It took until the final game of the regular season, but the Yorkton Terriers secured the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Sherwood Conference pennant with a 4-2 win over Battlefords Sunday.
The win gave the Terriers a season record of 36-14-1-3 for 76-points, one better than Melville with 75.
Notre Dame finished third, Kindersley is next at 47, followed by Estevan with 44, and Weyburn who will miss the playoffs with 35.
“It feels amazing every time you win one of these,” said team Captain Devon McMullen of the pennant.
Terrier head coach Trent Cassan was glad the team persevered to take the pennant.
“Certainly I’m proud of the guys,” he said, adding even after three losses the coaching staff trusted the team to get the job done.
Sunday night Kyle Hall gave the Stars a 1-0 lead at the Farrell Agencies Arena when he clicked on the power play at the 16-minute mark of the opening frame.
Jeremy Johnson tied the game in the second, and Devon McMullen made it 2-1 for the home team 3:11 later.
Braeden Johnson responded for Battlefords 1:22 later to knot the score 2-2.
Kailum Gervais would score what would prove the game-winner for the Terriers, a powerplay marker at 18:59 of the second.
Tayler Thompson would add an empty netter in the third to round out the win.
Dawson MacAuley had the win in the Terrier net facing 23-shots.
Casey Parker suffered the loss in the Stars net facing 30-shots.
McMullen said the Stars did not make clinching top spot easy.
“They are good team that didn’t quit,” he said, noting they certainly had a good first period. “… They came hard at us.”
McMullen said after the first Cassan kept things simple during intermission, reminding the team they had gone into the game knowing Battlefords would work hard, and they simply had to match that.
Cassan said he liked the way the Terriers handled the game.
“I thought it was a real solid effort from the guys,” he said.
Cassan tipped his hat to the Stars who played a strong road game, even as it was their third game in three nights, and had no bearing on how they would finish in the North Division.
“They played very hard,” he said.
As for his breakaway goal, McMullen admitted “it’s something I don’t usually do.”
The veteran blueliner said the puck came open.
“There was nobody around so I took it,” he said, adding going in alone he sort of went on hockey instinct, shooting for the spot the goaltender had left him.
“I don’t get too many of those (breakaways),” he said with a smile.
Cassan said McMullen had a physical game, landing some good checks and taking a couple too.
“He plays with so much heart,” said the Terrier coach, adding it was great to see his captain get a key goal since he contributes every night but doesn’t get into the scoring summary often.
Friday the Terriers were in Melfort, dropping a 5-1 game to the Mustangs.
Tayler Thompson scored 1:12 into the game to give the Terriers an early lead.
Brandon Sloan tied the game for Melfort before the first period was over.
In the second Brady Goebel and Brandon Formosa scored to give the Mustangs a 3-1 lead.
Sloan and Formosa would score again in the third to complete the 5-1 lead.
Dawson MacAuley faced 31-shots in taking the loss in the Terrier net, while Jesse Wilkins faced 24 in the win for Melfort.
The Terriers will now await the winner of the Sherwood Survivor Series between Kindersley and Estevan, taking on the winner in a best-of-seven semi final.
Melville and Notre Dame will meet in the other semi final series.
Cassan said Sunday the Terriers would take a couple of days off, then start preparing for the playoffs.
Without knowing who they will face preparation will be a bit harder.
Cassan said they will watch film on both teams, but concentrate a lot of their practice time “on having our guys prepared to play our style of game.”