After the bantam AA Terriers swept the Regina Silver Foxes in round one, the Regina Pat Blues returned the favour in the second round of the post-season.
Losing out is never a fun feeling, but falling to as strong of a team as the 22-4-1 Pat Blues made the pill a little easier to swallow for the Terriers.
“They lost four games all year, so it’s not like we lost to a team that everyone expected us to beat,” said Terriers head coach Damon Kustra. “We wanted to win and thought we could, but our effort wasn’t good enough and the bounces just weren’t there. You have to give credit to them, too. They played hard and finished their chances.”
Taking into account the Terriers are one of the youngest teams in the league, a 13-10-4 regular-season finish and a playoff series win should undoubtedly be considered a successful season.
“Looking back at where some of the guys were at the start of the year and seeing where they are now, I think we had a good year,” said Kustra. “We took some big strides over the year and the kids learned a lot. And it was nice to win a playoff series. It showed how much we improved our level of compete.”
Pat Blues series
The Terriers blew a two-goal lead in game one of the series on Thursday, March 7 in Regina, going on to lose 8-3.
“We were up by two, but then our goalie (Braidon Berezowski) was snowed,” said Kustra. “We thought it was an obvious call, but they didn’t call it. I think that rattled our goalie and I got a little mad, too. Then their power play scored some goals and the game got away from us.”
Down by a goal to start the second, the Terriers couldn’t regain control of the game. After Riley Woods for Regina and JJ Fofonoff for Yorkton exchanged goals, Keelan Saworski and Bryce Platt gave the Pat Blues a three-goal lead.
The Queen City Kids’ JC Dubecky and Turner Ripplinger closed out the final frame with one apiece.
In game two on Saturday, March 9 in the Farrell Agencies Arena, the Pat Blues duplicated their score from game one with an 8-3 victory.
Regina poured on five goals in the opening 20 minutes, ultimately putting the game out of reach.
“They made the most of their chances and scored some nice goals,” said Kustra. “When you’re up against a team as good as the Pat Blues, it’s almost impossible to come back from a five-goal deficit. That period kind of sealed our fate.”
Following a scoreless second period, the Terriers and Pat Blues traded three goals apiece in the final frame. Leading goal-scorer Brennan Watson, Tyler Stratechuk, and McKenzie Welke scored for Yorkton; Woods, Keelan Saworski, and Eric Arsenault potted markers for Regina.
A large sum of the Terriers is moving on to the minor midget level next year. But next season still seems to be full of potential with high-end scorers such as Mckenzie Welke, Carson Welke, and Logan Foster set to return.
“A lot of guys are moving on, but I think they will be alright next year,” said Kustra. “Every year players improve and step up. So I’m sure they’ll be just fine.”
For Kustra, with his son Jake committed to play for the Notre Dame Hounds program in Wilcox, he will no longer be behind the Terriers’ bench next season.
“Jake will play for Notre Dame, so I won’t be the coach next year,” he said.