The Yorkton Terriers opened the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League regular season Friday with a home ice win over Weyburn.
Kale Thomson faced 32-shots, allowing only one, as the Terriers outscored the Red Wings 3-1 at the Farrell Agencies Arena.
Tayler Thompson, Daylan Gatzke and Jeremy Johnson scored for the Terriers, while Ryan Whitell had the lone Red Wing goal.
Terrier head coach Trent Cassan said he liked what he saw the first game out-of-the-gate.
“I thought it was a pretty solid effort right from start to finish,” he said, adding he liked how everyone put forth a good effort.
“I really thought our guys picked each other up,” he said.
Given players are still adjusting to linemates and systems Cassan said all four lines rolled pretty smoothly in the game. Thomson was steady in net and that helped too, noted Cassan.
“I thought both goalies played very well tonight,” he said. “Kale as usual was calm and composed in net.”
Cassan said while Thomson “certainly made some big saves,” his strong positional play often means sensational saves are not required because he is in the right place to make a solid stop.
Devon McMullen is the Terriers new Captain. He said he expects the team to be solid all season, not just in the home opener. The veteran defenceman said he is liking the make-up of this season’s Terriers.
“We have two lines that would be a first line on any team in the league,” he said, adding “our third and fourth line guys work their asses off.”
On the blue line, the Terriers also have a good core of veterans, said McMullen, who noted the last couple of seasons the team has been among the stingiest teams in the Sherwood Conference in terms of allowing goals against. He expects that to continue.
“Our forwards are coming back and the D-men know how to play their positions,” he said. As for being chosen captain McMullen said there were several veterans on the team to consider, including a couple of returning assistants including himself.
“They picked me,” he said. “It’s a big honour to have the Captain’s ‘C’.”
McMullen said he doesn’t see the title as adding pressure, but it does bring with it “more responsibility, both on and off the ice.”
In terms of providing leadership, McMullen said he expects it will be more by example than cheerleader.
“I don’t get too crazy in the room,” he said, adding he will speak up if the situation warrants. That said he noted he hopes “to lead by example on the ice.”
In the days prior to the regular season, the Terriers got one more player back after a Western Hockey League try out as John Odgers returned to the fold.
Cassan said while they want to see players moving up to the WHL “succeed” Odgers will also “obviously be a very big addition to our team …
“He plays with an edge and goes to those hard areas of the ice.”
Getting Odgers back, and earlier Kailum Gervais who was first star Friday, has helped the Terriers address an off season goal.
“One of the things we kind of talked about in the off season is to have a couple of bigger bodies up front,” said Cassan.
The Terrier coach noted size is important, but it is not the only asset a player needs.
“They have to be able to skate too, and make plays with the puck,” he said, adding players like Gervais and Odgers provide the whole package.
With players returning, and new faces still vying for spots the Terriers remain with 28 players in the city, and Cassan said the numbers are likely to stay high at least in the immediate future. With only two more games in September, Cassan said getting everyone into game situations to evaluate them outside of a practice situation will take some time.
The Terriers did try to make one trade moving veteran RW Jamie Vlanich to Nipawin for a list-player. However, Vlanich chose to return to BC to play Junior ‘B’, said Cassan.