With a year of experience under their collective belts, the Melfort Mustangs knew things would be better this year. After all, it couldn’t get any worse.
Under rookie head coach and general manager Gavin Holcomb the Mustangs were last in the North Division a year ago with a 13-39-2-4 record. The club struggled in almost every aspect of the game, but Holcomb knew things would be different this season and so far it looks like his plan is unfolding nicely.
“We had a lot of guys that were kind of thrown to the wolves last year,” says Holcomb. “The guys came back really happy and in good shape.”
“We have added some pieces and some depth and I feel that we have improved from last year,” added Holcomb. “We were at .500 after 10 games and there were a few games we dropped that we shouldn’t have.”
One of the biggest factors in the Mustangs starting this year at 5-7-0 is goaltending. Jesse Wilkins has a 3-5-0 record with a 3.66 goals-against average while Patrick Johnson is 2-2-0 with a 3.04 GAA.
“We’re trying to build from the back out,” said Holcomb. “We are leaning on our goaltending and our defence. We are still a pretty young team.”
The defensive corp. is the area that has benefitted the most from the year of experience. Matt Saunderson, Cody Brown, Brandon Parrone, Carter Berg and Zachary Walker all played significant games last year and they will be working with newcomers Jay Aasen, Adam Fauchoux and Mark Foster to try and prevent goals from being scored, which Melfort was second worst at last year with opponents notching 236 tallies.
Up front, Brandon Formosa from Mission, B.C., was put on a line with Brandon Sloan and Jarrett Zettner and that unit has clicked for nearly 40 per cent of the Mustang offense early in the season. Sloan, who led the team in scoring last year, has six goals and six assists in the 12 games while Zettner has 3-9-12 totals and Formosa is at 3-8-11.
Big things are also expected from Goderic Tham and Anthony Pickering while Logan Sceviour was acquired from the Flin Flon Bombers at the beginning of October to add more depth on the forward lines.
A number of rookies are also in the mix including Jamie Miller, who Holcombe says just showed up at camp in the fall and earned a spot on the team. Regan Wilton, who played Midget AAA with the Prince Albert Mintos last year, is also being looked upon to add some offense to the club.
“We’re still on the young side so we have to build some consistency,” notes Holcomb. “We’re really happy with our ‘94s (players born in 1994). They have shown a high level of play.”
The Mustangs are hoping to do a lot of celebrating this year and with it being their 25th year in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, what a perfect time to get things turned around.
As part of those silver jubilee celebrations, the Mustangs are raffling a Ford Mustang car as a major fundraiser for the season. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Mustang office at 306-752-2799