Ahead of a two-game road trip against the fearsome Humboldt Broncos this weekend, the Bombers - along with most of the league - made some roster tweaks.
The Bombers’ roster shrunk by one last week, with the team trading forward Nathan Flodell to the MJHL’s Portage Terriers. In return, the team received a player development fee. In four games this season with the Bombers, the 18-year-old Prince Albert native scored one goal. The Bombers’ roster is down to 26 players - 15 forwards, eight defencemen and two goalies, as well as Jordan Pfoh, who has played as both a forward and defenceman this season.
According to the SJHL website and an announcement by the Terriers, the Bombers also acquired forward Max Henderson in the Flodell deal. However, Henderson is not listed as part of the Bombers' roster as of Nov. 26 and has not reported to the team.
The deal was one of a flurry of SJHL trades reported in recent days, including several deals involving Sherwood division teams. All four teams made trades of some variety within the past two weeks.
Melfort made arguably the biggest splash of the bunch, acquiring not one, but two other SJHL teams' captains. First, the Mustangs picked up Kindersley Klippers captain Mark Snarr and a 5th round pick in this year's SJHL bantam draft for prospect forward Karson Blanchette and 2002-born defender Brayden Koch. Hours later, the Mustangs announced the pick-up of La Ronge captain Nolan Doell, who made his way south for 2003-born defenceman Liam McInnis, 2003-born forward Tye Evans and a player development fee.
Snarr, a 2001-born defenceman from Calgary, has nine points in 24 games so far this season, while Doell, a 2001-born forward from Martensville, had 26 points in 25 games pre-trade with La Ronge, leading them in scoring.
The Nipawin Hawks came to the Whitney Forum this week sporting a familiar face for Bomber fans in their lineup. The Hawks swung a trade Nov. 22 to acquire former Bomber defenceman Jack Michell from Kindersley, picking him up along with a 3rd round bantam draft pick, a player development fee and the SJHL rights to WHL goalie Carter Serhyenko. In return, Kindersley picked up 2002-born defenceman Josh Morton and a 4th round pick.
Michell was traded to the Klippers before the aboard 2020-21 season as a future consideration in the deal that netted the Bombers defenceman Dane Hirst. In 24 games this year, the 20-year-old Saskatoon native has seven points, all assists. Michell was in the lineup for the Hawks' Nov. 23 game in Flin Flon. The Hawks also acquired forward Ethan Tinevez from the Portage Terriers for cash.
The Ice Wolves also dealt away forward Andrew Blocker to Kindersley, receiving cash in return.
Other deals around the SJHL saw Melville deal away two of their top 2001-born players, forward Nic Porterfield and defender Jackson Bohan, to the AJHL's Whitecourt Wolverines. In return, the Mils got two 2003-born players, American defender Breckin DenHartog and forward Ryan Duguay. Both Bohan and Porterfield had nine points with Melville this season. Melville also traded defender Bryce Kilbourne, who the Mils had previously acquired from Whitecourt, to the MJHL's Steinbach Pistons for cash.
This weekend will see the Bombers head to Humboldt for a pair of games on the road against the SJHL's top-ranked Broncos. The Broncos boast the SJHL's top offence, with three players with over 30 points. Connor McGrath sits second in league scoring with 35 points, leading all rookies, and teammates Alec Saretzky, Logan Kurki and Matt Perkins are all in the top 10 of league scoring.
The Broncos also boast one of the league's top goalies in Rayce Ramsay. No goalie in the league has played more than Ramsay this season, playing almost four-and-a-half more hours than the second-most active goalie. In that time, Ramsay has played 23 games, won 19 of them (including one by shutout) and had a .927 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against-average.
Flin Flon doesn't have top-tier scorers like the Broncos. Only two Bombers now sit in the SJHL’s top 20 scorers, both near the bottom of that list - those would be Zak Smith, who now leads the Bombers with 22 points in 19 games, and rookie Jeremi Tremblay, who has 22 points in 23 games. Despite that, the Bombers have a strong hold on the top defensive scorers list, with Xavier Lapointe’s 21 points and Cole Vardy’s 18 points leading all SJHL defencemen and Reece Richmond sitting in the top 10 with 13 points scored.
One of the few goalies in the SJHL whose play has been comparable to Ramsay happens to be Flin Flon's Cal Schell, who has played fewer games but has a 12-4 record, four shutout wins and a .936 save percentage (tops in the league) and a 2.06 goals-against-average (second-best in the league).
Top-line Bomber forward Jaeden Mercier is slated to make his return from injury in early December. The Saskatoon-born forward, who has 16 points in 14 games this year, was hurt earlier this year in a game against Estevan, played back in late October. Mackenzie Carson, who had been nursing a hand injury since training camp, made his season debut Nov. 23 and will likely play against Humboldt this weekend. Defenders Cory King and Noah Kuntz will likely remain on the sidelines.