The Yorkton Bantam AA UCT Terriers improved their record in the SBAAHL to a sparkling 22-5-1 with a close 5-4 victory over the visiting West Central Wheat Kings at the Farrell Agencies Arena on Sunday afternoon.
The win solidifies second place for the Terriers heading in to league playoffs while West Central (5-22-2) has been out of the playoff race for some time despite playing some of its best hockey as of late.
McKenzie Welke (two goals, one assist) and Tyler Stratechuk (three assists) led the Terriers charge with three points each, while Carson Miller (two goals), Carson Welke (one goal, one assist) and Kaleb Bulych (two assists) all had solid games as well.
Yorkton got on the board first, when McKenzie Welke beat Dallan Tuchscherer for his 27th goal of the season just over the midway point of the first period.
The UCT Terriers doubled their lead less than a minute later when Miller deposited his 28th goal of the campaign into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
West Central wasted little time in answering back as Kenzie Arnold found a chink in the armour of Terrier netminder Alex Geddes to cut the deficit to just one a mere 33 seconds after the Miller marker.
Kyle Bosch drew the visitors even with 54 seconds remaining in the first frame when he too beat Geddes to send the game into the second period tied at two.
The Terriers regained the lead when Miller struck once again, beating Tuchscherer with his team leading 29th goal of the season to make it 3-2 for Yorkton.
It seemed as if the UCT Terriers would take a one goal lead into the second intermission due to dominating much of the play, however a roughing penalty to Miller resulted in Bosch’s second goal of the game and a 3-3 tie after 40 minutes of play.
A pair of goals from the Welke brothers, Carson with 17:44 left on the powerplay and McKenzie with 5:49 remaining, gave the home town Terriers a 5-3 lead but Bosch, true to form, made things interesting as he picked up his third goal and fourth point of the game to make it 5-4 with 1:26 left in the third period.
Try as they might the Wheat Kings could not beat Geddes again and the score remained 5-4 at the final horn.
Although the UCT Terriers managed to secure a victory it was evident their coach was not altogether impressed with his teams’ performance. “We didn’t match their intensity anywhere on the ice,” said a frustrated Graham Garrett immediately following the 5-4 Terriers victory. “We had about six guys that were going and the other nine guys were just along for the ride. There’s no way you’ll find any type of success in the playoffs when you don’t match the other teams’ intensity and work ethic. Those are just bad habits.
“If we don’t change those habits then we won’t find the success that we want in the playoffs.”
Luckily for the UCT Terriers they have 10 days to prepare for their next game on Tuesday, February 11 when they visit the Melville Millionaires. But will fans see the same Terriers team that put forth a lackluster effort against West Central? Or will the UCT Terriers be a different team in 10 days’ time? “Well we need to be different. Whether we do or not will be the choice of the players,” offered Garrett. “We as a coaching staff will be doing what we need to be doing to see a different team but ultimately it’s up to them.”