’t know if you guys were watching.
    “I kind of stayed on the bench the whole time drinking my water and just not getting caught up in the moment. I think it kind of worked out in the end.”
    Robins played a gritty game and made a couple of key plays in the defensive zone including calmly skating the puck out of harm’s way during a third period net scramble around Maier.
Blades 17-year-old centre Kirby Dach arguably had one of his best games despite not recording a point. 
The Blades celebrate the lone goal in Sunday’s clash with the Raiders.
    He initiated contact when the play got physical and didn’t allow himself to be pushed around.
Dach confronted Raiders captain Brayden Pachal in the third period after Pachal wiped out Dach’s linemate Eric Florchuk. Pachal was given a boarding penalty on the play.
    The Blades received a huge shutdown game from their top defensive pairing of Brandon Schuldhaus and Kneen. Schuldhaus, who is an overager, was acquired in a trade early in the campaign with the Moose Jaw Warriors, while Kneen was a more recent acquisition in trade with the Kamloops Blazers.
    Saskatoon ended the scoring run of Raiders star right-winger Brett Leason, who had points in all of the Raiders first 30 games. Leason leads the WHL in scoring with 28 goals and 36 assists for 64 points.
Tristen Robins scored the Blades goal on Sunday.
    With 5:51 remaining in the third, the shots on goal for the contest were even at 27-27.
Maier proceeded to slam the door to prevent a Raiders comeback.
    After the Raiders pulled Scott for an extra attacker, Maier made a huge glove save on Raiders overage centre Noah Gregor and somehow saw and stoned Leason on a screen shot from the point.
    Prince Albert had one last offensive zone faceoff with 8.1 seconds to play in the frame, and Maier stopped one final Raider shot off a faceoff play to secure a Blades victory.
    Maier said he was in a good spot mentally in the third period noting he has had the odd rocky patch so far this season.
    “I think I felt really good,” said Maier. “I was kind of back to my old self there a little bit.
    “I think our team really played well. If we keep the number one team in the CHL under 20 shots in the (first) 40 minutes, I think is a kind of congratulations to us. I got a shutout, so it kind of glorifies everything.
    “I thought our forwards played real well, and our D-men, they were awesome in not letting them get too much. I can’t thank them enough for that.” 
Blades D Brandon Schuldhaus helps pick stuffed toys off the ice.
    Scott turned away 26 shots taking the setback in goal for the Raiders.
    The Blades return to action on Tuesday when they host the Edmonton Oil Kings at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre.
    The Raiders return to Prince Albert, and they will host the Oil Kings on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre. Prince Albert will be without Leason and Scott for that contest and the foreseeable future as they depart to Victoria, B.C., for the selection camp for Canada’s world junior team that starts Tuesday and runs through to Friday.
    Going forward, Maier said the Blades have an extra jump in their step now that they have beaten the Raiders.
The Blades celebrate their victory on Sunday night.
    “It feels great,” said Maier. “Knowing that we can play with the top team in the CHL is a real confidence booster for us.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Fonstad heats up for Raiders, scores twice in Saturday’s win

Cole Fonstad (#24) celebrates his second goal for the Raiders on Saturday.
    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – Cole Fonstad is all about team success, but he still wants to play a bigger part in making the party great.
    The 18-year-old left-winger, who was selected in the fifth round and 128th overall in last June’s NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, has contributed to a special start this season season for the Prince Albert Raiders. With that said the Estevan, Sask., product hasn’t been the biggest driving offensive force that has helped the Raiders get voted into the top spot on the CHL’s Top 10 rankings.
    It appears Fonstad is starting to find his time to play a bigger part in contributing to the Raiders success.
    On Saturday night before a packed standing room crowd of 3,107 at the 2,580 seat Art Hauser Centre, Fonstad scored two key goals to power the Raiders past the Brandon Wheat Kings 5-2 in a WHL regular season tilt.
Cole Fonstad has points in his last six games for the Raiders.
    The win allowed the Raiders to improve their WHL leading record to a remarkable 28-1-0-1.
    Fonstad now has points in his last six straight games totalling four goals and four assists over that span of time.
