The Yorkton Terriers clinched the Viterra Conference title in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League with a decisive 11-1 win over Nipawin Saturday.
The win raised the Terrier season record to 34-12-2-5 for 75 points, four up on Melville.
Estevan sits third with 60-points with Weyburn fourth at 47.
Yorkton’s 75 points are also best in the league, with three games remaining in the regular season.
Hammering the Hawks
Saturday the visiting Nipawin Hawks out-shot Yorkton 12-7 in the first period, but still trailed the host Terriers 3-0 with Tyler Giebel, Brett Boehm and Riley Hunt scoring the Yorkton goals.
In the second the Terriers fired 20-shots at the Hawks, scoring four, and chasing Hawks starting goaltender Joe O’Brien from the game in favour of Steven Glass.
Giebel would round out a hat trick with two in the second, with Dallas Rossiter netting his first of the season, and Tayler Thompson popping his 21st of the campaign.
The Hawks would use its powerplay to spoil Kale Thomson’s shut-out bid with their only goal of the contest 39-seconds into the third. As Michael Lambert picked up the only goal among 30-Nipawin shots.
The Terriers would fire 18-shots in the third, scoring on four, including Thompson’s second, part of a five-point night, while Dylan Johnson, Kailum Gervais and Zach Zadorozniak adding singles to round out an 11-1 win.
“The guys were very focused tonight,” said Terrier head coach Trent Cassan, adding the Terriers were hoping to clinch the division on home ice and they did that.
With the Viterra theirs, Cassan said the Terriers have one regular season goal to go, to lead the overall SJHL standings heading into playoffs.
They hold a two-point lead on Kindersley with each team having three games left to play.
While scoring 11 is something of a romp, Cassan said the team “didn’t get into bad habits. They were doing things the right way. They played hard and honest.”
The Terrier coach said he particularly liked that the powerplay was again sharp.
“Our powerplay has been pretty inspired the last 10-15 games,” he said, adding “that’s going to be a key for us going into the playoffs.”
Cassan said a potent powerplay can make opponents think before taking liberties with the Terriers, if they know they will pay for transgressions with powerplay goals against.
“It keeps them a bit more honest,” he said.
Thompson said the game was something of a statement for the Terriers who lost 5-0 in Nipawin the last time the two clubs met.
“It’s not often we lose a game 5-0. That was in the back of our minds” he said. “We came out wanting to show them that was a fluke.”
Cassan said in the 5-0 loss he had some concerns about the Terriers having one another’s backs, adding since that loss the team has really come together, whether the 11-goal barrage was part of the story line, or not.
As for his Thompson, when asked if he had ever had a performance like the one Saturday, he said it was a rarity, adding “maybe in Bantam” he had turned the trick before.
“Thompson played a great game,” said Cassan, adding “our best players were our best players,” in the win.
Asked about Hunt joining he and Boehm on a line, Thompson said he has fit it smoothly.
“He’s a real smart player,” he said, adding his speed is a huge asset for a line that “wants to be attacking with speed all the time.”
As for the lone goal against, Thompson took responsibility for that as it was him sitting in the penalty box.
“That was my bad,” he said. “I take that personally.”
Thompson said Thomson deserved a shut-out the way he has back-stopped the Terriers all season.
It was a good old shoot out at the Farrell Agencies Arena as Weyburn rolled in for a rare Thursday encounter.
Daylan Gatzke struck first for the Terriers at 2:13 of the first period.
Matt Eng quickly responded for the Wings with a powerplay marker at 3:40, and Josh Lees made it 2-1 visitors before the end of the opening 20-minutes.
Tyler Borstmayer made it 3-1 with a powerplay goal 5:57 into the second.
But Yorkton evened things late.
Tayler Thompson scored on the Terrier powerplay at 13:34, and Chase Norrish scored the tying goal at 17:28.
Brett Boehm gave Yorkton an early third period goal at 2:30, only to have Colton Laroque use the Wing powerplay to again knot the score at 5:18.
The man advantage would give Yorkton the eventual game-winner as Boehm scored his second of the frame at the nine-minute mark.
Boehm would be credited with his third of the night at 13:30, although it was clearly Tyler Giebel who netted the final goal of the night on a set-up by Boehm.
Kale Thomson had the win in the Terrier net facing 23 shots, while Rylan Parenteau took the loss for the Wings facing 40.
The Terriers enter the final week of the regular season with three games scheduled.
Tonight (Wednesday) the Terriers host Notre Dame in the final home ice encounter of the season.
Yorkton hits the road for action in Flin Flon Friday, then wrap up the season in Humboldt Saturday.