Three games on slate for first day of SJHL/MJHL Showcase

By Martin Martinson
January 14, 2019 - 2:00pm

Day one of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League/Manitoba Junior Hockey League Showcase kicked off with an 11 a.m. matchup between the SJHL’s Team Schwartz and Team Garbutt of the MJHL.

Setting the bar high right from the get-go, the first game of the 2019 Showcase held at Co-operators Centre in Regina, lived up to the hype, ending as a 4-3 shootout win for team MJHL.

Hotly contested and fast-paced throughout, the first matchup of the day saw a little bit of everything. This included a penalty-shot by Nipawin Hawks’ forward, Jake Tremblay with just four-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation time to tie the score and force the shootout to decide a winner.

Ultimately it was Portage Terriers’ forward, Reilly Funk who would score the shootout winner to tip the scales in Team Garbutt’s favor.

Made up entirely of players born between 2000 and 2002, teams Schwartz and Garbutt serve as an opportunity for those just beginning their junior career to make a name for themselves in front of a crowd of scouts.

North Stars’ forward, Matthias Urbanski who played on Team Schwartz last season, attested to the intensity and level of competition.

“Last year playing with the young guys, there was still a lot of skill down there,” Urbanski said. “There’s a lot of the young guys who might get overlooked or get a little bit underrated and you really get to see them stand out and showcase their skills.”

The defending-champion, Nipawin Hawks lead all SJHL clubs with four representatives on the Saskatchewan’s young gun squad, while Notre Dame and Estevan have three players apiece on the all-rookie team.  

The Battlefords North Stars, Kindersley Klippers and La Ronge Ice Wolves are the three Saskatchewan teams without a representative in the rookie game.

The second game of the day will see Team Mitchell take on Team Zajac at 2 p.m. 

The Melfort Mustangs will hold a league-best five players on Team Mitchell. Mustangs’ forward Carson Albrecht said he’s very much looking forward to having four of his six teammates alongside him at the event in Regina, on the same roster for the showcase.

“It’s definitely not nearly as nerve-racking,” Albrecht said. “It’s always tougher to play with new guys, so having my linemates here is going to make it a lot easier than new faces.”

One of those familiar faces will be Albrecht’s linemate in Melfort, Justin Ball. Both are having career years this season, sitting first and second in league scoring on the year with 71 (Ball) and 61 (Albrecht) points respectively.

Kindersley and Notre Dame have three players each, the next-highest total on Team Schwartz.  

An early-evening showdown between Team Kunitz and Team Belfour will cap off the opening day’s action.

Flin Flon holds a team-high six players on Team Kunitz, with the Battlefords and Estevan will have four representatives take the ice for the night cap.

For North Stars’ defenceman Matthew Fletcher, taking part in his first interleague showcase, the opportunity to suit up for Team Kunitz means the chance to play with some special players from around the league.

“[The] coach told me I’m playing probably with [Jake] Heerspink of Estevan,” Fletcher said. “Obviously, he’s a good hockey player for sure. He skates well, he’s the captain of that team for a reason, and he’ll be a solid D-partner if I’m playing with him so I’m looking forward to it.”

Stars’ forward MacGregor Sinclair said he didn't received notice from the coach on who his linemates might be up front, but if it were up to him, the 20-year-old said he’d look no further that his regular club team.

“I’m [on a team] with Urbanski and it would be pretty cool to get to play with him; that’d be awesome,” Sinclair said.

On Twitter: MartyMartyPxP1

SJHL wins two out of three on opening day of showcase

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