Friday, August 31, 2012

Day One of Hawks Camp Recap:

Well Day 1 is in the books at Nipawin Hawks training camp, and according to coaches Tyson Hobbins and Doug Johnson, the pace has been everything they've hoped for.

I had a chat with both coaches, first interviews of the year in person. Folks, I think what we have here, is a damn good team.

There was 9 '96s in the game, they all played well and I felt they all played with the intensity it will take to one day play at this level. Doug expects a couple more back throughout the weekend who are currently with WHL squads.

Here's some of the players I liked the most.

Reegan Santoro made 4 or 5 huge saves in the first period of the game. The last time I got to see a goalie stand on his head like that was... um... That answers it. This kid played for the Beardy's Blackhawks last year and he looks like he's ready to make the jump to Junior A. He was drafted by Chilliwack(now Victoria) in '09.

Justin Waskewitch seems to be the best skater on the ice. He can use his speed whenever he wants and he is smart with the puck and uses his speed up the boards, through the legs, where ever he wants. Made a few beauty blind passes but seemed as though they were well practiced. Makes the battles down deep look easy.

Levi Clark is a '94 born forward from Unity and despite playing small town hockey, you can tell this kid wants to play at this level. While his natural talent is there, it seems a little undeveloped but I can only hope Coach Johnson gives him a chance in exhibition.

Patrick O'Neill played Midget AAA in Edmonton last year and looks ready to succeed at the Junior A level. Scored a goal on a laser of a shot to tie the scrimmage up. Great skater that looks like he will get better every single day; very hard worker.

Davis Jones is well, Davis Jones. Shuttin' the door and closin' those legs. Team Green really liked to try to beat Jones in the five hole but they didn't succeed too much. He was rock solid despite allowing 

Wheaton King will be a force to be reckoned with this year. He is strong on his feet and can use bursts of speed to make it up and over the line while leaving defenders behind him. Great stick work in the slot to direct puck in front of the net.

David Heath has been around the MJHL and now he's landed in Nipawin and fans will be in for a treat. Good, hard, crisp passer who can skate if he needs to. Liked that he was always thinking where his team mates were and never made the selfish play. One of the smoother backwards skaters I have seen, much like ex-Flin Flon Bomber Tyler Mah.

Reed Whitrow displayed excellent defensive ability and the smarts to be a Junior Hockey player. As a '95 he is one of the better younger players and he has the potential to be a high calibre player if he can work on his speed with the puck. His defensive strength was using his large frame in front of the net and clearing bodies. He also did a great job of getting a breakout going and getting his team deep in the offensive zone.

Tad Kozun came ready to play today. He also looked like he came to have some fun. Not many guys can move at that speed with the puck and still have a smile on their face. Created several chances and even got robbed on a penalty shot. Great speed through neutral zone, likes to cross through center dot. Can be a risky play but he is heads up all the way. 

Jesse Roden has hair that will remind you of a bleached Jaromir Jagr and he plays nothing like him. But boy is he smart with the puck. Takes it to the right places, stays in smart positioning as a D man. Smart coverage in neutral zone, and always ready for the pass. 

Hawks Camp Update(Game 1):

Training Camp is officially underway for Nipawin Hawks, and the first scrimmage was a hard fought one between Team Black and Team White(No, I'm not color blind). The final score was 6-6. I only managed to be mentally focused for the

While I don't have a list with stats, I will point out a few players I have been impressed with so far.

-Michael Lambert was buzzing for the final 30 minutes of the game that I managed to catch. Every time he got the puck he made it get to the net. He tied the game up in the final minutes with a nifty wraparound, one that reminded me of a young Dustin Scafe.. Except he scored.

-Carter Coben looked like he was really getting the feel of the Junior A game, and boy he was doing it well. I see why the Vancouver Giants took him 219th overall in the Bantam Draft back in 2009. Played Midget in Saskatoon last year, but was wearing a visor, looks like he's earned it.

-Mitch Doell was working hard in the corners and did what he had to do defensively to get the puck deep and create offense. The returning vet will be relied on to play a big role this year, I would be lying if I said he isn't capable of a point per game at this level.

