For the second year in a row, the Saskatoon Contacts will take to the ice at the TELUS Cup.
The Contacts won their second consecutive Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League and West Region championships, and will make the trek to Sault Ste. Marie looking to improve on the bronze medal they won last year in Leduc, Alta.
“At the beginning of the year we knew what we had to do to come back to the TELUS Cup,” head coach Marc Chartier told the Kenora Daily Miner after the Contacts won the regional tournament in Kenora, Ont. “We’re back to where we want to be so hopefully we can go for the gold.”
Seven players are back from last year’s team, including starting goaltender Rylan Parenteau and forwards Vukie Mpofu and Kolten Olynek, who finished one-two in SMAAAHL scoring.
The Contacts had to settle for second place in the SMAAAHL during the regular season, finishing seven points behind first-place Prince Albert, but rolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs, sweeping Battlefords and Regina to set up a showdown with the Mintos.
The teams split the first two games, each winning on home ice, and then split Games 3 and 4, with the road team victorious in each. Playing a deciding Game 5 on the road, Saskatoon got the game-winner from Rodney Southam with just 4:17 to go in a 3-1 victory, making it back-to-back SMAAAHL titles for the Contacts.
Saskatoon opened with a 4-3 loss to the Thunder Bay Kings at the regional tournament in Kenora, but that would be the only blemish on the Contacts’ record.
Wins over the host Thistles and Winnipeg Wild gave Saskatoon first place in the preliminary round and set up a gold medal game match-up against the Kings.
There would be no repeat of the preliminary round meeting between the teams, as goals from Mpofu, Cameron Hebig and Jeremy Leclerc and 25 saves from Parenteau led the Contacts to a 3-0 win and booked their spot in Sault Ste. Marie.
“We’re going to be playing some really good teams there,” Mpofu said to the Daily Miner after the gold medal game, “so we’re just going to get ready and see if we can bring our game to another level and try and get it done.”
The Contacts are one of two teams in this year’s field, along with the defending champions from Red Deer, to have previously won Canada’s National Midget Championship. Saskatoon, led by current Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Luke Schenn, took home the 2005 national title from Gatineau, Que.
HOW THEY GOT TO SAULT STE. MARIE
Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League
Quarter-final: defeated Battlefords 3-0 (5-3, 2-1, 4-1)
Semifinal: defeated Regina 3-0 (1-0, 3-2 2OT, 2-0)
SMAAAHL championship: defeated Prince Albert 3-2 (2-4, 4-1, 4-3, 3-5, 3-1)
Preliminary round: 2-1 – 1st place (lost to Thunder Bay 4-3, defeated Kenora 3-1, defeated Winnipeg 4-1)
Championship game: defeated Thunder Bay 3-0
Record: 28-8-7-1 (2nd in SMAAAHL)
Goals For: 197 (2nd in SMAAAHL)
Goals Against: 120 (4th in SMAAAHL)
Longest Winning Streak: 9 (Jan. 29-Feb. 19)
Top 3 Scorers:
- Vukie Mpofu – 31G 40A 71P (1st in SMAAAHL)
- Kolten Olynek – 31G 38A 69P (2nd in SMAAAHL)
- Rodney Southam – 21G 32A 53P (7th in SMAAAHL)
Goals For: 46
Goals Against: 27
Top 3 Scorers:
- Vukie Mpofu – 7G 7A 14P
- Kade Kehoe – 9G 4A 13P
- Rodney Southam – 5G 8A 13P
NATIONAL MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
2012 – Saskatoon Contacts | bronze medal | 3-2-2 | 27GF 22GA
2005 – Saskatoon Contacts | gold medal | 6-0-1 | 30GF 13GA
2000 – Saskatoon Contacts | bronze medal | 2-4-1 | 28GF 28GA
1998 – Saskatoon Contacts | 4th place | 4-3-0 | 33GF 20GA
PLAYERS TO WATCH
continues to showcase excellent development … good speed … above-average intelligence in offensive situations … difficult to predict and contain … plays with an element of fire … loves to make things happen
good-sized defenceman … knows his limitations … growing offensive upside and puck abilities … good skater … strong mobility … anticipates and reads the play well … thrives in physical situations … good poise
very talented offensive player … great hands … great vision … wicked release … drives open lanes very well … always a dangerous scoring threat … anticipates plays very well … very shifty and dynamic around the puck
WHL DRAFTED PLAYERS
Evan Fiala – Spokane 2012 (1st round, 14th overall)
Tate Olson – Prince George 2012 (2nd round, 24th overall)
Kolten Olynek – Lethbridge 2011 (2nd round, 26th overall)
Terell Draude – Calgary 2012 (2nd round, 39th overall)
Rylan Parenteau – Prince Albert 2011 (3rd round, 53rd overall)
Wyatt Sloboshan – Swift Current 2012 (3rd round, 54th overall)
Cameron Hebig – Saskatoon 2012 (3rd round, 56th overall)
Branden Scheidl – Portland 2010 (4th round, 72nd overall)
Vukie Mpofu – Red Deer 2011 (4th round, 87th overall)
Ross Hnidy – Saskatoon 2011 (6th round, 115th overall)
Rodney Southam – Red Deer 2011 (6th round, 131st overall)
Jesse Shynkaruk – Kamloops 2011 (7th round, 145th overall)
Brayden Uhrich – Medicine Hat 2012 (11th round, 236th overall)