Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Thank you 20-year-olds

The Melfort Mustangs season came to a close on Wednesday, April 5 in the second round of the SJHL Playoffs as the Mustangs fell to the Battlefords North Stars in four games. However, a six game win over the La Ronge Ice Wolves allowed the Mustangs to play in the SJHL’s Final four.

The regular season saw the Mustangs finish second in the Sherwood Division, and fourth in the SJHL with a 31-16-5-4 record, good for 71 points. There were also three players that finished the year in the Top-20 in scoring in the league. Ben Tkachuk finished ninth (56 points), Dawson Leroux was 15th (54), and Zac Somers was 16th (52). Kevin Minnoch was also third in scoring among defenders (43) and first in goals (13).

While we look back on the year that was, it’s also time to honour the eight players that have played their last game of Junior hockey with the Melfort Mustangs.

#9 – Ben Tkachuk (Gronlid, SK)

A second generation Mustang, and second generation captain, Ben Tkachuk spent four seasons with the club, and finishes his SJHL with 183 career games played across the regular season and playoffs. That has him tied for 35th on the Mustangs all-time list. His 147 points are tied for 26th on the teams all-time list as well.

Joining the Mustangs in 2019/2020, Tkachuk played in 56 games, notching 21 points. He was ninth on the team in scoring that year, and led all first-year Mustangs in that category. He added one goal in four playoff games that year before the season was shut down.

In the 2020/2021 COVID-shortened season, Tkachuk was cooking to start the year as he notched three goals in the five games the team played, but the season would barely get underway before it was cancelled.

Returning for his third season, Tkachuk was named captain in 2021/2022 and was a point-per-game player that season notching 56 points in 56 games as the Mustangs won the Sherwood Division. He also added three points in seven playoff games as the Mustangs fell to Yorkton in seven games.

As a 20-year-old this past season, Tkachuk was the Captain once again and shined as the Mustangs leading scorer. He finished ninth in the SJHL with 56 points in 45 games this season. In the two rounds of playoff games the Mustangs played, Tkachuk would notch seven points, tied for second on the team

Committed to the University of Saskatchewan for next season, Tkachuk’s leadership on and off the ice, combined with his hockey ability will serve him well in his next steps of hockey and life.

#29 – Joel Favreau (Prince Albert, SK)

Ranking in the top ten of Mustangs netminders in all-time games played, Joel Favreau’s time in blue and green has come to a close.

Joining the Mustangs for the 2020/2021 season, Favreau burst onto the scene in two games that year. While he was 1-1, he stopped 51 of 54 shots he saw in those two games, good for a .944 save-percentage.

Then, in 2021/2022, Favreau won 14 games for the Mustangs, and earned one shutout as well. He had a 2.74 goals-against-average, and a .902 save-percentage. Although, it was the 21/22 playoffs where Joel Favreau made his mark for the Mustangs. In the seven game series against Yorkton, Favreau sported a 2.26 goals-against-average, and a .926 save percentage.

Favreau continued to be a star for the Mustangs this past season. He won 14 games again, and earned three shutouts. He ranked third in the league in goals-against-average with a 2.56 mark, while his .913 save-percentage was tied for fourth in the league. In the playoffs, Favreau was stellar in the first round against La Ronge, and finished the 10 game playoff run with a .909 save percentage and a 2.63 goals-against-average.

Favreau’s athleticism and effort to make every save he can possibly make made him one of the most entertaining goalies in the SJHL to watch. He is committed to SUNY-Geneseo (NCAA III) for next season, and they sure have a great goalie to build with.

#4 – Leyton Holoien (Emerald Park, SK)

Another three-year Mustangs, Leyton Holoien’s career with the club has come to a close.

Joining the club for the shortened 2020/2021 season, Holoien played just two games that season.

In the 2021/2022 season, Holoien progressively got better and better as the season went on. He earned 20 points across 45 games that season, good for second on the team among defencemen.

His progression would become exponential in 2022/2023 as Holoien finished with 10 goals and 29 assists for 39 points this past season, second on the team again by defencemen, but he was seventh in the SJHL in points.

The long, lanky, and skilled defenders skillset is one coveted by clubs across the sport. Holoien will certainly be a crucial piece wherever his hockey career takes him next.

