HUMBOLDT, MELFORT — The Trinity Western University men’s hockey team will have a definite Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League flavour in its first U Sports season.
The Langley, B.C. school squad recently announced the signings of Melfort Mustang Adam Nobes and the Humboldt Broncos duo of Jarrett Penner and Luke Spadafora. All three are forwards. The team has also added former Melville Millionaires goaltender Berk Berkeliev. After a recent dominant stretch in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League, the Spartans are moving to U Sports, the highest level of Canadian university athletics, and the Canada West conference. The team was to debut in U Sports this winter but that was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the season.
“They are a very well-respected school and offer a great education,” Penner said of TWU. “They are a team just moving into the U Sports and Canada West so I feel I will be getting a great opportunity to prove myself and to contribute right away.”
The recent signings continue TWU’s tradition of bringing in SJHL talent. When the Spartans repeated as BCIHL champs in 2019 (the last time a league awarded a championship), their roster included ex-SJHL players such as Humboldt product and ex-Bronco Jarrett Fontaine (a two-time BCIHL Playoff MVP), Melfort’s Logan Casavant – who played for both the Mustangs and Nipawin Hawks, and former Broncos Jordan Bogress and Dylan Sakatch.
Penner is pleased to be going to TWU with players he already knows. The Spartans have also signed Saskatoon forward Michael Spafford, who was an affiliated player for La Ronge before taking his game to the Alberta Junior Hockey League and south of the border.
“It’s great to have Luke commit there as well,” Penner said. “He’s a great player and a great guy to be around and my childhood best friend from Saskatoon (Spafford) also just committed there to play so we are super excited to play on the same team again.”
Nobes knows TWU well. The North Vancouver product was a student there in 2018-2019 when he was playing Junior A and Junior B hockey in the area. In a statement on the school’s website, he said he “appreciated the strong community spirit, small class sizes, inspiring professors and renowned athletic program.”
In 2019-2020, Nobes played a handful of games for the B.C. Hockey League’s Langley Rivermen before posting 28 points, with eight goals, for the Mustangs in 45 games. He had three assists in five games this season in Melfort.
"Adam is a player who has earned the trust of his coaches and teammates in Melfort through his hard work and willingness to continually improve,” TWU head coach Barret Kropf said on the team’s website. “You can see that each year, where his journey through junior hockey has been a steady climb in both his stats and leadership abilities.”
Saskatoon’s Penner played two SJHL seasons for the Wilcox-based Noter Dame Hounds. In six games this season with the Broncos, he had a goal and seven points. At TWU, Penner plans to study business administration. He is interested in finance but also is considering pursuing a career as a police officer."We feel Jarrett is a solid leader on and off the ice who will improve our squad,” Kropf said. “He has been a leader wherever he has played, and his hockey sense is really strong. Having him sign with us … is a big piece of our program as we move into U Sports next season." Calgary’s Spadafora started his SJHL career with the Broncos in 2018-2019. Partway through that season he was swapped to Melville where he won the SJHL Rookie of the Year award. During the next season, he was traded back to Humboldt. Spadafora had three goals and eight points in six games this campaign. "He has produced offensively at every level over the years and we know he can do the same at
the university level,” Kropf said. “He is another great SJHL graduate, something we place a high level of confidence in, and know that having spent time under Coach (Scott) Barney, he will be well prepared to make the jump and contribute right away."
Other post-secondary commitments from the three local SJHL teams include:
Humboldt: Doug Scott - Rochester Institute of Technology (NCAA Div I); Karter McNarland - University of Vermont (NCAA Div I)
Melfort: Colton Schell – Portage College (ACAC), Gabe Odowichuk – Concordia University of Edmonton (ACAC) Nipawin: Ross Hawryluk - Western Michigan University (NCAA Div I)
Nipawin: Ross Hawryluk - Western Michigan University (NCAA Div I)