Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Weekend Losses Still Show Mustang Improvement

The Mustangs had a tough weekend as the top two teams in the SJHL came to town for back to back games. Humboldt was up first, playing the Mustangs on Saturday night after a tough loss to the Millionaires.

Melfort has had an interesting history this season against the Broncos, getting blown out in the first contest, but forcing a shoot-out in the second.  Saturday’s game was more reminiscent of the second game, with both teams holding each other off the scoreboard for the entire first period. Rylan Freed (assisted by Justin Ball and Sam Houston) and Tanner Zentner (assisted by Rylan Freed and Adam Hergott) would score in the 2nd, while the team would give up one resulting in a 2-1 score heading into the second intermission.

The third period would see Humboldt score twice, and Melfort fail to answer despite a valiant effort with a pulled goalie. Ryan Ternes was between the pipes and he stopped 19/22 shots on the night. It was an unexpectedly clean game, with a total of three penalties in the contest and only one to the home team ‘Stangs.

Sunday night Estevan came to the Northern Lights Palace looking for a win to tie Humboldt for first overall in the SJHL. The match would also be Evan Plotnik’s first night back in net for the Mustangs after a brief stint with the Melville Millionaires. The first period saw both teams score twice, with Melfort’s offense coming from Dakota Boutin (assisted by Kalem Zary and Tanner Zentner) and Kalem Zary (assisted by Wyatt Hinson and Tyler Heidt).

The second was more of the same, as each team registered two more goals with Melfort’s coming from Zentner (from Boutin and Zary) on the power play and Rock Ruschkowski (from Sam Houston) on the penalty kill. By the time the second period wound down the teams were tied at four goals apiece.

The third period was a flurry of action, as Estevan scored early on the power play to take the lead. Melfort would answer less than six minutes later with the tying goal coming from Miles Warkentine (from Boutin and Adam Hergott). Estevan got back on the scoreboard twice leaving Melfort two goals back in the last minute of the third period. With their goalie pulled and an extra attacker Melfort displayed some true grit and determination for the entire last minute netting two goals to force overtime. Melfort’s last two goals came from Zentner (assisted by Zary and Braxx George) and Warkentine (from Zary and Andrew Thompson).

Overtime did not go Melfort’s way, as Estevan scored the game winner one minute and forty-six seconds into the extra frame. Plotnik’s first game back as a Mustang saw him go 18/26 on the night, while Zary had an exceptional night with one goal and four assists.

Despite losing back to back games Melfort did not play like an eleventh place team. Only losing by one goal in back to back nights to the top two teams in the league is generally not what a second last place team does. Melfort’s record currently sits at 5-10-1-2 which sits them 11th in the 12 team league. The Mustangs will be back in action this week as they have a home and home with the Flin Flon Bombers  starting on Wednesday in Flin Flon. Next home game action is Thursday November 3rd against the Bombers at the Northern Lights Palace. Puck drop is 7:30