-Ryan Ostertag had the puck going his way today. He kept it on his stick easily and looked to be almost holding himself back a little. Smart with the puck, good active stick. Expect a big year from this guy. It'll be his 3rd season in the SJHL, but 1st full season as a Hawk.

 Game 2 is just about to get underway between Team Green and Team Gold, I'll post a more in depth look after that game, as I will have a better chance to watch. Follow me on twitter to keep up to date by the minute @dustinscafe

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mustangs Primed For Camp:

 With the season just 3 weeks away, the Melfort Mustangs are taking their first step towards building a competitive team starting this weekend as Training Camp gets underway at the Palace.

"It's going to be pretty interesting. It's been a long off season, everyone is pretty excited to get going."

Those were the words of Head Coach Gavin Holcomb, who is heading in to his second season as bench boss for the 'Stangs.

Last season, the Mustangs struggled in more than one area, winning just 13 games and scoring a league low 120 goals. The team also had just 3 skaters with 10 or more goals.

This season; a year older and a year stronger, the Mustangs already look to have improved immensly.

"We're just excited to see how the guys from last year return, especially our 19 years olds this year who were 18 last year. They came in a little blind last year and know what to expect now this season." Holcomb added.

While the team allowed the second-highest amount of goals, goaltender Jesse Wilkins gave them a chance to stay in games night in and night out, finishing the year with a .900 save percentage while allowing nearly 40 shots per game.

Training camp will run all weekend long, with exhibition beginnning next Friday with a home date against the Battlefords North Stars. The following night will see the 'Stangs travel to Battlefords.

The 2012/2013 regular season will begin on September 21st with the Home Opener against the Flin Flon Bombers. The next night the two teams will head to Flin Flon for the second game of the home-and-home.

Both games will start at 7:30. The home opener can be seen on the Mustangs Broadcast Network while Saturday nights affair can be heard live on CJVR with the pre-game show beginning at 7:15. I'll have the call, and it can also be heard on

Hawks Harvest: The Nipawin Hawks season ticket drive continues today and tomorrow with a special offer. If you purchase your tickets before Sunday, you will receive tickets to all 4 home exhibition games, beginning with the Monday night matchup with the Flin Flon Bombers. Visit the Hawks office between 12-4 for more information.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nipawin Hawks Training Camp

As per Branden's Blog @

Friday August 31

12:30 – 1:45  White & Black Practice
2:00 – 3:15 Green & Gold Practice
5:15 – 7:00 White vs Black Scrimmage
7:15 – 9:00 Green vs Gold Scrimmage

Saturday September 1

10:00 – 11:45   White vs Green Scrimmage
12:00 – 1:45   Black vs Gold Scrimmage
5:00 – 6:45  White vs Green Scrimmage
7:00 – 8:45  Black vs Gold Scrimmage

Sunday September 2 

9:30 – 11:15  White vs Gold Scrimmage
11:30 – 1:15  Black vs Green Scrimmage
7:30 Intra-Squad Game

** Intra-squad game is $5.00 to get in. All other scrimmages are open to the public and free of charge.

Exhibition for the Hawks will begin on Labor Day Monday against the Flin Flon Bombers. The exhibition schedule is as follows:

Monday, Sept. 3 Flin Flon @ Nipawin
Wednesday, Sept. 5 Nipawin @ OCN (MJHL)
**Friday, Sept. 7 Nipawin @ La Ronge
*Saturday, Sept. 8 Nipawin @ OCN
*Sunday, Sept. 9 Nipawin @ Flin Flin

**- game may be broadcast via uStream.
*- game will be broadcast via uStream STAY TUNED FOR INFORMATION.

Mustangs Minute: 
'Stangs camp also begins Friday. There will be scrimmages down at the Palace all weekend and we'd love to see you out! Branden and I will be wearing the stripes on Saturday, giving you all the more reason to come down and enjoy some Hockey! The team got together tonight for the first time tonight at the ball diamonds to have some fun and grow their bonds together. Regular season opens up September 21st with the Home Opener against Flin Flon. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

SJHL World Junior A Challenge ID Camp:

This is on the SJHL website:

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has announced it will conduct a two-day identification camp for prospects, aimed at allowing scouts an opportunity to see the best young talent the league has to offer in regards for potential participation in the World Junior “A” Challenge.