    “I think that is my role is to contribute offensively,” said Fonstad, who has 10 goals and 13 assists appearing in all of the Raiders 30 games this season. “Obviously at the start of the year, it wasn’t going as well as I thought.
    “It is nice to kind of get back and start making plays again and feeling more confident with the puck and build some chemistry with my linemates.”
    In recent games, Fonstad has been played on the line with overage standout Noah Gregor at centre and talented 16-year-old rookie Ozzy Wiesblatt at right wing. Fonstad said he has found a groove playing with Gregor and Wiesblatt.
    “Once you get chemistry, you kind of know where guys are,” said Fonstad, who was selected by the Raiders in the first round and fifth overall in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. “Then, you can just get rolling.
    “It is a lot easier on the ice to kind of know where guys are.”
Cole Fonstad was selected in the NHL Entry draft by Montreal.
    When he wasn’t putting up points, Fonstad was pumped to see his teammates have success. He said he will always support and congratulate his teammates, when they do well.
    He was really excited to see how well 19-year-old right-winger Brett Leason has done in his third full season in the league. Leason had a pair of assists on Saturday, and he has netted at least one point in all 30 games the Raiders have played to this point in the campaign.
    The Calgary, Alta., product has obliterated his career highs in leading the WHL in scoring with 28 goals and 36 assists for 64 points. Leason and Raiders star goaltender Ian Scott have been invited to the main selection camp for Canada’s world junior team, which starts Tuesday and runs through to Friday in Victoria, B.C.
Cole Fonstad controls the puck in the offensive zone.
    “We all knew Leas (Brett Leason) was a great player last year,” said Fonstad. “To see him come and how much he is producing this year, it is special to see.
    “It is pretty amazing for a guy to go unnoticed the last couple of years and just come into this year and take off like that. Obviously, we are really happy for him to go to the world junior camp. We think he is going to be great there.”
    As for Saturday’s game, the Wheat Kings withstood the Raiders initial push and opened the game’s scoring at the 14:18 mark of the first period. While working on the power play, Wheat Kings left-winger Linden McCorrister gathered a loose puck in front of the Raiders net and popped home his 10th tally of the season to give Brandon a 1-0 lead.
    At the start of the second, Brandon tried to clamp down on the host side with some tight checking.
Cole Fonstad, right, celebrates his first goal in Saturday’s game.
    With 5:29 to play in the second, the Raiders offence exploded scoring three times in a span of 89 seconds to go ahead 3-1.
    Fonstad started the surge sniping home a shot from the slot.
    Just 40 seconds later, fan favourite and power forward Kody McDonald knocked home a rebound from a shot taken by offensive defenceman Max Martin to put the Raiders ahead 2-1.
    Just 49 seconds after that tally, overage centre Sean Montgomery scored on the power play to complete the Prince Albert surge. Leason picked up an assist on Montgomery’s goal to ensure his point scoring streak to start the season stayed alive.
    Fonstad was pumped he was able spark his club scoring his team’s first goal.
Brett Leason has points in all of the Raiders 30 games this season.
    “It felt good,” said Fonstad. “We were taking some penalties there and kind of got away from our game.
    “It was good to kind of get the momentum back. I think it got some energy back. I think, when we are on our game or get some little momentum like that, we can score a lot of goals really fast.”
    The Wheat Kings gained some traction before the second frame ended, when star right-winger Luka Burzan scored 50 seconds after Montgomery’s marker to cut Prince Albert’s edge to 3-2.
    At the 1:56 mark of the third, Fonstad scored his second of the night firing home the rebound of a shot taken by Gregor to give the Raiders a 4-2 advantage.
    Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid was pleased to see Fonstad hit another gear and expects the third-year winger will have more big moments as the campaign moves on. 
Noah Gregor had three points for the Raiders on Saturday.
    Habscheid said it will make the Raiders that much more able to keep winning, if Fonstad keeps hitting a higher gear.
    “He is a big part of our team,” said Habscheid. “He is a big part of last year.
    “If he can step up and keep playing, that will help our depth and just make us more hard to defend against. Goal scorers score goals, and if they don’t, they get frustrated and they lose a little bit of confidence. He got a couple tonight, and that should help his confidence.”
