With two wins in three tries over the past week the Yorkton Terriers are back on top in the Viterra Division of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
The Terriers sit with a record of 14-10-1 for 29 points, two points better than Estevan with 27. Melville and Weyburn sit deadlocked for third with 20 points apiece.
Terrier head coach Mat Hehr said it’s great to be back in first.
“Our goal is definitely to stay in first in our division,” he said.
But Hehr also has his sights set on a better record in terms of the overall league. At present the Terriers would slot in ninth overall in the SJHL.
“We want to climb in the overall standings, to keep on rising,” he said, adding how a team finishes overall can determine home ice come the later rounds of the playoffs.
The Yorkton Terriers hosted Humboldt Saturday in a game that also featured the team’s Teddy Bear Toss which provides toys to the Salvation Army for distribution at Christmas.
The bears were to rain down on the ice as soon as the Terriers scored their first goal, and it took only four-minutes for Aiden Bulych to start the storm, scoring the lone goal of the first period on the powerplay.
Branden Klatt and Bulych with his second powerplay marker of the night would extend the lead to 3-0 in the second period, before Drew Warkentine broke the ice for Humboldt.
Cody Bruchkowski would get that one back for Yorkton on the powerplay at 18:46 of the second, sending the Terriers to the dressing room after two periods up 4-1.
Warkentine would cut into the Terrier lead with his second of the contest at 16:35 of the third, but Colby Brandt would get that one back scoring an empty-net effort for the Terriers at 17:22.
The Broncos would add a final goal on the powerplay with only one second left on the clock to round out a 5-3 contest in favour of the Terriers.
Ryan Ouellette had the win in net for Yorkton facing 40-shots, while Dane Dow took the loss for Humboldt facing 37.
Hehr said the Terriers had a good game against the Broncos, especially in terms of defence allowing only one goal until late in the contest against a team that is leading the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division of the SJHL.
The Terrier coach said Ouellette “had a great game,” but added the entire team committed to defence against the Broncos. “Everybody was blocking shots,” he said.
The commitment to defence has been a key for the Terriers of late.
“At the start of the year we were sacrificing some defence trying to create offence,” he said, but the focus now is more on preventing goals and letting the goal scoring come from that.
“The last month we’ve been pretty successful with sticking to defence first,” he said.
There was no breaking the Mustangs Friday as the Terriers were given a rough ride at the Northern Lights Palace in Melfort.
The home team struck early with Justin Ball scoring 4:51 into the contest, with Parker Fofonoff adding a second goal in the frame to give the Mustangs a 2-0 lead through 20-minutes of play.
Branden Klatt cut the lead in half for the Terriers 1:13 into the second period, but the Mustang offence would then take over the frame.
Tanner Zentner scored for Melfort on the powerplay at 4:27 to restore a two-goal lead, and then Justin Ball and Carson Albrecht extended their lead to 5-1.
Braeden Young extended the lead to 6-1 in the third before Klatt added a second goal for Yorkton with an unassisted marker at 18:47 to round out the 6-2 final.
Ben Laidlaw was tagged with the loss in the Yorkton net facing 39 shots, while Shawn Parkinson had the win for the Mustangs facing 25.
Big win Tuesday
It was a game pitting the top two teams in the Viterra Division against each other as the Terriers hosted Estevan at the Farrell Agencies Arena last Tuesday.
It was a case of the Terriers striking early and often on home ice.
It took only 54-seconds for Chantz Petruic to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead, and Colby Brandt made it 2-0 at 2:25.
The teams would then trade goals through the rest of the first period.
Kolton Leslie put the Bruins on the board at the 10-minute mark, only to have Jared Legien reply for Yorkton.
Johnny Witzke would add a Bruin marker, only to have Cole Keenleyside respond for the Terriers.
Yorkton would go to the dressing room up 4-2 after 20-minutes of play.
In the second it would be something of a Bruin goal sandwich as Bryce Platt would score two Estevan goals on the powerplayer, markers sandwiched between Terrier efforts from Cody Bruchkowski and Aiden Bulych.
The third would be all Terriers as Dino Antoniadis and Keenleyside scored. The Keenleyside marker was a short-handed effort into an empty net to round out an 8-4 Terrier win.
Ryan Ouellette took the win in the Yorkton net facing 33-shots, while Jake Anthony started for the Bruins, but was replaced after the opening period by Grant Boldt who officially took the loss.
“To get that win was massive. It felt like a playoff game,” said Hehr. “The guys were really up for it.”
The Terriers head back to Melfort Friday for another tilt with the Mustangs, then swing into Humboldt to play the Broncos Sunday.