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Archive for August, 2010

Melfort Mustangs Training Camp

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 31, 2010

The Melfort Mustangs training camp may start on Friday but the veterans and top prospects will get an early start. They will be holding a “Captain’s Practice” tomorrow and Thursday at 8:15 PM which will be run by newly named capatain Owen Roschuk. He will take the players through various skating, puck handling and shooting drills.

Camp officially opens on Friday. Registration for the older group is at 10:00 AM while the younger group will have to wait until 6:00 PM.

The practices will be from 11:00 to 3:00 PM on Friday. The team will then hold fitness testing and on-ice sessions from 8-11.

The scrimmages will start at 9 AM on Saturday with the games being officiated. They will run all the way up until 9 PM. The refereed scrimmages start up again at 9 AM on Sunday and run until noon. The inter-squad game will be at 6:00 PM Sunday. The intersquad game is $2 dollars to attend while the exhibition games will be $5 dollars for adults and $2 dollars for students.

Expect about 80 players to start at the camp. Head coach Darrell Mann expects to be down to about 25 older kids left at the end of camp and enough younger ones to play in the Rookie Game against Nipawin on Monday September 6th at the palace.

Mustangs players and prospects that are attending WHL camps are:

Denton King (Melfort Mustangs) – Swift Current Broncos
Carter Berg (Melfort Mustangs) – Calgary Hitmen
Levi Cable (Yorkton Harvest) – Kootenay Ice
Dustin Skilliter (Yorkton Harvest) – Calgary Hitmen
Jay Hudon (Melfort Mustangs) – Tri-City Americans

The Mustangs will play 6 exhibion games in 7 days so it will be a very busy time for both the coaches and players.

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Nipawin Hawks Training Camp

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 31, 2010

A lot of questions have been asked about the upcoming training camps for our teams so today I’ll start with Nipawin and hopefully answer some questions.

On September 2nd, players will register from 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM, then there will be a players meeting at 9:00 PM. Everyone will be sent home to get some rest after the meeting.

On September 3rd, the young players will practice from 9 AM – 10:15 AM, then the older players will skate right after. The scrimmages will start at 4:00 PM. The schedule is the same for the 3rd, 4th and 5th. There will not be the traditional Black & Gold game as in the past. Cuts will begin after the scrimmages on the 5th.

Expect about 70 players at camp this year and head coach Doug Johnson would like to be down to about 26 or 27 players by the time the weekend is over. All ice-time is at the Jubilee Arena because the Cage is still under renovations. All scrimmages during the weekend are free.

Hawks players and prospects that are attending WHL camps are:

Tanner Dusyk (Nipawin Hawks) – Regina Pats
Eli Lichtenwald (Saskatoon Blazers) – Prince George Cougars
Stephen Klein (Saskatoon Blazers) – Prince George Cougars
Tyler Paslawski (Tisdale Trojans) – Prince Albert Raiders
Greg Kost (Saskatoon Blazers) – Saskatoon Blades
Gage Rapitta (Yorkton Harvest) – Tri-City Americans

The first exhibition game against Melfort is Monday September 6th at the Palace. It will be an all-rookie game. Tickets for the Hawks exhibition games are $5 dollars each. Kids under 12 will get in free.

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SJHL Season Schedule Breakdown

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 31, 2010

Pre-Season Games:
Melfort: 6 (3 home & 3 away)
Nipawin: 4 (2 home & 2 away)
Humboldt 5 (3 home & 2 away)

Regular Season

September Games:
Melfort 5 (3 home & 2 road)
Nipawin 3 (0 home & 3 away)
Humboldt 6 (2 home & 4 away)

October Games:
Melfort 12 (5 home & 7 away)
Nipawin 13 (8 home & 5 away)
Humboldt 11 (5 home & 6 away)

November Games:
Melfort 10 (4 home & 6 away)
Nipawin 10 ( 5 home & 5 away)
Humboldt 12 (5 home & 7 away)

December Games:
Melfort 8 (4 home & 2 away plus 2 at showcase)
Nipawin 9 (4 home & 3 away plus 2 showcase)
Humboldt 9 (3 home & 4 away plus 2 at showcase)

