This was a very memorable year for the Hawks, returning the league's Top Goaltender award winner, as well an elite group of veterans which was complimented by some big time leadership being added by Doug Johnson and Tyson Hobbins late in the season.
The Hawks finished that season with a record of 32-14-2-6 that season for 2nd in the North Divison, before falling to Flin Flon in a 7 game battle to open the playoffs.
Now let's look at that years roster, prepare to be impressed by the progression of this group. It speaks volumes about the coaching staff.
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#41 Davis Jones
Now in Junior season at Alaska-Fairbanks. In 10 games as a freshman, Jonesy posted a .900 save percentage along with a 3.06 GAA and a 4-5-1 record. On two occasions before Christmas in his rookie campaign, he was named WCHA Rookie of the Week. This season, Davis has started in 17 games, and sports a 9-7-1 record along with a 2.53 GAA and .896 Sv%.
#31 Jordan Liem
Jordan returned home for his 20 year old season of Junior hockey following a start to the season in Nipawin. Suiting up for the Aldergrove Kodiaks, Liemer was among the league's best with a 2.52 GAA and .915 Sv% in 24 starts. Now, Jordan is a member of the SFU Clan, where 9 starts has left him with numbers of 3.21 and .880, including a shutout in one of two wins.
#4 Ian Bablitz
Of the 5 members of the 12/13 roster still playing Junior, Bablitz is the only to have gone out of province; where he now leads the English Bay Miners of the SIJHL as a 20 year old d-man, posting 6 points in his first 6 games of the season. Things have slowed down for Babz, with just a single assist since, but his team has also slid to the bottom of the standings. It was a tough end to his rookie season with being sent to play Junior B, but persistence and a huge desire to play is why this guy is still succeeding at the top level.
#5 David Heath
Heater was part of the Carter Berg trade which sent the budding defenceman to the Melfort Mustangs, where he remains to this day. He was able to post 23 points last season, and his 9 goals was 9 better than his rookie season totals. This season with the 'Stangs, David has 6 goals and 12 points in 29 games.
One of two 'big' additions near the deadline(no pun intended), Berg brought his punishing game up the highway from Melfort to join his fiercest rival for 3 seasons(his brother too, spent 3 seasons in Melfort to be traded within the division). The former Team West U-17 member's impact was made known immediately, though the offence took time to click, as Berg finished with 3 goals and 9 points in 20 games as a Hawk. Last season, Bergy could be found playing in the Fort Carlton League for the Rosthern Wheat Kings, with identical numbers he had in Nipawin.
#6 Jeff Datoff
After suiting up with a 'C' on his chest for his final year of Junior, Dats called it a career with 82 points under his belt through 217 Junior A games. Jeff is now back home living on Vancouver Island after initially committing to play for the Marian State University Sabres.
#7 Mitch Doell
It would be easy to just copy paste Brady Zerr's write up under Doellsy, as he too was very respected and liked within the organization and community. Mitch posted similar numbers as Zerr, with just an assist fewer in a couple more games. For the following year, Doell was a key leader for the Hawks once again, posting 13 goals and 34 points in 51 games. This season, Mitch has taken his work ethic to Winkler where he suits up alongside his brother on the Royals Senior roster. With 16 points in 15 games, he currently sits 2nd in team scoring.
#8 Brady Zerr
When I did my final interview with Doug Johnson from the Whitney Forum following a playoff disappointment, Doug was very adamant in noting Brady's contributions to the Hockey club during his time in Nipawin. Due to injuries, Brady's season was cut short but his 7 goals and 7 assists in under 30 games was enough to earn him ice time in most late-game situations.
#10 Wheaton King
King has taken steps to further his education north of the border, as his NCAA eligibility was lost during his time in the WHL, though his CIS opportunities would come flowing. King was a key member of the team from the moment he arrived in late 2011 from the Kindersley Klippers, posting over a point per game in under 70 games. That trend has continued, as King currently sits 2nd in SAIT Trojans scoring with 10 goals and 15 assists.
#11 Jesse Bernard
One of the more exciting players to watch at the Cage, Jebbers moved on to his final season of Junior closer to home, suiting up with the Dauphin Kings of the MJHL. This worked out nicely, as Jesse and I reconnected at the 2014 RBC Cup in Vernon, BC where he finished 2nd in tournament scoring with 6 points. Taking 76 points in 2 SJHL seasons in to the MJHL, Jesse posted a total 67 points to show his improvement. Nowadays, Jesse is 2nd in Tiger Hills Hockey League scoring, with 54 points in just 18 games.
#12 Dexter Bricker
For the youngest on the 12/13 Hawks roster, you'd never had known it in the way Dexter carried himself on and off the ice. His toughness landed him in the WHL with stints in Regina and Lethbridge, but near the 2015 trade deadline found himself back to the Melfort Mustangs, after he became part of the David Heath trade following his lone season in Nipawin. Dex has stepped in nicely to Canada's 6th top ranked team, posting a goal and an assist through 5 games.
#13 Garrett Lockeridge
Garrett has remained with the Hawks with this season being his last SJHL campaign. With 335 career penalty minutes, Locker has remained a solid force for Doug Johnson's club posting 5 goals and 4 assists this season.
