The Yorkton Harvest split a pair of road games with the Battlefords Stars on the weekend to keep their head above water.
The split gave Yorkton a 4-3-1-1 record that sits them in fifth spot in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League standings.
Taking into account the Stars were undefeated before the back-to-back contests with a 5-0-0 record, Harvest head coach Dan Cross was content with snagging two-out-of-four points.
“We wanted to win them both, but because of how well the Stars have played this year, we will take the two points,” said the head coach.
Carter Phair turned away 40 of 42 shots in the first game on Saturday to lead the Harvest to a 3-2 victory in overtime.
“He’s easily exceeded our expectations,” said Cross on the Edmonton Oil Kings draft pick. “Being 14 until December, he’s hardly old enough to play in this league and he’s looked great so far. We’ve been extremely happy with his play.”
Following Chase Mckersie and Jaden Kreklewich exchanging goals with the Stars’ Spencer Bast in regulation time, McKersie played hero by scoring the overtime winner at the 3:13 mark.
McKerise, like Phair, has exceeded Cross’ expectations this year. The 17-year-old forward is tied for the lead league in points with six goals and 15 points in nine games after mustering 29 points in 44 games last year.
“We’ve been really happy with Chase,” said the head coach. “He’s working hard and seems to be getting better after every game. What really stands out about him is his shot. He’s got a great shot that goalies have a hard time of controlling.”
Ryan Rewert stopped 30 of 33 shots in the Battlefords net.
The Harvest couldn’t make it two in a row the following night on Sunday as they fell 6-3 to the Stars at the North Battleford Civic Centre.
After a scoreless first period, the two clubs almost blow off each other’s goal lights in the middle frame. Adam Neibrandt scored two and McKersie notched one for the Harvest while Bast potted two and Brandon Lesko and Keifer Hintz lit the lamp to give the Stars a 4-3 lead.
Stars forward Layne Young netted two in the third to put the game away.
Carson Bogdan stopped 25 of 31 shots for Yorkton while Rylan Toth turned away 30 of 33 for the Battlefords.
Before hitting the road on the weekend, the Harvest hosted the Tisdale Trojans on Wednesday at the Farrell Agencies Arena.
The match was a close battle right until the end, but the Harvest couldn’t muster a third goal to the tie the game up, going onto lose 3-2.
“This was a game we really wanted to win,” said Cross. “I thought we outplayed them, but we just couldn’t get the bounces that night.”
The game was a hard-hitting affair that included lots of scrums after the whistle. There were 46 penalty minutes handed out in the match with 40 of them coming in the second period.
“It was a pretty rough game,” said Cross. “We both played physical games and there were some big hits at times.”
Heading into the third period down by one, Korwin Shewchuk tied the game up for the Harvest at the 18:15 mark. It was, however, nixed not long after as Drew Litwin scored the Trojans’ game-winner at 14:42.
Bogdan stopped 35 of 38 shots while Kyle Steinke turned away 30 of 32 for the Trojans.
The Harvest host the Notre Dame Hounds, who they lost to 6-5 on Oct. 2 on the road, on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Farrell Agencies Arena. They then head to Regina on Saturday to take on the Pat Canadians at 2 p.m. in the Co-Operators Arena.
Since the Hounds sit at the bottom of the standings with a 1-6-0 record, Cross expects his team to capitalize on the victory.
“It is a game we have to win,” he said. “They beat us earlier in the year in overtime and we don’t want to lose to them twice. If we can beat them and then the Pat Canadians, I will be really happy with the first quarter of our season.”