January Games:
Melfort 13 6 home & 7 away)
Nipawin 14 (7 home & 7 away)
Humboldt 11 (7 home & 4 away)

February Games:
Melfort 10 (6 home & 4 away)
Nipawin 9 (4 home & 5 away)
Humboldt 9 (6 home & 3 away)

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Elgar Peterson Poll

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 30, 2010

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Hawks New Office

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 26, 2010

The grand opening was last week for the Nipawin Hawks new business office. If you’re looking for season tickets, information on the Super Lotto or anything else along those lines, you can phone Peggy Fyfe at 862-2753 or head down there. It is open Monday to Friday between 1 & 5 and is located at 3rd Street North. Peggy told me yesterday that the office will be open until at least November 20th because of the Lotto, then the organization will decide whether or not to keep it open on a steady basis. Marketing Director Jim Chute is also temporarily using the office as the Cage continues to be renovated. The coaching office, where Doug Johnson and Duane Thorpe reside, remains at the Cage however for obvious reasons.

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Broncos Trade 20 Year Goaltender

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 25, 2010

The Humboldt Broncos are down to one 20 year goalie. They traded back-up netminder Kirk Croswell to the Portage Terriers for future considerations. The Nanaimo, BC native posted a 5-8-0-1 record with a 3.13 GAA and .906 save percentage with Humboldt last year. The move comes as no surprise as head coach Dean Brockman did not want to have two 20 year olds in net this season when they are in need of a returning one for next year’s Royal Bank Cup. Reigning SJHL MVP Andrew Bodnarchuk will be back with the Green & Gold for a 4th season when training camp starts on September 3rd.

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Huskie Fall Classic A Success

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 25, 2010

The 11th annual Huskie Fall Classic was not only a fun time, but very successful as well. When I left Melfort in the morning for Saskatoon, it was cold and cloudy but by the time I hit Toon Town, it was a great day. The golfing was a good time as well. Everyone golfed in groups of sixes ( 3 on each team) and it was a best ball format. I golfed with our General Sales Manager Dave Marcoux and Sales Executive Jim Zaiachkowski. We went up against 3 superior golfers including a couple of ex-Huskies. Bret Thompson (ex-quarterback) and Brian Guebert (ex-lineman) along with Curt (sorry I don’t remember his last name). We shot an 84 which was tied for worst in the tournament while they were in the middle of the pack with a 69. We shared some laughs, beers and a great day of golf. There was a delicious steak and chicken supper afterwards.

Back to the purpose of the event however. It raised money for the Huskie Football Scholarship Foundation and is considered one of the major fundraising events of the year. Over 140 golfers competed and I didn’t hear any of them complaining. There were also NHL jerseys, sticks and an NFL signed football auctioned off. There was also a draw for a Saskatchewan Roughriders 100th Anniversary watch to be won by someone in the crowd. Emcee Wray Morrison drew long-time Huskie supporter David Dube’s name. As always, David showed a lot of class and asked to have it drawn again. Eventually, it was decided that the item should be auctioned off. I think it went for about $300 dollars as Morrison tried his hand at being the auctioneer.

Just before supper, Laurence Nixon came up to the microphone and thanked everyone for their support. Then head coach Brian Towriss also said a few words. He talked about how impressed he is with the team so far and said, ” we’ve already had about a dozen injuries in camp or at least it seems like it.” He believes that this is a championship team.

Once again, the Huskies non-conference game against Western is just 2 days away. If you can’t make it to the game, you can listen to it on CK750 or www.ck750.com.

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Mustangs Add Grit

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 23, 2010

The Melfort Mustangs have acquired left winger Connor Bradshaw from the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for future considerations. The 5’11” Medicine Hat native should add some grit and toughness to the line up. Head coach Darrell Mann said that this was the type of player he has been looking for. As an 18 year old last season, Bradshaw had 3 goals and 6 assists in 40 games and compiled 91 penalty minutes. He also had 2 points in 4 playoff games and 15 minutes in penalties.