The special showcase takes place October 1st and 2nd at the Elgar Petersen Arena in Humboldt.

The camp will feature, predominantly, players born in 1994 and 1995; but will also have a select group o 1993 born athletes as well.

Its expected scouts from the NHL, WHL, and NCAA will be on hand to witness some of the top young talent in the country.

“This is a great opportunity for the top young players in our league to go up against similar players of the same age and it’s hoped will provide an easier gauge for evaluators to see how each player has progressed throughout the early part of the season,” said SJHL President Bill Chow.

Teams are, likely, contributing one defenseman and two forwards each and that player pool will be divided up into two teams that will practice Monday, October 1st in the afternoon and then play a head to head game at 7pm.  The two teams will then practice again on Tuesday, October 2nd and play a game at 12:30pm.

The World Junior “A” Challenge will take place in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia November 5-11.

Canada West has won the gold medal three of the six years the
tournament has been in existence, finishing as a runner-up on two other occasions.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hobbins Excited To Be A Hawk Once Again:

Nipawin, Saskatchewan/SJHL

As the season draws near, the Nipawin Hawks are starting to buckle down the latches for a hopeful ride to the RBC Cup.

After being raised in Nipawin and earning a NCAA Div. 1 scholarship as a Hawk, Tyson Hobbins is joining the team as an Assistant Coach this season. Tyson is excited to be behind the bench with Head Coach Doug Johnson and long time Hawk coach Darren Opp.

“Getting the chance to come back to coach the Hawks was a pretty big deal for me and my family. We’re all very excited, and if I could choose anywhere to coach this would be my first option.” Hobbins stated during an interview.

Hobbins also displayed a desire to learn from current head coach Doug Johnson.
"I'm just going to try and learn as much as I can, I know he's a good coach. I'm just going to try and soak everything in and build from him.

After 4 years at Lake Superior State and part of one season in the ECHL, Hobbins will make his coaching debut when the Hawks open the exhibition season on September 3rd in Flin Flon.  The team will play 8 exhibition games before the real battle begins.

The Regular Season will open September 21st when the Hawks travel to La Ronge to play the Ice Wolves. That game will be heard live on CJVR beginning at 7:15 with the pregame show.

The Hawks home opener will be the following night, September 22nd against the Ice Wolves. They host Estevan and Weyburn the following weekend with both games starting at 7:30 PM.

The Hawks will then hit the road on October 4th when they visit Melville, and October 5th in Yorkton. CJVR and CK750 will broadcast all road games for the Hawks this season.

If you plan on attending several games this season at the Cage, the Hawks hope that you will consider purchasing season tickets, which will save you huge money at the booth. If interested, call the team office at (306)862-2748 between the hours of 12:00 and 4:00 Tuesday to Friday.

You can also visit the office in the Botterill Building in downtown Nipawin to get tickets for all home games throughout the 2012/2013 season, their hours are Tuesday to Friday 12:00 to 4:00.

Notes From Dustin: 

Because Branden Crowe ( and I are splitting the play by play duties this season, we will both be covering the same teams equally. Because of this, not all my blog posts are going to be about Nipawin, and his will not always be about Melfort either. We promise to bring a great balance of both teams all season long. 

From this post on, I'll be adding in to every story a 'Mustang Minute' or a 'Hawks Harvest' at the end. These will be short news bits that won't take more then 30 seconds to read but will give fans from both ends something to be interested in.

If you have any ideas you'd like to share, feel free to email me

Mustangs Minute: 
I had a walk around the Northern Lights Palace this week and I'm very impressed with the building. Melfort is very lucky to have this building, so we better pack it this season. Head Coach Gavin Holcomb is really looking forward to getting the ball rolling on his second season as the head guy for the Mustangs. The ice is going in this week and camp opens up August 31st. Get your season tickets by calling (306) 752-2799!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mustangs Seek Billet Homes:

Training Camp is nearing for the Melfort Mustangs and they are currently seeking billet families for players in the 2012/2013 season.

