Arenas across the SJHL will be busy Friday night, with five games on tap as the season reaches the first weekend of 2019. There will be the renewal of hostilities between two storied Sherwood Division rivals, while a crucial game will be played between two teams contending for the final playoff spot.
The Weyburn Red Wings are coming off a 6-1 win over the Estevan Bruins Tuesday as they entertain the Melville Millionaires Friday night. The game, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at Crescent Point Place, sees the two teams battling for 10th place overall in the SJHL.
The Millionaires are 6-4 in their last 10 games and have won three straight, including a pair of wins over the Yorkton Terriers. Melville currently holds 10th place in the league, five points up on the Red Wings.
For Weyburn, they will be looking to close the gap with the Millionaires when they take the ice. It will also be the first chance for Wings fans to see newly acquired goaltender Ben Laidlaw in the Winged Wheel. Laidlaw was picked up in a trade with the Yorkton Terriers earlier this week, which saw Riley Lamb head to Yorkton.
Lamb is expected to get his first taste of action as a Terrier Friday night. Yorkton will be entertaining the Flin Flon Bombers at the Farrell Agencies Arena. The Terriers will also see Jared Legien return to their lineup. The leading scorer for the club, he was called up to the Vancouver Giants of the WHL for a trio of games to start off the year.
The Bombers are coming off a 9-1 drubbing of the La Ronge Ice Wolves Tuesday. The highest scoring team in the league this season, the Bombers have had some struggles as of late, going 5-5. They are hoping a game against the team with the second highest goals against in the SJHL will be the key to continuing the strong start to 2019.
The Ice Wolves find themselves heading to Kindersley for a pair of games this weekend. The Ice Wolves have struggled this season, but have won two of their last 10 games. They beat the Bombers in La Ronge to end 2018, before dropping the return match on January 1st.
Meanwhile, the Klippers are atop the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division and come into the game going 8-1-0-1 in their last ten. Kindersley also has the second lowest goals against in the league, thanks to the strong play of goaltender Justen Close, and his understudy Zach Johnson.
The fifth game of the night will see the Melfort Mustangs taking on the Nipawin Hawks at the Cage in Nipawin. The rivalry between the two teams is one of the fiercest in Junior A hockey and will be a match-up of two of the top teams in the SJHL.
The Hawks enter the game as the defending Canalta Cup champions and are two points up on the Mustangs for first in the SJHL, and the Sherwood Division. Nipawin has been stingy, giving up just 71 goals this season, and they are 7-2-1 in their last ten games.
Melfort is led by 20-year-old phenom Justin Ball, who has been held off the scoresheet just once this season. His streak, which is now at 33 games, is the longest in the league by a country mile, and the longest in the country as well. He leads the league in points. The Mustangs aren’t a one trick pony show, though, as Ball is complemented by talented teammates like Carson Albrecht and Kayle Tosh.