Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Thank You 20-year-olds!

The Melfort Mustangs season has come to an end after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Yorkton Terriers in game seven of the SJHL Quarter-Finals on Tuesday, March 31.

The Mustangs had forced game seven after being down 3-1 in the series.

It was an excellent season for the Mustangs who finished first in the Sherwood Division, winning that title for the first time since 2015/2016. Their 34-15-4-5 record was good for third place finish in the SJHL as well. Three Mustangs also placed in the Top 20 in scoring in the SJHL; Nolan Doell (60 points), Ben Tkachuk (56), and Curtis Hammond (50), all finished on the first page of leading scorers.

The Mustangs will be bringing back a solid core of players next year, but as with every year in Junior A hockey, players graduate, and eight players have played their last games as Mustangs.

#7 – Lucas Ochitwa (Wadena, SK)

107 games after being the 11th overall pick in the 2016 SJHL Draft, Lucas Ochitwa’s Mustang career has come to a close.

As a rookie in 2019/2020, Ochitwa played 50 games, scoring three times and adding 11 assists for 14 points, third among defencemen on the team that year. He would also rack up 135 penalty minutes, second on the team. Ochitwa would also play in one playoff game with the Mustangs before the COVID-19 pandemic shortened that run.

As a second year player in 2020/2021, Ochitwa played in just four games as the SJHL season was halted before teams had played 10 games.

This past season, Ochitwa took on a role as Assistant Captain, and passed the assignment with flying colours being a leader on the blue line, and throughout the room. Ochitwa led all Mustang defencemen in scoring this year as he scored two goals and added 19 assists. On top of the points, Ochitwa was fearless in the corners and laid heavy body checks when presented with the opportunity. Ochitwa was relied upon heavily in all situations this season and will surely have success at the next level playing for Alvernia University in the NCAA III.

#20 – Seth McCulloch (Coutts, AB)

97 games into his SJHL career, Seth McCulloch has played his last came in blue and green.

McCulloch joined the Mustangs as a rookie in 2019/2020 and immediately impressed with his hard work, fearlessness, and determination. As a rookie, McCulloch had four goals, and six assists for 10 points. He would also tally 117 penalty minutes in 49 games. The left-winger played three playoff games that season as well before the pandemic shutdown.

In the shortened 2020/2021 season, McCulloch played in all five games the Mustangs would play and tallied three assists in the process.

While injuries limited McCulloch to just 37 regular season games, McCulloch still scored 10 goals and added 13 assists for 23 points, still good for eighth on the team. The southern Alberta product join the team in game five of the playoffs and his impact was felt almost immediately as he tallied an assist in that game and would score and add two more assists in game six. McCulloch’s presence in corners, and in front of the net were a huge asset to the Mustangs through his three years with the club and it’s sure to continue to be an asset for McCulloch wherever he plays next.

#47 – Marco Lopez (Grand Prairie, AB)

The graduating player with the most SJHL games played under his belt (114), Marco Lopez had consistent improvement through his three years as a Mustang.

As a rookie in 2019/2020, Marco Lopez had 17 points for Melfort, including nine goals. His nine goals also featured a massive four goal performance against Humboldt. He would play a total of 47 games that year, including one in the playoffs as the Mustangs season was cut short.

In 2020/2021, which was cut even more short than 2019/2020, Lopez played in four games with the Mustangs and scored once, and added an assist.

After missing the first two games of the season, Lopez played in all but one other game in 2021/2022. During 55 regular season games, Lopez scored 23 goals, and added 25 assists for 48 points. His 23 goals were third best on the team this season. He added four goals and an assists during the teams seven playoff games. During his time as a Mustangs, Lopez scored, and scored a lot of big goals, something he is sure to do at the next level, wherever that may be.

#44 – Tye Scherger (Macklin, SK)

The man with arguably the greatest moustache in the SJHL, Tye Scherger was a fan favourite as a member of the Melfort Mustangs.

Scherger joined the club from the Olds Grizzly’s in the AJHL in the shortened 2020/2021 season. He played five games for the Mustangs, scoring one goal and adding an assist.

This past season, Scherger dawned the ‘A’ as an Assistant Captain for the Mustangs and led by example as his hard work and dedication were to be admired. Scherger scored six goals and added 13 assists this year, and also racked up 128 penalty minutes, the most on the team. He would also score two goals in seven games in the playoffs. Scherger’s tenacity, and fearlessness on the ice will serve him greatly at the next level, and in the real world.

#21 – Carter Anderson (Langley, B.C.)

It was a short audition for Carter Anderson, but he stuck in Melfort and became a big-time producer for the club.

In 2020/2021, Anderson played in just three games during the shortened season where he was held scoreless, but he came back to Melfort for the 2021/2022 season in a big way.

Anderson scored 20 goals, and added 27 assists in 54 games for the Mustangs in 2021/2022, while also adding two assists in just two playoff games before an injury. Anderson was always committed to the gym and it should in his strength and speed on the ice. His smarts and ability to produce offensively will be an excellent asset for him wherever he plays next.

#45 – Curtis Hammond (Fort St. John, B.C.)

If you were to look in the “Goal” column of SJHL gamesheets this season, Curtis Hammond’s name is likely to pop up a few times.

Hammond scored 28 goals, and 22 assists in 56 games for the Mustangs this season. His 28 goals including six multi-goal games, and one game that saw him notch five goals against the Notre Dame Hounds on Jan. 28. Hammond also scored three times, and added four assists during the Mustangs seven game playoff series against Yorkton.

Hammond’s “clutch gene” and scoring ability made him a valuable asset to the team this season and Hammond will fit in wherever he plays next.

#15 – Nolan Doell (Martensville, SK)

A November acquisition, Nolan Doell made his presence known as a major piece of the Melfort Mustangs.

After being acquired on Nov. 23, Doell scored 15 goals and added 11 assists in just 25 games for the Mustangs, and was the teams top scorer on the season. He tallied another four points in five games during the playoffs.

Doell is committed to play for Red Deer Polytechnic and will be an important piece to their roster for the coming seasons.

#16 – Mark Snarr (Calgary, AB)

Another November acquisition, Mark Snarr’s impact on the Mustang blue-line could be felt immediately.

Acquired on Nov. 23 as well, Snarr would notch three assists in his first three games with the Mustangs before an injury knocked him out until the new year. In 23 games with the Mustangs, Snarr would ultimately score two goals and add 11 assists in just 23 games while also playing heavy minutes on defence in every situation. He would also add five assists in seven playoff games.

Snarr’s leadership on the blue-line, and excellent all-around play will be well suited at the next level that he plays.

The Mustangs would like to thank the 20-year-old for all their time, effort, and commitment with the Mustangs this season, and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours within hockey, and away from the rink.