After a dismal 1-7-0-1 start, the Yorkton Harvest turned their boat around in the second half of the season, finishing in fifth spot in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League standings with a 22-14-5-3 record for 52 points.
“I’m very happy with how our season turned out,” says Harvest head coach Jeff Odgers. “After our poor start we really came together as a team. A lot of guys stepped up and learned how to play in this league.”
Odgers believes there isn’t a black-and-white equation to layout the difference between the Harvest team that struggled out of the gate and the club that finished their season with a 12-1-3-1 record in their last 17 contests.
“There are a lot of different things that played into our turnaround,” the head coach says. “At the start of the year, we had six defenceman that haven’t played in the league before, so they were adjusting to everything. Our older guys started to do more for us as the season went on. And I started giving our power play more freedom in how they would set plays up.”
Back-to-back games in Swift Current
Yorkton wrapped up their regular-season with a pair of road wins against the Swift Current Legionnaires on February 23 and 24.
Despite a late third period push from the Legionnaires, the Harvest pulled away with 8-6 win in their first game on Saturday in the Credit Union Iplex.
“We had some mistakes near the end there, but overall I thought we played a good game,” says Odgers. “It was a strong team effort. We had all of our lines contribute.”
The two clubs exchanged goals in the opening period with Logan Herchak and Chase McKersie scoring for Yorkton and Blake Fournier and Dylan Lamontagne for Swift Current.
The Harvest bested their opponents in the second frame. They overshadowed Austin Larochelle’s lone Legionnaires’ goal of the period by scoring three from Dakota Odgers, Eric Meyer, and Lynden Pastachak.
Yorkton and Swift Current traded three markers apiece in the final period. Korwin Shewchuk, Herchak, and Kholton Shewchuk lit the lamp for the Harvest and Devin Deck potted two and Evan Patrick buried one for the Legionnaires.
Swift Current Broncos prospect Dakota Odgers led the Harvest to a 7-3 win over the Legionnaires the following night with four helpers.
“He had a good night,” says the head coach on his son. “He made some nice plays and finished out the year on a strong performance. It was especially nice to see him play good in Swift with him being a Broncos draft pick.”
Yorkton came out flying right off the hop, scoring three goals in the first 10 minutes from Donavon Lumb, Pastachak, and Levi Morin.
The Legionnaires narrowed the Harvest’s lead down to 4-3 heading into the final 20 minutes. But the second period hiccup didn’t knock the wind out of Yorkton as Lumb, Logan Korakochuk, and Logan Leslie netted one apiece to close out the win.
Carson Bogdan turned away 31 of 34 shots in the victory after Spencer Bomboir stopped 28 of 34 shots the night before.
Even though the Harvest’s spot in the standings was set in stone prior to their last regular-season game of the year, the coaching staff didn’t sit any of their star players.
“We played everyone,” says Odgers. “Our third and fourth lines got more ice time, though. We played all of our lines evenly. So some guys got power-play time that weren’t use to it.”
Up against Regina
The Harvest square off against the fourth-place Regina Pat Canadians in their best-of-five first-round matchup. The first game of the series in on Friday, March 1 in Regina, followed by game two in Yorkton at 6 p.m. in the Farrell Agencies Arena.
All of the Harvest’s four games against the Pat Canadians have gone into overtime this year. Regina took two of them in extra time with the other pair ending in draws.
Having given up late third period goals in three of their four contests against the Queen City Kids, Yorkton knows they can’t take their foot off the gas petal in the final frame.
“We were up with not much time left in three of our games, and they stormed back, so that is something we are working on,” says Odgers. “We need to play good defensive hockey in the last period and make smart plays with the puck.”
Harvest regular-season stat leaders
Points: Lynden Pastachak, 58.
Goals: Lynden Pastachak, 22.
Assists: Dakota Odgers, 35.
Rookie points: Logan Herchak, 38.
Penalty minutes: Corwin Stevely, 93.
Save percentage: Carson Bogdan, .900.
Goals against average: Carson Bogdan, 3.02.