#14 Arty Kalashnikov
Despite his brother being back home in BC, the Belarus World Junior team member has settled in to University life just fine in Lethbridge(CIS), where he has a goal and 6 assists. The season ends this week for the Pronghorns, wrapping up AK47's freshman season. Last season, he played in Manitoba for the Virden Oil Capitals, notching 20 goals and 52 points in 55 games.
Returning to Nipawin from the USHL in his final season of Junior was surely a difficult decision, but look at where it has taken the 6 foot 6 inch face-off king. An NCAA Championship in his freshman season at Union, Lich also captured a National Rookie of the Month for December in his freshman season. Following a 21 point season, he attended the Anaheim Ducks rookie camp and now current has 3 goals and 5 helpers through 24 games.
#18 - now #20 Carter Coben
A big force in his rookie season, Carter has transitioned into a career Hawk, recently surpassing 30 SJHL goals over his 3 seasons. With a record low for penalty minutes, Cobes has shown in his final year he can lead on the scoreboard too with 19 goals and 31 points.
#20 Grant Jensen
There wouldn't have been many players around the league a couple years ago that would admit they weren't actually scared of Jenny. He racked up 330 career penalty minutes over just 128 SJHL games, with 18 points accumulated over the 2 and a half year stretch. He initially was set to join the Weyburn Red Wings, but was traded to the Hawks before making his debut.
#22 Ben Johnstone
Johnstone came to the Hawks from the MJHL's Virden Oil Capitals, and immediately made an impact heading toward the 2013 SJHL playoffs; posting 20 points in 27 games in Nipawin. Johnny then returned to where his Junior career started, gathering 12 goals and 29 points in 40 games for the Estevan Bruins.
After leaving the Hawks to play for the Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL late in the 12/13 season, Yan went on to attend Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, where he is now a 2nd year forward. 5 goals and 7 points in 19 freshman games was the bulk of his action as he has missed much of this season, playing just 4 games without recording a point.
#23 Ben Petros
The smartest of the crew, Ben brought patience to the defensive zone and hardly seemed to panic. You've got to feel bad for the only guy on the team that didn't score, but there's always one and that one is always complementing the team in other areas. Ben also returned for another season, but played just 13 games with a pair of assists before packing up for home in Calgary.
#24 Michael Lambert
Fans will remember Michael Lambert scoring a few big goals at the Cage, which were some of my most exciting moments behind the microphone as well. Lambert spent 3 seasons in total as a Hawk, with 12/13 being his middle season. He posted 11-13-11 points respectively but always had a knack for making the game exciting. For his 20 year old season, he and the older players on the team grew some...interestingly long hair. Lambert won a pair of team awards, but is now back home in Northern Alberta working and playing the odd game.
#26 - now #61 Carter Danczak
After coming over from his hometown Battlefords North Stars in his rookie season, Dano has already achieved a career high in goals, recently scoring the opening goal in a big divisional win over the Flin Flon Bombers. Danczak now sits at 15 goals and 28 points in 44 games, good for 5th in team points. Carter was last season's Most Gentlemanly Player for the Hawks.
#28 Jesse Roden
Jesse appeared to have a promising future as a Hawk following a 6 point rookie season, but he decided that the commitment of Junior A was not for him moving forward, as he hung up the skates. Roden was a 10th Round WHL Bantam Draft pick, which speaks for his talent and ability to move the puck quickly. Mens League is working out well though, with 38 goals in 31 games, along with 61 points for best in the league. Ummm, he's still got it!
A teammate of Jordan Liem and Yan Kalashnikov, Willy is now playing with SFU in the BCIHL. Williamson has become a dependable leader for the Clan, with 7 points in 18 games, which includes the 2nd most goals among defenceman on the team. Last season was Jesse's first, with 16 points in just 24 games setting the tone nicely for life as a student-athlete.
#47 Dustin Skilliter
Skilly went on to wear the 'C' in 2013/14, showing that his contributions to the team were continuous from his first day in black and yellow. His captain year would last just 6 games, posting a goal and an assist, before a series of events allowed for Dustin to settle in with the Fishing Lake Hockey League's Hudson Bay Hunters(home of Darren Dutchyshen). Posting 12 points in 12 games as a Hunter, it appears Dustin has taken this season off.
#51 Eric Bollefer
Perhaps one of the most under-rated d-men in the SJHL during the 2nd half of the season, Bolly returned his talent to the Hawks last season for a memorable 20 year old year, putting up a career high 17 points to cap off at 40 in his 162 game SJHL career. Eric earned a scholarship to Minot State University beginning this season, where he has enjoyed a memorable start with 5 goals and 14 points in just 26 games. The Beavers are currently 5th out of 54 teams in the ACHA.
Balog was looked to as the offensive leader for much of the 2012/13 season, as he showed on multiple occasions his ability to carry the team on his back. A tryout for the World Junior A Challenge team brought Balog's confidence up, as he cruised to a 39 point regular season. He would return to the Hawks last season, and a 49 point season was good for 2nd on the team begin just Tad Kozun. The 2nd Round WHL Bantam Draft pick was traded to Grande Prairie for his 20 year old season, but opted to stay close to home instead and is no longer playing.
#93 Tad Kozun
Following the 12/13 season, Kozun spent one last season at home before earning an NCAA scholarship to University Alaska-Anchorage, where he has had a strong start to his freshman season. With the team 4 games below .500, Kozun is currently 6th in team scoring with 4 goals and 3 helpers in 22 games. His final season in Nipawin had him lead the Hawks with 38 goals and 65 points.
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