    Brandon appeared to trim the Raiders edge to one goal later on in the third, but McCorrister had a goal disallowed because he grabbed the puck and chucked it into the Prince Albert goal on a net scramble.
    Gregor scored the Raiders final goal with 5:30 remaining in the third period to go along with two assists and a plus-four rating in the plus-minus department. The tally by the Beaumont, Alta., product was his 100th career WHL regular season goal.
    Scott turned away 39 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Raiders. Jiri Patera turned away 42 shots to take the setback in net for the Wheat Kings, who fell to 14-9-3-3.
Riley the Raider has fun with a young fan.
    Fonstad wants to keep his hot streak going, especially considering the Raiders could potentially be without Leason and Scott for some time if they make Canada’s world junior team.
    Both are slated to leave the Raiders for the Hockey Canada selection camp on Monday.
    “Obviously, those guys are huge parts of our team,” said Fonstad. “Scotty (Scott), he can win you a game.
    “He is the best goalie in the league by far. We feel that, and we’re lucky to have him. People are going to have to step up and fill their roles.
    “We’re just going to have to buckle down and get these wins.”
The Raiders salute the fans at the Art Hauser Centre.
    The Raiders return to action on Sunday, when they travel to Saskatoon to face the Blades (4 p.m., SaskTel Centre).

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Warriors waste little time in reloading, rally for 3-2 win

Tristin Langan had three points in a Warriors comeback win.
    The Moose Jaw Warriors reload appears to have been a quick one.
    Last season, the Warriors finished first overall in the WHL’s regular season standings with a 52-15-2-3 record and bowed out of playoffs in a tough second round series that went seven games to the eventual WHL champion Swift Current Broncos. The Broncos finished second overall in the WHL with a 48-17-5-2 record in the 2017-18 campaign.
    Experiencing significant turnover, the Warriors currently have just seven players on their roster that were with the squad last season. If anyone thought the current campaign was going to be a write off for Moose Jaw, the Warriors appear to have their own ideas about how the season is supposed to go.
    On Friday night at the SaskTel Centre, the Warriors fell behind 2-0 to the host Saskatoon Blades in the first period of a WHL regular season clash only to rally back for a 3-2 victory before 3,236 spectators.
Brodan Salmond stopped 33 shots in goal for the Warriors on Friday night.
    The win allowed the Warriors to improve to 16-6-4-1 and tie the Blades, who fell to 17-10-3, for second in the WHL’s East Division with 37 points in the standings. Warriors overage centre Tristin Langan was the main offensive catalyst in the comeback scoring the equalizer and drawing assists on Moose Jaw’s other two tallies.
    With that outburst, Langan, who is in his fourth WHL campaign, has career highs in goals (20), assists (29) and points (49).
    “I think it is just all of my teammates,” said Langan. “We started the season and no one expected us to do anything.
Brayden Tracey had the winning goal for the Warriors.
    “We’re doing really good.”
    The Warriors started out posting a 7-5-3-1 record over their first 16 games. They are 9-1-1 in 11 contests following that point.
    Thanks to their surge of wins, the Warriors earned an honourable mention in the CHL Top 10 rankings that were released on Wednesday.
    Friday’s victory stopped a mini-skid as Moose Jaw had a regulation and an extra time loss in its two previous contests.
    Still, it appeared Friday’s game was going to be a rocky one for the Warriors.
    After the opening faceoff, the first stoppage occurred at the 4:31 mark of the first period, when Blades left-winger Eric Florchuk tipped a pass from linemate Kirby Dach past Moose Jaw netminder Brodan Salmond to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
    The Blades increased their lead to 2-0 at the 9:29 mark of the opening frame, when left-winger Gary Haden dove and made a pass across the face the Moose Jaw goal to linemate Josh Paterson. 
    Paterson tapped the puck into the open side of the cage to give Saskatoon its two-goal edge.
Kirby Dach set up the Blades first goal on Friday.
    The Warriors halted the Blades momentum with 7:32 remaining in the first on a goal from right-winger Luke Ormsby.
