The Yorkton Terriers made it six straight wins this week, and remained entrenched atop the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Sherwood Conference.
The Terriers sport a 33-12-1-2 record for 69 points, seven better than Melville.
The Millionaires are followed by Notre Dame with 54 points, Estevan and Kindersley are tied with 37, with Weyburn in the basement with 31.
The most recent win in the streak came Saturday evening as the Terriers blitzed Weyburn 7-2 at the Farrell Agencies Arena.
The score was tied 1-1 after 20-minutes, Ryan Ostertag scoring for the Wings and Jeremy Johnson netting one for the Terriers.
Yorkton added a pair in the second with Nathan Murray and Jeremy Johnson notching goals.
In the third Adam Pulliam popped one for Weyburn, as the Terriers piled on four more of their own. Johnson completed his hat trick, with singles by Tyler Giebel, Patrick Martens and Kailum Gervais.
Nate Ferris took the loss in the Winds net facing 37 shots.
Dawson MacAuley faced 21 shots in earning the win in the Terrier nets.
Johnson said his hat trick was one where he was in the right place as his teammates helped set him up.
“The first one they left me alone on the sideboard,” he said, allowing him to go toward the net and find a hole.
On the second he “rapped it high” on a nice move predicated by speed.
And then there was the final goal of the trio.
“The third one I didn’t know went in until the light went on,” said Johnson.
Terrier head coach Trent Cassan said Johnson has the ability to take over games offensively.
“He has a lot of speed,” said Cassan, he uses that speed in combination with his “desire to get right to the net … and challenge the goaltender.”
MacAuley said his recent stellar play, allowing only four goals against in five games, comes from settling down and concentrating on the game at hand.
The young netminder, who admitted sometimes faltering after a good start, suggested “maybe I was putting too much pressure on myself.”
So he re-focused suggesting he no longer dwells on past performance, or worries about what tomorrow might bring.
By applying focus to the game he is playing he has found his zone. The change has MacAuley winning games.
MacAuley, 18, was recently named SJHL Goaltender of the Week winning both of his starts by shutout last week. He made 30-saves against the Melfort Mustangs and then blocked 21 the next night facing the Kindersley Klippers. He’s 10-and-5 overall with a 2.28-GAA (third in the league) and a .916-SPCT.
The netminder was also presented Terrier of the Month honours for January.
Friday Notre Dame was in the city where the Terriers took a 1-0 lead through the opening frame, on a goal by Tyler Giebel.
The teams traded two goals apiece in the second, Blaine Thomson and Brandon Millin scoring for the Hounds, with Curtis Oliver and Brenden Poncelet notching Terrier goals.
Giebel added a powerplay goal 29-seconds into the third for Yorkton to complete a 4-2 Terrier win. MacAuley had the win in the Terrier net facing 33-shots, while Michael Salmon faced 29 shots in the Hounds’ loss.
The shut-out string is something MacAuley said was “something I’ve never been able to accomplish before.”
But when the streak ended Friday night it was not a moment of devastation for MacAuley who said he knew it had to end at some point.
“I didn’t even see that one,” he said of the shot that went through a bunch of traffic. “It was a tough shot for me, and I think it was tipped too, but that didn’t matter, I didn’t see it anyway.”
The Hounds would quickly strike again, but then the Terriers went down the ice to pop one to re-capture the lead.
“I definitely needed that. They definitely helped me out there,” offered MacAuley.
Cassan said in the two weekend games MacAuley obviously continued his strong play in net. He said in both games the opponents had some good scoring chances early, but his netminder was there.
“He made some big saves early,” he said. “He’s had a real good, solid streak of games.”
So what has been the difference for MacAuley in the mind of his coach?
“He’s making himself big,” said Cassan, adding as a coach he “… challenged him a little bit,” and MacAuley has responded.
And with some good games came confidence.
Cassan said once a player finds confidence it can carry them “a long way.”
Besides the wins themselves, the two games had a major positive for Cassan and that was an offence that reignited after a couple of one-goal efforts. He said in particular he liked that “the power play was effective.”
Weyburn shut out
Last Wednesday (Jan. 30) the Terriers were in Weyburn and MacAuley was again sharp stopping all 26 shots he faced.
Patrick Martens scored twice for the Terriers, with Tayler Thompson and Jeremy Johnson adding singles for the 4-0 win.
Jean-Philippe Boucher took the loss in the Weyburn net facing 26-shots and allowing all four goals before being lifted after two periods.
The Terriers were scheduled to play in Estevan last night (Tuesday), but results were not available at press time.
Their next action will be a week from tonight (Wednesday, Feb 13) when the Notre Dame Hounds are back at the Farrell Agencies Arena.