#23 – Dawson Leroux (Lethbridge, AB)

Over the last two seasons, there weren’t too many games where Dawson Leroux’s name was not listed on the roster. Out of a possible 131 games, Dawson Leroux played in 129 of them during his career with the Melfort Mustangs.

Joining the club after a two year AJHL career with the Olds Grizzly’s, Leroux fit right in to the Mustangs organization. His 43 points in 58 games during the 2021/2022 season sat him fifth on the team that season. He added four points in seven playoff games that season as well.

Looking to take another step this season as a 20-year-old, Leroux was named an Assistant Captain and shined for the Mustangs. His 54 points were second on the team, and his 22 goals were also second on the team during the regular season. Leroux added four points in ten playoff games as well this season, including a massive overtime winner against La Ronge in game five.

Leroux’s all-around ability to score, make plays, and do whatever it takes will certainly serve him well in his next steps in hockey and life.

#26 – Boston Maxwell (Saskatoon, SK)

A journeyman in the SJHL, Boston Maxwell found a home in Melfort and the community welcomed him with open arms.

Originally a draft pick of the Mustangs back in 2017, it took Maxwell a few years to dawn the blue and green, but every game he suited up, played with passion, and energy like no other.

Of his 169 SJHL games, 119 of them were in a Mustangs uniform. He joined the club prior to the 2021/2022 season from the Kindersley Klippers and notched 19 points that year in 52 games. He added another two points in 7 playoff games last year.

This season, Maxwell was a leader and showed with his demeanor on and off the ice. He tallied 26 points in 51 games, and added three more in nine playoff games.

Since 2017, the year he entered the league, Maxwell’s 511 penalty minutes are second among all players.

On and off the ice, Maxwell was a fan favourite, and while his tough demeanor showed on the ice, his heart of gold was felt off the ice by fans. He will most definitely succeed wherever his next steps take him.

#55 – Kevin Minnoch (Sherwood Park, AB)

No other defenceman in the SJHL was named Defenceman of the Week by the league more times than Kevin Minnoch was this season. He was recognized for his efforts in three weeks this season, and was also named Defenceman of the Month in December and March.

Joining the Mustangs prior to the 2021/2022 season, Minnoch played in 27 games that year for the Mustangs notching nine points. He added three assists in seven playoff games that season.

In 2022/2023, Minnoch shined on the Mustang blue line, leading the team in defenceman points with 43 in 50 games. His 13 goals were tied for the league lead among defencemen as well. He was a star in the playoffs too notching six points in nine games.

A quiet leader, but showing tons of skill on the ice. Wherever hockey leads for Minnoch, he’s sure to succeed there.

#25 – Hayden Tuba (South Delta, B.C.)

Another fan favourite due to his hard hitting play, and ability to put up offence, Hayden Tubas career as a Melfort Mustang has come to a close.

Joining the team over the summer, heading into the 2021/2022 season, Tuba played in 38 games for the Mustangs in that season, notching 18 points. Due to injury, Tuba unfortunately did not play in the playoffs that season.

This year however, when he joined the club after recovering from an injury, Tuba was another key cog in what was one of the best defensive groups in the SJHL. Tuba scored ten goals and added 25 assists this season, for 35 points in 48 games. He would also go on to add an assist in 10 playoff games.

A do-it-all type of defenceman, Tuba will be able to fit in any hockey system he goes to next.

#24 – Clarke Huxley (Calgary, AB)

While it was only a season and a half with the Melfort Mustangs, Clarke Huxley sure made his mark in blue and green.

Joining the club at the Trade Deadline during the 2021/2022 season, Huxley played 20 regular season games that season and notched eight points. However, the playoffs were where Huxley made his name and he earned nine points in the seven game series against Yorkton, earning him the teams Playoff MVP Award.

Earning a letter this year as an Assistant Captain, Huxley was as consistent as they come with his effort and production. He scored 16 goals and added 25 assists for 41 points in 46 games this year in a do-it-all role. In the playoffs, Huxley earned five points in 10 games.

Huxley’s leadership on and off the ice, and his willingness to do whatever it took for the team are characteristics that will serve him well in whatever is next for him.

The Mustangs would like to that the graduating players for all their time, effort, and commitment to the Mustangs throughout their careers and we wish them all the best in their future endeavors on and off the ice.