The Yorkton Harvest of the SMAAAHL hit the road this past weekend for three games in three nights in their first action since December 19.
The first night saw the Harvest drop a 5-2 decision to the Beardy’s Blackhawks at the Willow Cree Memorial Sport Centre in Duck Lake. Game two was much the same as the Harvest fell 7-3 to the Saskatoon Blazers at the Harold Latrace Arena in Saskatoon.
However the Harvest managed to end the road trip on a positive note, edging the Saskatoon Blazers 4-3 in overtime to move seven points clear of the Blazers for the eighth and final playoff spot with 14 games remaining in the SMAAAHL season.
Friday against Beardy’s
The Harvest showed some Christmas rust against the Beardy’s Blackhawks on Friday, losing 5-2 in a game that had been rescheduled from November third.
Blackhawks’ Nicholas Shumlanski opened the scoring for the home side when he accepted the pass from Yorkton Terriers prospect Adam Santoro and beat Carson Bogdan for a 1-0 lead.
The 1-0 lead looked as if it would hold up for the first period, however a late Harvest goal by Brennan Watson, his fifth of the season, evened the score with just 24 seconds left in the opening frame.
Ashton Wake restored the Blackhawks lead with 14:06 remaining in the second period before Connor Navrot made it 3-1 with 7:37 remaining to put Beardy’s up 3-1.
Turner Ottenbreit, fresh off of his seven game stint with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, cut the Blackhawks lead to just one with his fifth goal of the campaign but Beardy’s regained their two-goal advantage when Logan Schatz put the puck past Bogdan to make it 4-2.
Wake made it 5-2 with an empty net goal to seal the deal for the Blackhawks as the Harvest opened their three game road trip with a 5-2 loss.
Saturday in Saskatoon
Things looked good for the Harvest as they took a two goal lead in the first period on goals by Jaden Kreklewich and Tanner Jeannot, but the Saskatoon Blazers special teams came to life later in the frame with a shorthanded goal by Curran Reeve and a powerplay marker from David Sheppard to make the score 2-2 after 20 minutes.
Saskatoon took the lead on their second powerplay goal of the game when Lane Pederson put the puck past Carson Bogdan to make it 3-2 just three minutes into the second period.
Riley Braun increased the Blazers lead to two five minutes later when his shot eluded Bogdan for a 4-2 Blazers lead.
Saskatoon continued to fire pucks into the Harvest net in the third period as Sheppard potted his second goal of the game just over a minute into the third to chase Bogdan from the net. Replacing Bogdan was Kinsmen Terrier call up Rylan Palchewich.
The Blazers tested Palchewich early and often and just 40 seconds into his SMAAAHL debut Palchewich was digging the puck out of his net as Reese Johnson made it 6-2 for Saskatoon.
Levin Morin cut the Blazers lead to three with his third goal of the season but the deficit proved too much for the Harvest as they fell 7-3 to the Saskatoon Blazers.
The Harvest took to the ice on Sunday in hopes of salvaging one win on their road trip.
Damian Bentz opened the scoring for the Harvest, putting his fourth goal of the season, this one via the powerplay, past Blazers netminder Austin Swystun for a 1-0 Harvest lead.
The Harvest powerplay clicked again later in the first period when Turner Ottenbreit’s blast beat Swystun to make it 2-0 for the Harvest after one period.
The powerplay fired up again as Ottenbreit’s seventh goal of the season, and third of the road trip, gave the Harvest a three goal lead early in the second period.
The Blazers got one back when Nick Lenius beat Carson Bogdan to make it 3-1 with two minutes remaining in the middle frame.
Shane Sherban made it a one goal game with just 38 seconds left in the second period to cut the lead to 3-2 after 40 minutes of play.
An Adam Neibrandt tripping penalty gave the Blazers powerplay a chance to even the score and even the score they did. David Sheppard scored just 37 seconds into the man advantage to erase his teams deficit and even the score at three for the duration of regulation.
It seemed as if the Harvest’s old nemesis, penalties, would once again cost the Harvest a game when Chase McKersie was sent to the penalty box for two minutes for holding in overtime. However the Harvest penalty kill dug deep and killed off the penalty, enabling Harvest captain Corwin Stevely to gather up the puck and beat Swystun for the game-winning-goal with just 1:11 remaining in overtime.
The win snaps a four game losing streak, something that Harvest head coach Dan Cross hopes will give his team some momentum heading into their next game. “I think just the way we won where we blew a three goal lead and then we took a penalty in overtime which we collectively killed off and then eventually won will help us gain some confidence,” said Cross following the 4-3 Harvest overtime win. “When you get on those losing streaks and the bounces don’t go your way you it’s tough, but now it’s over.
“Now that we’ve got that win and now that we’ve got that one bounce we needed, I think the confidence will be there and maybe we won’t be gripping our sticks quite as hard as we have been in these next games.”
Cross also mentioned how important the return of both Ottenbreit, who spent seven games with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, and Stevely, who had a cup of coffee with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, has been for his club. “Turner (Ottenbreit) had a heck of a game on Sunday with three points and Corwin (Stevely) again running the powerplay off the half wall did an amazing job for us all weekend. That’s definitely something we want to continue to build on.”
“That experience that they get is invaluable for these guys and that’s what we’re trying to do is get them to the next level but for them to return and bring that intensity into our game is a definite help and hopefully that will spread throughout the team.”
The next game for the Yorkton Harvest (10-14-4-2) will be tonight when they host the third place Notre Dame Argos (22-6-2-0) at the Farrell Agencies Arena. Puck drop is set for 8:00p.m.