As well as allowing an SJHL player to call your home their own for the season, billet families will also recieve financial aid and access to tickets for all Mustang home games this season.

Short term billet homes are also needed throughout Training Camp.

If you are interested in helping out the Mustangs, contact the Team Office at 306-752-2799. You can also contact Billet Coordinator Char Argent at 306-921-9533. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Jim Hughson Inducted To BC Hall of Fame:

This is an article that was done by my good friend Sean Assor for Energetic, Fort St John's hub for News, Sports, and Everything FSJ! 

"Growing up in Fort St. John, watching the Fort St. John Flyers, those were my heroes and that’s what developed a love of the game for me." The words of Canadian broadcasting icon Jim Hughson and Fort St. John native, who on Friday, July 27, received high praise for his years of service in the industry by being inducted into the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play announcer was on a short list of high profile names to be inducted at the South Okanagan Events Centre, receiving the honour with NHL players Scott Niedermayer and Rob Brind’Amour, as well as Scott Carter and Dr. Bob Hindmarch.
Hughson, who entered the broadcasting industry years ago in Fort St. John, said it was special to share the event with two of B.C.’s premier hockey players, as throughout his NHL broadcasting career he had the opportunity to watch, and call, the growth and development of two very different, but very skilled NHL players who are both Stanley Cup champions.

He also said it spoke tremendously about the grass root hockey organizations within B.C., saying that despite a lack of British Columbians in the NHL in the early 60’s and 70’s, times have changed, and there is currently a long list of British Columbians playing the highest level of hockey, and there will be tremendously long list of B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame inductees in the future.

Hughson was given the privilege of making a speech during his induction ceremony, where he focused on his childhood and his years of living within the Peace Region and how that developed into a successful career.

"For me it was mostly about growing up. I wanted people to understand while I spent the last 30 years in the industry and broadcasting games at the NHL level and all around North America, that was simply opportunity, and it was an opportunity that arose because of a passion I had for the game. That passion was created in Fort St. John, watching the Flyers, going to the games or listening to them on the radio."

Hughson, who worked for CKNL radio part-time during his high school years, says his entry into the professional broadcasting world was another moment of opportunity. After returning to Fort St. John following university, he worked full time at the Fort St. John station, where its play-by-play announcer had moved on to a station in Edmonton.

"I was the guy who was left at the radio station who knew a puck from a football, so I got to be the sports guy. The first broadcast that I ever did was the Fort St. John Flyers versus the Dawson Creek Canucks from the Dawson Creek Arena. I just thought, 'wow, this could be fun', and it grew from there. It was an opportunity and I seized it."

Fast forward to 2012, and that part-time radio announcer has cemented his name as one of the most acclaimed broadcasters Canada has produced; an honour he felt was special as he got to share it with a variety of people he admires.

"One thing about being in the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame was that the room was full of people that I know from the hockey industry, and I respect and enjoy. That to me is as much of a highlight as any single individual event."

The event was also significant as Hughson got to share it with his family.

"I was very honoured and very humbled, but what struck me was how much it meant to the people around me, I didn’t realize it was going to be such a big deal until all my family found out about it. They were all very proud and supportive and we turned it into a real family event. So that made it even more special."

Passion is always important when considering a career, and Hughson says that passion, more than anything, is something he took with him when he ventured out of the Energetic City to further his broadcasting career.

"You know you grow up in a small town where everyone looked after everyone else, where there was a real sense of community, and again for me in my profession, it was my real love of hockey and a real passion for the game. That’s what I left Fort St. John with and it put me in good stead as I moved along."

When asked what advice he could offer to an up and coming broadcaster, Hughson responded with a few simple words, "know the game and love the game."

Loving what you do seems to be a motto for Hughson, something the Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer says is fundamental to his success.

"I’ve had a chance to broadcast the last game of the Stanley Cup finals, World Junior Championships, gold medal games in sports, and they’re all terrific, but I think the highlight of the whole thing is to be able to have a job and a profession in a sport that you absolutely have a passion and love for. I’ve been blessed in that I have been able to spend my life working in the toy department."

Hughson can be seen and heard on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts, which take place every Saturday evening throughout the NHL season.