TISDALE — Kalen Ukrainetz is greatly enjoying his second season with the Tisdale Trojans.
The 16-year-old forward from Wynyard is fourth on the team in scoring, as of Sunday. Last week Ukrainetz had the game winning goals as the Trojans beat two of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s top five teams. He had a goal in a victory over Swift Current, 3-2, and a goal and two assists versus Prince Albert in a 4-2 win. The victories improved the Trojans’ record to 26-3-2-1 and catapulted them into first place in the league. Tisdale’s 55 points were one more than the Saskatoon Blazers’ 54. Those two teams were slated to meet on Wednesday at the Tisdale RECplex.
“I think the thing that I have liked the most so far [about this season] is all the new boys that I got to meet and how we have all come together in such a short amount of time,” said Ukrainetz, who billets with Leanne Kehrig. “They are all like brothers to me. And, of course, we’re winning!”
After a solid rookie season in which Ukrainetz tallied 15 goals and 28 points, he has been even better this season.
“His growth in the game of hockey has really improved in his year and a half in Tisdale,” Trojans head coach Darrell Mann said.
Through 27 games, Ukrainetz has recorded 31 points. This is already three more than last year. When asked about what has allowed him to produce points this season, Ukrainetz said:
“I think just working hard in practice and games and having a good mindset that you’re going to score always helps you out with points.”
Mann said the second-year forward is “a really skilled player. He is a guy who can score big goals at big times.” The veteran bench boss noted that Ukrainetz has develop chemistry with his frequent linemate Jayden Wiens.
This season Ukrainetz has 15 goals. That tied him with Davis Chorney for second place on the Trojans behind Trenton Curtis’ 19.
“He has such good hands and a good shot, but he is not afraid to go to the net,” Mann said.
Ukrainetz has six power-play goals. That ties him with Cade Hayes for second on the Trojans behind Curtis, who has 11. Ukrainetz has been a key part of a top power-play unit.
“I really enjoy the power play, because I’m playing with some really skilled guys and you get to be really creative,” Ukrainetz said.
Last fall Ukrainetz attended rookie camp with the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers. That team acquired his rights last season from the Everett (Wash.) Silvertips, who picked him in the ninth round of the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft. That same year Ukrainetz was tabbed 10th overall in the first round of the SJHL Draft by the Nipawin Hawks. He played a game with SJHL champion Hawks last season as an affiliated player and attended their camp last fall.
“[The camps] really make you realize how hard you have to work so that you can get to the next level,” he said. “I think that’s what I realized when I went and it helped me out a lot.”