Record: 13-14-0-2 (5th in Sherwood)
On Pace: 26-28-4 (.483%)
A tough start for the Melville Millionaires is the main reason why they're not in the neighbourhood of 3rd place in the Sherwood. That said, they're not far away. The Mils hit the halfway point of the season after a pair of losses (one in a shootout) at the Showcase. The Mils lost their first 3 games of the season, and 5 of their first 6, and has since shown flashes of a top-end team. The question appears to be what team will show up the rest of the way. Jamie Fiesel knew he'd have a smaller and younger team than usual, so he didn't hit any panic buttons during the slow start, and the Mils' 1992 born players have experienced situations they likely wouldn't on most other SJHL teams, because of their youthful roster. If you look up and down the SJ, I don't think another there's another club whose '92s are as strong as the Mils 18-year-olds, so if they stay the course they should be knocking on the door of a Conference title next year, with a real shot of doing serious damage two years from now. With a young team, the Mils' veteran players have been their best players, led up front by Brayden Metz and Cody Hanson.
What to Expect?
That's a tough one. The Mils feel a they're a top-three team in the South, and I think they can be. But that would mean BOTH Weyburn and Kindersley (and/or Estevan) would have to slip to the 4-5 positions. I can't see 2 of those teams doing the Mils favours and taking a nose dive, so for the Mils to avoid the Survivor Series, they'll have to earn every point, and probably play .600% hockey the rest of the way. For them, it's going to come down to goaltending. 19 year old Alex Sirard came in from Battleford, where he was the North Stars' third stringer, and has impressed in his first two appearances with a win and a shootout loss, and a nice .933 save%. I don't think he's taken the #1 role from Zach Rakochy based on two games, and I think we'll see a lot from both, until when/if one takes it over. I would say the Mils are better than the team that started 1-and-5, but likely won't keep the same pace that saw them go 10-and-4 leading up to the Showcase. Operation #1 is to get some distance between themselves and the Notre Dame Hounds (and they host them tonight), and then zero in on going from 4-5 to the top three. I think they could use one more veteran forward to round out their top six, and if they are able to add at the deadline, while keeping their youth, 3rd spot is attainable, but even going .500 down the stretch will leave them stuck in a second straight Survivor Round, and they might even have to start on the road, in this year's tight Sherwood Conference.
Most Valuable Player
Brayden Metz, F
Not only is Metz leading the Mils in most offensive categories, including running away with the team scoring race (41 pts in 28 games), he's also skating just as hard, or harder when coming back into his own end, something the coaching staff expected when they put the 'C' on his jersey. He's playing great hockey in both ends of the rink, and seems to have a new gear to his game this year. Metz is the 8th highest scoring player in the SJHL right now, but is tops in the entire Sherwood Conference, behind 3 from La Ronge, 2 from Humboldt and 2 from Battleford. He's also played fewer games than most guys he's chasing. Plus, with instant chemistry with Lucas Froese, don't be shocked if Metz ends up Top-5 in the league.
Runners-Up: Lucas Froese, F; Cody Hanson, F
Most Improved Player
Cody Hanson, F
12 goals last year, a team-leading 16 through half his 20-year-old season, Hanson's on pace to score 30+ goals. Like Metz, he's also getting it done in the 'D' zone, and is one of their top penalty killers, and his team-high 4 short-handed goals is second in the league behind Yorkton's Robbie Ciolfi (5). Hanson started the season on a line with Metz, but they've been split up, which gives the Mils more depth and secondary scoring.
Runners-Up: Mark Owen, F; Tyson Newell, D
Roger Tagoona, F
As mentioned above, the Mils have a strong group of 92's and 93's, but the Rankin Inlet, Nunavut product has likely been the cream of the crop of their rookie class. It also hasn't hurt that he's spent a lot of time of the Mils' top line with Metz and Froese of late, and he's shown he can keep up. He's on pace to push for 40 points, which doesn't happen for many rookies in the SJHL. Also, I'm not counting Froese as a rookie, after spending time in the WHL, and part of last season with the MJHL's Winnipeg Saints, incase you're wondering!
Runners-Up: Jordan Paddock, F; Godric Tham, F
Dane Bonish/Michael Rogoschewsky, F
After wrestling between these two for about 30 seconds, I'll just go with both. Bonish and Rogy are both 20 year olds, and are both key pieces to the Mils' depth chart up front, despite not racking up a tonne of points. Bonish is on the Mils' first PK unit with Hanson, and also has one SHG on the season, and has to be one of Melville's leaders, if not leading, in blocked shots. He's also picked up his offensive play of late, centring (arguably) their second line between Hanson and Ian McNulty. Rogoschewsky, meanwhile, has played mostly fourth line minutes, and as far as I can tell, hasn't complained. Right now he's helping a couple rookies on that unit, and still manages to bury when he gets chances, and is often the guy who jumps up on one of the top lines if there's an injury