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Dathan Thomas Breaks Leg In Camp

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 23, 2010

It was an unsettling feeling yesterday watching U of S Huskies running back Dathan Thomas walking on crutches by the Dogs bench during their morning practice. He then made his way to the stands to show support for the team that he was going to play for this season. I walked over to him and his first words out of his mouth to me were, “Bad luck… bad luck” as he shook his head.

We all thought the scene was set for a great comeback year after Thomas sat out all of last year and half the year before because of a serious knee injury. Now it’s a broken bone in his right leg. All the talk about Thomas’ comeback were dashed in the Huskies very first practice on Saturday. He said his leg got rolled on and he knew it was bad. He said that on a frustration scale, it’s a 10 out of 10.

So what about the future of Thomas playing football. He said it was a clean break on his shin which was a small amount of good news. He is out until at least after the bye and maybe for the whole season. He said that he can come back next year if he chooses to go that route by taking some extra classes.

The one break (no pun intended) for the Huskies is that they have depth in that position. Jeff Hassler will now have a chance to take over as the number 1 guy. Head coach Brian Towriss raves about Hassler’s ability. He was talking in the clubhouse after the morning practice yesterday about how Hassler was making tacklers miss. And when Hassler needs a breather, Ben Coakwell is more than capable of filling in.

I think it’s safe to say that we are all hoping we haven’t seen Dathan play his last game of CIS football but we all know that is a real possibility. It’s not just his ability on the field that impresses people, it’s also the fact that he’s, well simply put, ” a real nice guy”.

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Hassler Happy With Role

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 21, 2010

Running back Jeff Hassler may be entering training camp as the #2 guy behind Dathan Thomas but he’s ok with that. There’s no ego when it comes to the young talented power runner. Yes he averaged close to 15 yards per carry in his senior year of high school and led the Huskies in rushing yards and yards per carry last year despite missing the first half of the season with an injury, but he believes Thomas should be listed as number 1. He said, “As of right now he’s slotted number one and he should be as a returner from what he has done with the Huskies already. It’s going to be a pretty deadly combination and a balanced attack. When he needs a blow, I can come in there and give him some time off. I just feel with the combination of us two and even Ben Coakwell, teams aren’t really going to know where we’re going to be attacking from.” Jeff doesn’t need to be the go-to guy to be happy on this team. And he is no different from anyone else. Everybody on the team wants the same thing… to win. It’s all part of the “All In” concept that the Dogs have adopted. That’s something that seperates good teams from championship teams.

Obviously it was a disappointing start to running back Jeff Hassler’s CIS career last season as his nagging hamstring problem he initially got running the 40 yard dash sidelined him until midway through the regular season. But when he finally got in the line up, wow did he ever impress. He showed off his power running skills as it was rare for one tackler to bring him down. Sometimes it took 3 and 4 and he was in the secondary by that time. If he played a full season, many think he could have been up for rookie of the year.

The 5 foot 10 inch 195 opounder still has areas of his game he’d like to improve on. He certainly knows what to do when the football is in his hands but he wants to get better in other areas. Hassler says, “Probably my pass protection and my overall awareness of what’s going on with the offensive line and the defence before the play. Running the ball is more of a natural thing but there is always other areas of skill that I could work on.” He said the pace of the defence was one of the biggest adjustments he had to deal with. Jeff said, “In high school where you would have a 30 or 40 yard run or maybe even a touchdown, the space here is closed down so much faster and it would only end up being a 7 or 8 yard gain.”

Hassler, as I said before, is a power runner but shows off the skilled part of his game once he breaks the line of scrimmage. He likes to go north-south when he takes the hand off but once he’s past the lineman the finesse part of his game takes place. You can always count on positive yardage because of that. His stats back that up as he only had 3 yards in losses last year.

The Business student had been working in the off-season for David Dube (CEO of the Concorde Group of Companies). Dube has been instrumental with funding for various events and projects for the Huskies over the years and is still a huge fan of the team.

Jeff has the right attitude and is continuing to work hard in the early days of training camp. If all 3 talented running backs can keep the right attitude, the running game will get a big boost from last year where it struggled at times. Hassler, who is entering his 2nd year of eligibility knows that his time will come when he will be the number 1 go-to guy.

