The bantam AA Terriers finished in fourth spot in the South Division of the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League with a13-10-4 record after splitting their last two games of the regular-season.
Taking into account Yorkton is the youngest team in the league, head coach Damon Kustra is happy with his club’s season.
“I’m happy with our year with us being the youngest team in the league,” he said. “We had a rough 1-4 start, but we battled back after that and really got going.”
In their second last regular-season game of the year on Thursday, Feb. 14, the Terriers looked for redemption against the Melville Millionaires after falling to them 4-3 the week before.
Despite having home-ice advantage the second time around, Yorkton couldn’t best Melville, dropping the contest 4-1.
The Millionaires pulled out in front in the opening 20 minutes with Taylor Elmy scoring the lone goal of the period.
The two rival clubs exchanged markers in the second period. Elmy notched his second of the night at the 18:37 mark, followed by power-forward Brett Melnychuk potting the Terriers’ first in the final three minutes.
Connor Baber and Dawson Davidson closed out the Millionaires’ win by netting one apiece in the final period.
Kustra hoped the loss would be a wakeup call for his club with the post-season on their doorstep.
“It was a disappointing loss,” he said. “They are below us in the standings and they just beat us the week before. I hoped the guys would see they need to improve on some things after the loss because we can’t afford games like that in the playoffs.”
The bantam hockey club didn’t take their coach’s message lightly as they came out flying in their next match against the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox on Sunday, Feb. 17. The combination of their strong effort and an inexperienced goaltender in the opposing net paved the way for their 13-0 shellacking.
“Their No. 1 goaltender was called up by their AAA midget team, so they had a young guy (Seth Hanna) in net,” said Kustra. “We took advantage of their goaltending situation. But we also played really hard.”
Logan Foster, McKenzie Welke, Kylan Shea, and Brennan Watson found the back of the net for the Terriers in the opening period, giving them a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Terriers continued to poor it on in the second period. The twenty minutes of action saw Welke score two, Foster net his second of the contest, and Jonah Sutter, JJ Fofonoff, and Brayden Miller tally one apiece to wrap up the six-goal period.
After no one scored in the first 10 minutes of the final period, Yorkton added three more goals for good measure from Welke, Foster, and Jake Kustra.
There was no shortage of Terriers padding their stats in the match. Welke led the way, potting four goals and two assists. Watson came in second, tallying one goal and four helpers. Foster scored a hat trick and Kustra potted one and added two assists for three-point nights. Shea, Miller, Mason Plews, and Josh Rohatynsky had two-points apiece. Not to mention, puck-stopper Braidon Berezowski grabbed a 16-save shutout.
“A lot of the guys really stepped up,” said Kustra. “I also think some guys scored more than usual because I gave my strong power-play unit more time to get them ready for the playoffs.”
The Terriers will square off against the fifth-place Regina Silver Foxes in their first-round playoff matchup. The first game of the series is in Yorkton on Thursday, Feb 21.
The writing is on the wall for a close series between the two squads.
“It should be a hard fought series,” said Kustra. “We went 1-1-1- against them this year. Our games always seem to be tight ones. We are going to have to be at our best to beat them.”
Yorkton knows shutting down Silver Foxes forward Caleb Griffin, who finished second in the league in points with 62 in 26 games, is vital to their hopeful post-season success.
“We have to contain him,” said Kustra. “He’s a very talented player that can really hurt teams.”