    “I think we came off to a slow start here,” said Langan.  “We came in and gathered ourselves (in the first intermission).
    “We came out and played a solid next 40, so it was nice to get the win out here tonight.”
    Moose Jaw tied things up at 2-2 working on the power play with 4:19 remaining in the second period, when Langan tipped home a point shot from defenceman Jett Woo.
    The Warriors netted the winning goal working on another power play at the 9:37 mark of the third period. Right-winger Brayden Tracey wired home a shot from the front of the Saskatoon goal converting a tick-tack-toe passing play from captain Josh Brook and Langan.
    Moose Jaw connected on two-of-three power-play chances and killed off all five of the Blades power-play opportunities. The Warriors even killed a Blades two-man advantage that lasted 1:48 that started near the end of the second period and ended early in the third.
Captain Josh Brook charges up the ice for the Warriors.
    Entering Friday’s game, the Warriors had a dismal 69.6 per cent success rate on the penalty kill. Langan said his Warriors have been focusing on the penalty kill at practice and is pleased to see results are starting to show from that work.
    “I think we were just bearing down on pucks, being hard around pucks and getting pucks down when we needed it,” said Langan. “It was good to see that we killed them off here.”
    Still, the Blades could have come away with a victory had it not been for Salmond making 33 saves in the Warriors net. Nolan Maier, who is the Blades star goalie, turned away 22 shots in Saskatoon’s cage.
The Blades push for the equalizer in the final seconds of Friday’s game.
    With just under 15 seconds to play in the third, Haden got in alone on the Moose Jaw goal for a prime scoring chance, but Salmond turned back the threat with a kick save.
    The Blades pressured for the equalizer in the dying seconds of the third during frantic action around the Moose Jaw goal. When the clock expired, the coaches and players from Saskatoon were arguing there should have been an offensive zone faceoff as the puck disappeared under the bodies of a couple of Warriors players.
    The two clubs will go at it again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw. Langan said his side has to get a good rest in, when the team bus arrives home in Moose Jaw, and watch some film to prepare for Saturday’s encounter.
The Warriors celebrate their win on Friday night.
    The Swan River, Man., product said his Warriors need to embrace the chance to continue to play well in a season where the Moose Jaw side wasn’t pegged to be one of the league’s elite clubs.
    “We’re just playing as a team,” said Langan. “We’re just taking it one game at a time here, so it is nice.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Monday, 3 December 2018

The time for Nyhus to shine with Huskies has arrived

The Huskies will be Mason Nyhus’s team to lead.
    The University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team graduated a star quarterback, but they have a signal caller in waiting that might become a bigger star.
    Veteran Kyle Siemens went out on a high quarterbacking the Huskies in his fifth and final year of eligibility. He guided them to their first playoff victory since 2009, first Canada West Conference championship since 2006 and first appearance in a U Sports national semifinal bowl since 2006.
    Siemens 604 total career pass completions in the regular season rank first on the Huskies all-time list and his 7,932 career yards passing in the regular season rates second overall in team history. He completed 604-of-998 passes for 7,932 yards, 55 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
    For any successor, those are huge shoes to fill.
    The Huskies have a player that might end up being more than capable of filling those shoes.
    Back in 2016, Mason Nyhus came to the Huskies as highly-touted prospect from the Riffle High School Royals football team in Regina. To put it bluntly, Nyhus was a blue chipper.
    Nyhus, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 190 pounds, quarterbacked Saskatchewan’s provincial team to a bronze medal win at the 2015 Football Canada Cup in Saint Jean, Que. At the International Bowl series that ran Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, 2016 in Arlington, Texas, Nyhus was calling signals for Canada’s under-18 team.
Mason Nyhus throws a pass in a controlled scrimmage in 2016.
    In July of 2016, Nyhus was a member of Canada’s Junior National Team that won the International Federation of American Football under-19 World Championship in Harbin, China.
    Since Nyhus stepped foot on the U of S campus, there has been anticipation among football followers in Saskatchewan to see what he could do as the starting quarterback of the Huskies. Nyhus put on a display in the Huskies controlled scrimmage against the University of Alberta Golden Bears in 2016 firing lasers all over the field, which further added anticipation to him becoming a starter one day.
