The Yorkton Harvest sent the Blazers running back to Saskatoon following grabbing three points against them in their back-to-back weekend affair.
In their first game on Saturday, a heroic late third period comeback led the Harvest to knocking off the Blazers 4-3 at the Farrell Agencies Arena.
After Saskatoon snagged a 2-0 lead in the opening frame, Tanner Jeannot put Yorkton on the board just over a minute into the second. Blazers forward Shane Sherban and Harvest sniper Tyler Kreklewich later exchanged goals in the last four minutes of the period.
The Harvest couldn’t find the back of the net in the final frame until the last 33 seconds when Kreklewich scored on a wrist shot and Brennan Watson later sniped the winner with only three seconds left on the clock.
Late period goals are nothing new to the Harvest. In their Sept. 28 game against the Swift Current Legionnaires, Turner Ottenbreit scored a goal with two seconds left in the first and another with three seconds left in the third.
Head coach Dan Cross believes the Harvest’s secret to scoring late in the game is his club’s ‘enthusiasm in the room.’
“I think it’s the enthusiasm in the room,” he said. “When it comes down to the crunch there, the adrenaline kicks in and the energy carries from our dressing room onto the ice.”
Carter Phair thrived in the Harvest blue paint in his SMAAAHL debut against the Blazers, stopping 20 of 23 shots.
“He played phenomenal,” said Cross. “He’s only 14 years old and he doesn’t turn 15 until December. To come out and have a game like that and hold us in it to give us a chance – that was great.”
At the other end of the ice, Austin Swystun turned away 26 of 30 pucks that came his way.
The following day the Harvest couldn’t make it two in a row as they tied the Blazers 2-2.
Chase McKersie put the Harvest on the board in the first period, but Krstian St. Onge knotted the game up at one early in the second frame.
Following Kreklewich scoring his third goal in two games, Curran Reeve notched one on the Blazers’ power play at the 1:28 mark to wrap up the game’s scoring.
Ultimately, penalties cost the Harvest the game. They took 13, including seven in the third period.
“Today was penalty after penalty that really hurt us,” said Cross. “I thought we played pretty good five on five, but it was the penalties that really hurt us.”
There were several questionable calls throughout the contest. The most eyebrow raising call came with only 48 seconds left in the final frame. While buzzing around the net, McKersie was met with some punches to the face from Blazers defender Connor Hobbs. Yet even though Hobbs initiated the scrum and clearly threw more punches, Mckersie received a penalty for roughing and slashing while Hobbs only received a minor for roughing.
Cross didn’t have any complaints about the officiating, though.
“That’s just the way she goes,” said the head coach. “The refs call it one way and they might see it differently than me, but I have a bias.”
Back from his one-game break, Carson Bogdan stood on his head with a 44-save performance.
“He played great,” said Cross. “He kept us in the game and made some great saves.”
Blazers puck-stopper Brett Pongracz, meanwhile, stopped 28 of 30 shots.
Before facing the Blazers in back-to-back games, the Harvest travelled to Wilcox on Oct. 2 to take on the Notre Dame Argos.
After exchanging five goals apiece in the first 60 minutes, Egor Popov scored in extra time to give the Argos the 6-5 victory.
“The Argos game was probably our poorest game of the year so far,” said Cross. “We made quite a bit of mistakes and our d-zone faceoffs really cost us.”
A bright spot in the Argos game was that the Harvest haven’t had trouble putting the puck in the back of the net despite losing their three top goal scorers from last year in the offseason.
“We’re getting support from those two different lines (Kreklewich line and the Tanner Jeannot line),” said Cross. “Corwin Stevely has been playing hard and Jaden Kreklewich has been playing awesome. He’s not maybe getting much on the score board, but he’s doing those little things that help us. And a lot of our guys on our other lines have been stepping up, too.”
With five games under their belt, the Harvest captured eight out of a possible 10 points with a 3-0-1-1 record.
“You always want 10 out of 10, but we’re good (with the start),” said Cross. “It’s a good start to the year.”
The Harvest only have one game on their schedule this week. They head back to Wilcox on Oct. 9 for a rematch with the Argos.
“We want to redeem ourselves in that game,” said Cross. “It’s a good chance to show we are better than our last game against them.”