CALGARY, Alta. – Since a Canadian National Junior A Championship was first awarded back in the spring of 1971, the province of Saskatchewan has certainly had its fair share of winners.
In nearly five decades of on-ice competition, clubs from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League have hoisted either the Centennial Cup or RBC Cup as the top Jr. A team in the country on 10 occasions.
Here’s a look at some of the happenings in the SJHL during the 2019-20 campaign in the weekly league-by-league look across the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
President: Bill Chow
REGULAR SEASON: The 12-team SJHL saw the Battlefords North Stars pace the pack with a solid 92-point year that featured them producing a league-best 45-11-2-0 overall record.
In the past five years, the North Stars have finished either first or second in regular season play and also boast two Canalta Cup league playoff titles.
They were followed by the Flin Flon Bombers, who finished 13 points in arrears of Battlefords in 2019-20 after posting a 36-15-7-0 mark.
TOP SCORERS: SJHL Most Valuable Player Chantz Petruic of the Yorkton Terriers had a tremendous final year of Jr. A hockey, topping all league skaters in offensive production.
His 109 points, in just 52 outings, were 21 more than his closest rivals while his 58 goals were the second-most of any player in the entire CJHL this season.
Meanwhile, the Flin Flon combo of Cole Rafuse and Alec Malo had 88 points apiece for the Bombers on the year for finish tied for second in SJ scoring.
Leading all league defencemen in offensive numbers was James Philpott of the La Ronge Ice Wolves.
The veteran blueliner played at nearly a point-per-game clip from the back end with 51 in 55 games, including 11 tallies.
TOP TENDERS: Shawn Parkinson of the Melfort Mustangs and Keenan Rancier of the Estevan Bruins led all SJHL netminders in victories of the campaign with 25 each.
Rookie stopper Liam McGarva of the La Ronge Ice Wolves impressed in his initial year in Saskatchewan, finishing third in wins with 23, which topped all rookies.
Among those who finished the regular season in the SJHL, Parkinson led the way in goals-against average at 2.36 while Berk Berkeliev from the Melville Millionaires, and his .930 save percentage, led the way in that category.
Parkinson’s run also saw him lead in shutouts with five.
SJHL SNIPPETS: The Battlefords North Stars were slotted ninth in the final CJHL Top 20 Rankings of the season while the Flin Flon Bombers garnered Honourable Mention status. … The Bombers were first in the league in power play proficiency at 27.9% under head coach and general manager Mike Reagan. … The North Stars ended up on top on the penalty kill at 86.3%. … Extra play saw La Ronge pick seven victories in overtime, which was the most in the SJHL. … The Yorkton Terriers meanwhile boasted a SJHL-high five shootout wins. … League MVP Chantz Petruic will be heading Carleton University in Ottawa to play U SPORTS hockey for the Ravens while Rookie of the Year Tristan Lemyre has committed to NCAA D-I power, the University of Denver. … The SJHL presently boasts 26 players from this season who have earned opportunities to play collegiate hockey in either Canada or the United States. … Netminder Ross Hawryluk of the Nipawin Hawks represented the SJHL at the 2020 CJHL Prospects Game in Hamilton, Ont., and did not allow a goal in nearly 30 minutes of work as part of a Team West victory. … 2019-20 SJHL Award Winners: MVP: Chantz Petruic, (F) Yorkton Terriers; Top Forward: Chantz Petruic, Yorkton Terriers; Top Defenceman: Matthew Fletcher, Battlefords North Stars; Top Goaltender: Berk Berkeliev, Melville Millionaires; Rookie of the Year: Tristan Lemyre, (F) Flin Flon Bombers; Coach of the Year: Brayden Klimosko, Battlefords North Stars & Kevin Kaminski, La Ronge Ice Wolves (Co-recipients); Regular Season champion: Battlefords North Stars.
With files from Mike Stackhouse, Communications (SJHL)