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Hawks-Mustangs Reverse Home & Home

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 21, 2010

I’m sure everyone knows about it by now as the league website has made the change but the original pre-season home and home match up between Melfort and Nipawin was changed. I waited to get confirmation why and Doug Johnson called me Thursday and told me that Melfort couldn’t get ice for the Tuesday game. So the schedule is Nipawin @ Melfort on Monday September 6th and Melfort @ Nipawin on Tuesday September 7th.

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Mustangs Expecting To Have A Large Camp

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 18, 2010

The Melfort Mustangs might have a lot of returning players coming to camp this year but that hasn’t stopped them from bringing in a lot of players this Labor Day weekend. Expect about 80 players participating which is a little surprising considering Melfort will have 17 returnees. Head coach Darrell Mann said the reason for it was to make sure the veterans don’t think that it’s a free ride for them. He said, “We’re looking for some young guys to come in and push our players. All spots are wide open for our hockey club. In saying that, we have some 20 year olds coming in from different leagues and we think that will make the competition in camp really fierce.”

After camp ends, there is only about a week of evaluating before pre-season is over. Melfort will play 6 games in 7 days in what will seem like a world-wind exhibition season. It starts with a home and home series with Nipawin September 6th & 7th. Humboldt and La Ronge are the only 2 other places they have to visit before the regular season begins.

The Melfort Mustangs are in the same boat as the Flin Flon Bombers. Who is going to start in net? Jay Hudon will return for a 2nd season but Darrell Mann has stated he’d like a 20 year old to start the season and Hudon will be an 18 year old this year. Mike Reagen is in the same position after losing Mike Weninger. He has Klynt Spencer but it is not known if he is ready to carry the team.

The plan for cutting the players will be to get down to about 30 players after camp, then to about 23 players after their 6 exhibition games. Btw, the returning players include 10 forwards 6 defence and 1 goaltender.

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Mitch Friesen Hopes Off-Season Work Pays Off

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 17, 2010

All Huskies players in the off-season have committed to their off-season workout regime which is referred to as Bart U, however nobody is looking forward to making a bigger impact than defensive back Mitch Friesen. He is in a secondary that lost both its starting corners. Grant Shaw made the Toronto Argonauts roster as a kicker while Jon Krahenbil has graduated. Friesen still belives the secondary will be as solid as last year. He said, “We should be real strong in the secondary. Keenan (MacDougall) and Bryce (McCall) are back in the middle. Got a couple new corners, Halseth played a little bit last year, he’ll lock down the weak side of things. Luke Thiel and Woytowich will be battling it out on the strong side. There’s a bunch of other guys battling it out as well. Harley Irwin especially but there’s a lot of depth.”

Training camp is only 4 days away and everyone is wanting to get things underway. Friesen is no different. He trained 4 times a week at Bart U as well as doing his own stuff. It consisted of a lot of running which includes a lot of “speed & agility training” which he needs as a defensive back. As for camp itself, the 5 foot 11 inch 187 pounder says, “It’s been a long off-season the way we finished last year. I’m excited to get started here.”

Friesen did a great job for the Dogs last season making 21 tackles and also had 2 interceptions. Talking about last season, he said, “I had a great time, it’s a great bunch of guys. The Huskies have always had a great team so it was fun to be a part of. As for an adjustment, the game itself is a lot faster but I think settled I in there about halfway through the season and did pretty well after that.” And did he ever settle down. He unleashed a couple of big hits that I’m sure the receivers are still feeling the effects of.

The 2nd year Kinesiology student also wants to add leadership to his list of roles. He is entering his 3rd year of eligibility (2nd year with the team) because of his 3 years with the Saskatoon Hilltops. Friesen says he also wants improve parts of his game such as quicker reads and to be able to be more comfortable right from the start of the season. A team goal is to go all the way to the vanier Cup but more immediately take care of Calgary in Game 1. Last year’s loss in the Canada West final is still fresh in his mind. Personally, he wants to be more aggresive, stay ahead of the play and catch every ball that comes his way.

He wants to transfer over to Education from Kinesiology but will be waiting until the Spring to do that. Meanwhile, Mitch won’t be waiting much longer to unleash his first hit… Saturday at about 9:00 AM sounds about right. That’s when two-a-days begin for the Green & White.

