Currently in the midst of a three-day break, the SJHL champion Melfort Mustangs are 2-0 at the Centennial Cup in Oakville, Ontario. They picked up their first win with a 4-1 result in last Thursday's opener against the Miramichi Timberwolves, and then won a back-and-forth matchup with the Winkler Flyers on Saturday morning 6-5 in a shootout.

WestCentralOnline has kept a close eye on the Junior "A" national championship. Kerrobert's Austin Shepherd is a local connection on the ice, but another west-central connection to Melfort is behind the Mustangs bench in assistant coach Tye Scherger.

Catching up with the Macklin native Scherger following team breakfast on Monday, the former player (and current Macklin Mohawk) shared how he got into coaching.

"Last year the assistant coach retired, so my head coach when I played Trevor Blevins gave me a call," shared Scherger. "He asked how school was going, I said I passed my first year, and he said, "do you want a coaching job instead?" 

Scherger graciously accepted, eager to get back to the game he loves. That decision paid off quickly with his first year on the staff resulting in an SJHL championship.  

Shepherd Scherger Cup.jpg Shepherd and Scherger posing with the Canterra Seeds Cup (Photo courtesy Marli Shepherd)

The championship secured Melfort a spot as one of the nine Hockey Canada champions at the Centennial Cup, joining the host Oakville Blades. The young coach gave some thoughts on the tournament prior to getting back into action on Tuesday.

"Been awesome so far. Great hosts, great community." he said, afterwards sharing his thoughts on the team's good start. "So far it has been good. We are 2-0. Playing good, playing to our identity in the SJ. We got two more games left." Scherger said, the Mustangs currently looking at a berth in the playoff round.

Pictured above with his fellow west-central native Shepherd, the assistant coach talked about what the former West Central Wheat King provides to the Mustangs lineup.

"Austin is a great player. Especially it being his first year... he's not putting up a lot of points, but that doesn't mean anything." Scherger boasted about the player from back home. "Bringing 100 per cent effort every night. He's a team first guy, and such a character guy that plays with lots of heart. One of those players you love, because he works so hard every time."

Speaking of the former West Central Wheat King, Shepherd will actually be lining up against another former Wheatie (and AAA teammate) on Tuesday, Macklin native Kaden Veller with the Sioux Lookout Bombers. While he didn't have a scouting report, Scherger does have a pretty close connection to Veller.

"We play them next, he's my neighbour back at home actually," said Scherger. "Never really played against him or anything like that cause he is younger than me, but we see each other lots in the summer as neighbours." he finished, looking forward to seeing his fellow Macklinite hit the ice tomorrow.

Macklin will no doubt be keeping a close eye on the final week of the Centennial Cup. Scherger talked about the support coming from the hometown faithful.

"The biggest thing about Macklin as a community, everyone has your back, everyone supports you no matter what. It's a great hockey town, brought up a lot of good hockey players and athletes," he said. "Texting us, wishing us all the best. It's awesome."

The Mustangs will have one final day of rest before Tuesday's game against the Bombers, that opening a back-to-back as Melfort will take on the host Oakville Blades on the final day of the preliminary round. After an off day Thursday, the quarter-finals will get underway on Friday at 2:00 PM Saskatchewan time.