    Nyhus has enough talent that Huskies coaches could have chosen to start him as a rookie in 2016, but most quarterbacks that start in U Sports right out of high school endure their share of rough waters and bumps.
    The Huskies coaching staff wisely elected give Nyhus the chance to get acclimatized to the U Sports game. He was redshirted his rookie year in 2016, which was the last campaign the Huskies were guided by legendary head coach Brian Towriss.
    For the past two seasons under the team’s new head coach in Scott Flory, Nyhus backed up Siemens.
    In 2017, Nyhus came off the bench completing 15 of 22 passes for 243 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. 
Mason Nyhus took part in Roughriders training camp.
    Last May and June, the 20-year-old attended Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp as part of the CFL’s Canadian quarterback internship program.
    This past season for the Huskies, Nyhus completed 28-of-47 passes for 448 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
    He will be going into his third season of U Sports eligibility as a 21-year-old next season, and it will be his time to shine.
    During his spot duty with the Huskies, Nyhus has shown great poise and good command of the Huskies offence. He throws the ball downfield with a purpose, and he knows where he wants to attack a defence.
    There is a very good chance the Huskies won’t miss a beat on offence when Nyhus takes over as the starting quarterback. He has been groomed for this moment.
    Of course, there is always a chance someone else could rise up to become the Huskies new starting quarterback, but in all reality, that is Nyhus’s job to lose.
    Nyhus will have a whole host of receivers to get the ball out to who will be that much more seasoned and experienced in Jesse Kuntz, Carter Dahl and Joseph Trumpy. The Huskies expect to get star pass catcher Sam Baker back from injury and running back Colton Klassen became a star receiver cementing himself as the Huskies most dynamic offensive weapon.
    The Huskies will return powerhouse running back Adam Machart and will have a strong offensive line anchored by Mattland Riley, Nicholas Summach, Connor Berglof and Tanner Secord.
Mason Nyhus calls a play from his wristband.
    The Huskies next challenge will be to try and make long playoff runs like the one they were just on a habit. Having Nyhus under centre makes that challenge something that can be met.
    With that said, Flory has hit the recruiting trail hard since the Huskies fell in the Mitchell Bowl in London, Ont., 47-24 to the University of Western Ontario Mustangs on Nov. 17.
    Since returning to Saskatoon, Flory has received commitments from defensive lineman Nicholas Dheilly from Regina. Dheilly played for the University of Regina Rams in 2016 and 2017.
    He was the Canada West rookie of the year in 2016 and a Canada West all-star in 2017. He played in the Canadian Junior Football League this past season with the Okanagan Sun in Kelowna, B.C.
Dheilly originally committed to the Huskies in 2016, but ended up with the Rams as the Huskies were going through changes on their coaching staff.
    The Huskies signed receiver D’Sean Mimbs from Winston Knoll Collegiate in Regina, linebacker Ramsey Derbas and running back Tanner Szakacs from Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon.
    Also committing to the Huskies is quarterback Keegan Kaytor from Regina’s Sheldon-Williams Collegiate and defensive back Aiden Sommacal from Saskatoon’s St. Joseph High School.
    Last Saturday, the Huskies football team gave a final celebration to the 2018 campaign with their team awards banquet at the Cathedral of the Holy Family. Siemens was named the most valuable player on offence, fourth-year defensive lineman Evan Machibroda was named the most valuable player on defence and fifth-year running back Tyler Chow took overall most valuable player honours.
Mason Nyhus follows through on a pass.
    Fifth-year defensive end Tristian Koronkiewicz was named the lineman of the year, fifth-year kicker Sean Stenger was the special teams player of the year, second-year linebacker Thomas Whiting was named the most improved player, Klassen claimed the coaches award and defensive back Charlie Ringland was the freshman of the year.
    The graduating veterans like Siemens, Chow, Koronkiewicz and Stenger showed the Huskies can win conference titles and compete on the national stage again.
    Now players like Nyhus, the rest of the returnees and new recruits are passed the torch to take the Huskies into the future. The belief is there that future will be a bright one.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.