The Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings will be back in action tonight, as they open a home-and-home series with the Melville Millionaires at Crescent Point Place. The game has a lot on the line, with the Millionaires four points back of the Wings in the standings.
“This is a massive weekend,” said Red Wings head coach Cody Mapes after practice Thursday. “We could end up tied or end up by eight points. It’s probably the biggest weekend of the year so far.”
This will be the first meeting between the Viterra Division rivals since October. The two teams played a home and home on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd, with Melville winning the game in Melville 6-1, while Weyburn notched a 7-5 victory in the return leg the following night.
There have been quite a few changes on both teams since that weekend. For the Millionaires, they are now without their top two scorers, with Noah Wills and Zach Cain being traded at the January roster deadline just over a week ago. Melville did add Jaxon Martens to the team in a deal with the Flin Flon Bombers, and he has scored two goals in three games with his new club.
The Red Wings have made a few changes as well, with the addition of Ryley Morgan, who has put up 13 points in his 11 games with the Red Wings. Also joining the team since that home and home with the Mills in October has been blueliner Jordan Edwards, goaltender Matt Schoephoerster and forwards Carter Briltz and Matteo Turrin.
Briltz was picked up by the Red Wings, again, on January 10th, when his SJHL rights were re-acquired from the La Ronge Ice Wolves. He joined the team shortly after that, having started out the year with the Victoria Royals of the WHL. Briltz played his first game last Saturday against the Yorkton Terriers and had his first full week of practice with the team this past week.
“I think we’ve had a great week of preparation,” Briltz said. “I think we’re ready to go here for Melville.”
The Red Wings will be coming into the game with a record of 3-2 in 2023. The losses came against the Notre Dame Hounds and the Battlefords North Stars, with wins picked up over the Estevan Bruins (twice) and the Yorkton Terriers. A key to the success for the Wings since the Christmas break has been the play of Jakob Kalin. The forward has scored 5 goals and added two assists in the five games since the return, only being held off the scoresheet once.
The combination of Ty Mason and Morgan has also been strong since the return, notching six and five points respectively in the five games back from the holidays.
With the season getting ready to head into the final stretch, the Red Wings will be looking to make up as much ground as possible. They head into the games this weekend one point back of the Notre Dame Hounds for the 8th and final playoff spot and are two points up on the Yorkton Terriers and the Millionaires. A pair of wins over the Millionaires this weekend could change the whole dynamic of the standings from 6th through to 11th in the SJHL.
The puck drops on the game tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Crescent Point Place. It will be followed up with the return leg being played in Melville tomorrow night. You will be able to listen live to that game on Red Wing Radio, BIG 106, starting with the pregame show at 6:45 p.m.