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Zach Hart Looking Forward To Second Season

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 14, 2010

Defensive lineman Zach Hart did everything that was asked of him last season and he’s looking to give even more in the upcoming season. Hart led the Dogs last year with 6 quarterback sacks and also got credit for a forced fumble. His 29.5 tackles ranked him 6th on the squad. It’s more than just numbers for the Saskatoon native however. Hart wants to improve on all aspects of his game. He said, “For me, it’s the whole relentless to the ball thing and always getting off the ball (fast) and giving a 110% each play. That’s really a main focus for myself. Just never sell yourself short.” It really was a remarkably good season considering it was his first in the CIS but having played 2 years of junior helped out immensely.

The 6′ 2″” 255 pounder has been working in construction over the summer to help pay the bills. He has also been working out consistantly (5 or 6 times a week according to him). As with most of the team, he is doing the “Bart U” program.

Just like most of his teammates, Zach can’t wait to get started at training camp. He says, “It’s going to be great. We’ve waited since May to put the pads on. When you train all off-season in the heat and I guess the rain this year, you’re busting it the whole time and you just want to put the pads on and hit somebody.”

The Huskies have a lot of talent along the defensive line this year. Players like Levi Steinhauer, Joel Suetter, Dave Rybinski, Carter Kolybaba, Stephen Kovach, Vaughn Rice and newcomer Ben Rush. Hart says it will be tough to get a lot of playing time because of all the talent.

The 21 year old engineering student wants “redemption” for last year’s loss to Calgary in the Canada West final. He believes a Vanier Cup championship is not out of the question. It’s been 12 years since the U of S has held it above their heads. Many of the returning vets still have their final game last year in the back of their minds. It should only make them hungrier this year.

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Nixon Looking Forward To Training Camp

Posted by Darryl Skender on August 12, 2010

As a player going into his 5th year of eligibility as well as a starting job guaranteed, you might think that U of S Huskies QB Laurence Nixon would be dreading the thought of two-a-day workouts. After all, what does he have to prove in training camp? He said he has things to prove to himself and that he is looking forward to training camp which starts on August 20th. The two-a-days start the next day.

As for his off-season, he says things couldn’t be going better. Nixon said, “Summer’s been going really well. The good thing is we have had really good numbers going out to all of our throw-in sessions which have been twice and even 3 times a week. In the last 3 weeks, we have had so many guys out that we’ve been able to do some full-scale stuff… some 7-on-7 and 8-on-8. You can tell the guys are really committed.” He has also been working out a lot as well as working at Zu.com for Ryan Lejbak, who has been an integral part of the Huskies organization (such as being the chair for the 10th annual Dogs Breakfast and promoting the team through his Huskie Outsider blog to name just a couple of things).

With just over a week until camp starts, expectations are high, just as they are every year. The goal is exactly the same to the Green & White as well… a trip to the Vanier Cup. Let’s not get too far ahead yet though. Training camp is a very important part of the football season and Laurence knows that and can’t wait for it. I asked him if he was looking forward to the grind. He said, “Yeah, actually I am. It’s my last year and it’s something you dread in a way but you’re pumped for the season. You don’t normally look forward to two-a-days but I can’t wait to get on the field and throw the ball around and just be with the guys again. I think it’s going to be a special year and I’m really excited.”

The 6 foot 200 pound Richmond native knows that training camp will be a time for him to tweak his skills at arguably football’s toughest position. Nixon said, “There’s definitely some things I can still work on, especially with Shnides (Offensive coordinator Brent Schneider). He’s always looking for something in my game to work on and now we’re going to have 3 younger quaterbacks in camp and I’m sure I’ll be able to help with little things here and there as well. They’ve been coming out to the throwing sessions 2 or 3 times a week as well. We’re already starting to get some developing going.”

Nixon, who graduated in his studies (Arts & Science) last year, will be taking the minimum 9 credits this year to be eligible to play his final year. He told me last season that despite being a BC boy, there is no other place in Canada he would rather play than in Saskatoon. He considers himself a prairie guy from the coast and would love nothing better than to go out a winner and bring the Dogs their first championship since 1998.

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