The Yorkton Terriers and Estevan Bruins have split the first two games in their best of seven Sherwood Conference Semi final.
Each team won on home ice over the weekend in Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League action.
Game 1 of the series went Friday at the Farrell Agencies Arena in Yorkton.
Joshua Ellis gave Yorkton an early lead with a goal 3:38 into the game.
Patrick Martens made it 2-0 57-seconds later.
Dylan Smith replied for the Bruins later in the first, but the Terriers took a 3-1 lead to the dressing room after 20-minutes of play thanks to a late goal by Kailum Gervais.
Ellis and Martens were both back to add second period markers, and Curtis Oliver scored in the third to complete a 6-1 Terrier win.
Dawson MacAuley faced only 15 shots in the Terrier net for the win, while Curtis Martinu faced 38 in the loss for Estevan.
Ellis, who joined the Terriers at the trade deadline, said getting the first goal, and two on the night was big for him.
“It was really fun out there,” he said, adding the Terriers played with a lot of energy.
Getting off to the early lead was something Ellis termed “huge” for the team. “It boosted everybody’s confidence.”
Ellis said the team was aware they needed a solid start coming off a near two-week break from the last game of the regular season.
“It was definitely a concern for everybody,” he said, adding it was something the team prepared for through practices.
Head coach Trent Cassan said the Terriers “worked very hard the last 8-10 days.” The coach said it was good to see the team stay as focused as they were through preparation, and then to carry that into the series’ opener.
It helped that the Terriers rolled four lines, keeping everyone involved in the game.
“Nobody was sitting on the bench for too long,” said Ellis, adding it kept everyone “fresh.”
Cassan said Ellis obviously had a strong game, adding that even centering the third or fourth line he showed good awareness of what was happening on the ice.
And the goals came as a result of knowing where to be and what to do, said Cassan, who noted they felt Ellis could contribute when they picked him out of Junior ‘B’ in British Columbia.
Cassan was also happy with a solid night by MacAuley. While not facing a lot of shots he said the Terrier netminder had a couple of big saves in the first period as the Bruins tried to assert themselves.
Overall, Cassan said the Terriers played the sort of game you want in a series opener. He said he liked that the Bruins “were not able to take too many positives out of the game.”
It was a different script for Game 2 Saturday in the Bruins’ home barn.
Calder Neufeld struck only 15-seconds into the game to put the host Bruins up 1-0.
The lead would hold until the 18:59 mark when Gervais knotted the score.
Estevan would take control in the second as Alex Cote scored to give the Bruins its second lead of the game.
Smith would add a power-play goal at 14:35, then 13-seconds later Tanner Froese popped another goal with the man advantage to make it 4-1.
Devon McMullen gave the Terriers hope with a marker 2:03 into the third, but Smith would respond with the Bruins’ third power-play goal of the game at 4:02 to finish off a 5-2 Estevan victory.
MacAuley took the loss facing 21 shots, while Martinu had the win in net facing 27.
Cassan was not impressed by the turn around in fortunes.
“It was just a totally different team from our end that showed up, or didn’t show up,” he said.
And the trouble started early.
“It was a really disappointing first period for us,” he said,
While admitting the Bruins played a stronger game, Cassan was most focused on how much of a letdown the Terriers had coming off their 6-1 win.
Asked if the lopsided win had the Terriers feeling complacent Cassan was quick to say “they really shouldn’t be at this time of year.” He added “we haven’t been that strong on the road all year,” so they should not have taken the Bruins lightly.
Particularly disheartening for Cassan was that the letdown came from several veteran players.
“A number of guys saw … very little ice late in the game,” he said, adding it was sending a message they need to step up their game.
As it is key goals so far are coming from younger sources, Gervais 17 and Ellis 18.
While saying it is good to see younger players stepping up, they need the veterans to be more of a force the rest of the series.
Game 3 of the series was scheduled for the Farrell Agencies Arena last night (Tuesday) but results were not available at press time.
Game 4 goes tomorrow (Thursday) in Estevan.
Yorkton hosts Game 5 Saturday.
Game 6, if necessary goes Sunday in Estevan, with Game 7, again if needed in Yorkton next Tuesday (Feb. 19).