After the Yorkton Harvest bested the Regina Pat Canadians on the road in the first game of their best-of-five playoff series, the Queen City Kids returned the favour the following match in the Farrell Agencies Arena.
“They’re a good team,” said Harvest head coach Jeff Odgers. “We knew it would be a close series. We would have liked to win the first two, but at least our win and their win cancel each other out.”
Carson Bogdan stopped 39 of 41 shots to lead the Harvest to a 4-2 win over the Pat Canadians in the first game of the first-round playoff series.
“He has played good,” Odgers added on Bogdan. “In the third period, we were shorthanded for a lot of it and he came up with some unbelievable saves. They had 21 shots that third period and he shut the door for us. He was a difference-maker.”
Jaden Kreklewich and Chase McKersie potted one apiece in the opening frame to give Yorkton a quick 2-0 lead.
“That two-goal lead gave us momentum and we kept it rolling,” said Odgers.
The Harvest and Pat Canadians exchanged goals in the second period with Eric Meyer scoring for Yorkton and Dylan Frey notching one in the final minute for Regina.
After Tristan Frei put the Pat Canadians within one roughly six minutes into the third period, Brandon Kayter stepped up for the Harvest, netting a shorthanded goal to close out the win.
The marker was special for Kayter as he was only able to muster one throughout 40 regular-season games.
“We had a conversation before the playoffs started in our individual meetings that the slate is wiped clean for everyone,” said Odgers. “It’s the playoff, a new season, and he was able to get a goal. He had a good game for us. It was nice to see him score.”
Yorkton couldn’t buy a goal in their second match, losing 3-0 to the Queen City Kids.
From start to finish, it seemed the Pat Canadians simply wanted it more.
“They (the Pat Canadians) were definitely the harder working team,” said Odgers. “They also got a break early. Getting that first goal of the game gave them momentum. But all night they played hard. They finished every check and won the battles along the wall.”
“It was frustrating,” added Harvest forward Koal Roberts. “We really wanted to go up 2-0.”
Zachary Zborosky gave Regina a 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes.
Following a scoreless second period, Moose Jaw Warriors prospect Jayden Halbgewachs scored the final goal of the contest for Regina.
Logan Flodell in between the pipes with a 30-save shutout and Sam Ruopp on the back end shinned in the Pat Canadians’ strong defensive play.
“They had great goaltending and good defensive plays,” said Odgers. “It is tough around the net with Ruopp there and they got some key saves.”
Kayter’s hustle and Bogdan’s 30 saves of 33 shots stood out as bright spots in the loss.
“Tonight (Sunday) I thought he was one of our better forwards again. He was using his speed, skating, and doing all of the things we wanted him to,” said Odgers on Kayter.
“It (the loss) definitely wasn’t his fault in this game (No. 2). You have to score at least one goal to win a hockey game and we didn’t do that. Carson Bogdan has done everything we have asked of him.”
Heading into game three on Tuesday in Regina, the Harvest head coach knows outworking 6-foot-2, 170-pound defenceman Sam Ruopp, who is a Prince George Cougars prospect, is vital to ending their scoring drought.
“Sam Ruopp is a great player,” said Odgers. “We have to make sure we have good positioning on him. Every time we can finish the hit on him, we have to do it.”
Game four of the series is in Yorkton in the Farrell Agencies Arena on Thursday, March 7 at 8 p.m.
Other SMAAAHL playoff updates: The Prince Albert Mintos are up 2-0 over the Notre Dame Argos. The Saskatoon Contacts have a 2-0 series lead over the Battlefords Blazers. The Moose Jaw Generals and Saskatoon Blazers’ series is tied 1-1.