Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Halfway Report: Melville Millionaires

The Mils have been a tough team to figure out, and it's got Coach/GM Jamie Fiesel pulling (what's left of!) his hair out. At times this season they looked almost every bit as good as the team that went to the league final a year ago (beating Weyburn/Flin Flon in back to back nights), but had enough valleys that Coach Feez hasn't been hiding the fact they'll try to get younger and build for the future down the stretch, while still trying to be competitive this season. Everyone has to deal with injuries, but it seems the Mils have got hit harder than most through the first half. Aaron Decorby's out long-term, so is D Jordan Reeve. Brayden Metz hasn't been 100% since coming back from the WHL, and the likes of Cody Hanson, Dane Bonish and Austin Krahenbil have all missed significant time this season.

(My opinion only)

Most Valuable Player
Austin Krahenbil, Defense

In 10 games without Krahenbil this season, the Millionaires are 2-6-2. With him they're 11-and-9. He adds so much to the backend, especially the powerplay when he's in the lineup. 6'3", 218 lbs., can skate, fire the puck, hit, fight. In my opinion he's top-5 in the league for defenseman.

Runners Up: Aaron Decorby, Logan Herauf

Most Improved Player
Justin Hollinger, Defense

Hollinger's played some forward and defense this season, and regardless of where he's playing, it seems he's always a threat to score. After spending time with Fort Knox in the PJHL last season, the 19 year old from Neudorf is a no-doubt full-timer this season, racking up close to a point-per-game.

Runner Up: Matt Kinnunen

Most Pleasant Surprise
Michael Desjarlais, Forward

I usually give this award to rookies, and that's the case again here. Desjarlais had 20 points for Lloydminster in the Alberta "AAA" Midget League last season, and has bettered those numbers in the first half of his rookie season in the SJ.

Desjarlais started the season centring Logan Herauf and Aaron Decorby, and proved he's capable of playing on the top line. The Mils are looking forward to a couple more solid seasons out of #8 after this one.

Runners Up: Justin Hollinger, Zach Rakochy

What to Expect?
I have no idea! Even with everyone healthy, Melville's been Jekyll & Hyde for much of the season. And what Fiesel does in the next month, before January 10th, will go a long way in determining how the Mils will fare down the stretch. As of now, 20 year olds D Kirk Mastad (Swan Valley, MJHL) and G Brady Wilyman (Trenton, OJHL) are the only two vets to be shipped out. Are forwards Matt Kinnunen and Michael Jordan also on the block? How 'bout local products like Aaron Decorby and Tyson Melnychuk? Decorby's out, until, likely about Jan/10, but was one of the league's top goal scorers when he broke his collar bone. Jordan Reeve's in a similar situation, another 20 year old out for a while, but expected to return late in the regular season. 16 year old Zach Rakochy's been given the reigns in goal at this point, and how his game develops with the added responsibilty could also tell the tale for the Mils. I don't see the Millionaires earning a top-3 spot this season. Infact after watching Notre Dame a couple times in the last week, I don't think they're falling out of the mix anytime soon, Weyburn's finishing first barring a collapse, and I've been impressed with Kindersley so far too. Still hoping at least one of Yorkton or Melville can sneak in. Side note: Is a fourth straight Mils vs Terriers playoff series out of the question? This time a Best-of-Five in the Survivor Series. Again, let's hope at least one of them avoids the extra round and gets that bye, AND, we can't forget about Estevan, who's lurking in that 6th spot still, and it looks like Devin Mitzner is infact showing up, so look out.

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