The Yorkton Harvest’s season ended on Saturday, March 9 at the hands of the Regina Pat Canadians in the deciding game of their first-round post-season series. It was a tough pill to swallow, but the midget AAA hockey club went out with their heads held high.
“We have a lot to be proud of with our strong second half of the season,” said Harvest head coach Jeff Odgers on his club’s 12-1-3-1 record in their last 17 regular-season games. “You know, we played a very good team in the Pat Canadians in the playoffs and took the series to the limit. The guys left everything out there. They gave it their all.”
On paper and on the ice, this has been the strongest Harvest club in the past five years, if not longer. The players undoubtedly deserve their share of the credit, but so do Odgers and assistant coach Dan Cross. After their dismal 1-7-0-1 start, they stuck to the game plan and guided this squad to an outstanding second half.
Final playoff games
With the series tied at one apiece, a strong third period helped lift the Pat Canadians over the Harvest in a 5-2 game three victory.
The two squads headed into the final frame tied at two with Chase McKersie and Ethan Bear scoring for Yorkton and Tristan Frei netting two for Regina.
But the Pat Canadians dominated the scoreboard in the final 20 minutes. Kamloops Blazers prospect Mitch Lipon notched the first of the period at the 9:32 mark, followed by Zachary Zborosky potting one with just over two minutes left in the game. Carter Folk went on to score an empty netter with a dollar left on the clock.
“They outshot us in that final period (15-8) and made their opportunities count,” said Odgers. “That goal with only a couple minutes left in the game was a big one and we weren’t able to come back from it.”
Two days later, the Harvest came out on top in extra time at the Farrell Agencies Arena to take the contest 2-1.
Regina’s Tristan Frei and Yorkton’s Dakota Odgers exchanged goals throughout the first forty minutes.
Jaden Kreklewich played hero in overtime, scoring on Yorkton’s third shot of the period.
“Our bench erupted and we were all happy when Jaden scored,” said Odgers.
In do-or-die game five, Logan Flodell stood on his head in the blue paint to lead the Pat Canadians to a 2-1 win.
Mitch Lipon gave Regina a quick lead by scoring just 35 seconds into the match.
Tristan Frei scored his fifth goal in as many games in the second frame to give the Pat Canadians a cushion heading into the final period.
Turner Ottenbreit finally got the Harvest on the board just over two minutes into the third period. But it wasn’t enough as Flodell shut the door for the rest of the game, turning away 16 of Yorkton’s 17 third period shots.
“Flodell was just in the zone,” said Odgers. “His .961 save percentage says it all. It’s hard to beat a team with a goalie that is that hot.”
Despite being overshadowed by Flodell, Carson Bogdan stood tall throughout the series for the Harvest, maintaining a 2.39 average and .915 save percentage throughout five games.
“Bogdan has been one of our best players all year,” said Odgers on the 16 year old. “He has done everything we’ve asked of him. And he finished the year with a strong post-season.”
There are a handful of players on this Harvest team that seem to have bright junior hockey futures. But three players in particular – Ethan Bear, Dakota Odgers, and Lynden Pastachak – shine the brightest with Western Hockey League careers in their grasp.
“Talking with Seattle Thunderbird scouts, they think Ethan Bear is ready right now,” said Odgers. “He came in as a rookie this year and was one of the top defenders in the league. He actually finished second in points (35 in 38 games) among defencemen. I think he’s ready for the next step.”
“The Swift Current Broncos just called up Odgers, so he’ll get a chance to play some games with them. He has shown a lot of improvements in his game this year, getting some big minutes in AAA. He’ll still have to make the team next year, but with his improvements, I think he should be in Swift Current next year.”
“(Red Deer Rebels prospect) Lynden Pastachak has been great for us all year. He blocks shots, kills penalties, scores goals – pretty much does it all. I think he has a great shot of playing in Red Deer next year.”
As for Odgers, he’s not quite sure whether he will return behind the bench next year with his son poised to play for the Broncos.
“I’m not sure yet what I’ll do,” said the head coach. “But I’m going to make my decision shortly so the organization doesn’t have to wait that long to see what I’m doing.”