I was walking through the Parkland Mall this past weekend when someone who shall remain nameless (in other words I don’t know his name) stopped me and asked me what I thought of the 2014 SJHL final match up. My answer at the time, quite simply, was “Well it’s the Highway 10 rivalry. How can it get any better?”
Then I got to thinking (which can be a dangerous thing from time to time). I thought about what this series will actually mean to the two clubs.
This series is a financial dream for each team. There will be next to nothing in terms of costs. They’ll need to rent a bus for one hour of travel time (a half hour trip each way).
They’ll have zero hotel expenses. They won’t even have a pre-game meal expense unless the coaching staff decides the team needs to eat at a local restaurant a few hours before the game.
On the other side of that coin is the financial upside. Both teams will no doubt see SJHL records in playoff series attendance numbers meaning that both teams will most likely set league profit records from one single series as well.
Both rinks will be packed for each game as Yorkton and Melville fans alike will make the half hour or so trip down Highway 10 for away games.
Then there is that one other person that benefits from this series. SJHL President Bill Chow suddenly looks like a genius with his conference shake up over last offseason.
You see, this is the first possible season that these two enemies could meet in the SJHL finals.
When Chow and company announced the division/conference change up in the summer/fall of 2013 many people initially disliked it. They then realized that it opened up a chance for the Yorkton Terriers and Melville Millionaires, two teams that genuinely hate each other, to battle each other in the league finals; something that had never happened in either team’s existence so far.
Sure, the chance was miniscule. Both teams had to finish in the perfect spot at the end of the regular season so as to avoid each other until the finals.
To add to that, both teams had to win their first two series just to make it to the finals.
Fast forward 66 games and that miniscule chance has happened. Both the Terriers and Mils will meet in the 2013/14 SJHL Canalta Cup finals for the first time in history. The resulting series, no matter how it plays out, will definitely be a feather in the cap of Chow who, when deciding on the new SJHL league and playoff format, could not have planned for a better outcome.
The hockey in this will be fast paced, physical and intense. The fan support will be off the hook and the income for each team from the series will be record setting.
It will also be one of the most competitive series in SJHL history because, while Yorkton got the better of Melville in the regular season series with a record of 6-2, they only outscored the Mils 22-19.
The Highway 10 rivalry will be in full force for a minimum of four games and a maximum of seven. Orange will combat blue on the ice as well as in the stands.
Everyone who has the chance to come to a game, whether it be at Yorkton’s Farrell Agencies Arena or Melville’s Horizon Credit Union Centre, best do so.
If they don’t they’ll most likely end up missing some of the best hockey they’ll ever have the chance to watch in an electrifying atmosphere that will rival that of the Stanley Cup.
In short, miss this historic Highway 10 rivalry SJHL finals series and you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.
I’ll end this with a prediction: Just like Jason McCoy’s “Born Again in Dixieland” does in my car, the Yorkton Terriers will repeat. Terriers in six for yet another SJHL title.