The Yorkton Terriers seem to like overtime, having won their last four playoff games in extra time, including the opening two games in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League final.
The league final opened Friday in Yorkton where the Melville Millionaires struck first at the Farrell Agencies Arena with a goal at 9:53 of the second period by Brady Constant.
The one-goal lead looked as though it might hold until Brett Boehm finally had the sold out home ice crowd cheering with the tying goal at 19:20 of the third, a goal scored with Terrier netminder Kale Thomson on the bench in favour of an extra attacker.
The game went to overtime where Kailum Gervais was the Terrier hero, scoring the winner at 2:39 of the first extra frame.
“It’s great to get the goal,” said Gervais, who then quickly pointed out the win was “a team effort.”
So what has made the Terriers so deadly in overtime?
Gervais said head coach Trent Cassan has instilled a philosophy about how to attack extra time, “to play not to lose in overtime.” He added that really comes down to playing extra time “with no fear.”
It helps too that the Terriers are focused on success.
“We never give up,” said Gervais, adding there is an incredible amount of character on the team and it is showing.
“You’ve just got to keep pushing and never give up,” he reiterated.
Kale Thomson earned the win in goal for Yorkton facing 25-shots, while Isaiah Plett took the loss in the Melville goal facing 46.
Thomson had a few nights against Humboldt where, in spite of winning, the goals against had climbed.
But in the semi-final win over the Broncos, and Game One of the finals he was back to his stingy self. He credited his defence really stiffening, giving him a chance to do his job.
Down the ice Plett was making some highlight reel saves, but Thomson said he just stayed focused on his game as much as possible.
“He (Plett) was making some pretty big saves,” he said, but added “I felt good out there tonight,” and it showed in his own performance.
Thomson said with Plett playing well he realized he had to make the big saves to keep the Terriers in the game after they got down 1-0.
The atmosphere is also one which makes playing his best easy, observed Thomson.
“Obviously it’s pretty exciting, especially playing Melville in the final. You couldn’t ask for a better story line,” he said.
Cassan said he felt the Terriers started the game well with some chances early.
“But the last five minutes we were turning the puck over,” he said, and that gave the Mils some life which carried into the next period.
“It was not a very good second period for us,” he said.
But the Terriers managed to be down only a goal, and pushed back hard in the third.
Asked if Plett’s play impacts a team, Cassan said they know he is a good goaltender who will make big saves, adding “we can’t allow that to frustrate us.”
And Cassan reminded Thomson was just as good in the Terrier net. While “maybe not as many shots they had some real quality chances Kale made stops on.”
Game Two took place in Melville on Saturday.
This time it was the Terriers that struck first with Jordan Ross getting the goal 15:07 into the first period.
Reed Murray would finally knot the score for the Millionaires at the 9:03 mark of the third.
And again the game went to extra time.
This time the first overtime proved nothing,
In the second overtime period Adam Koopman was coming on the ice after serving a two-minute minor for cross checking with Devon McMullen scoring the winner for the Terriers, an unassisted effort.
Thomson had the win in the Terrier net facing 38-shots while Plett faced 45 pucks in the loss for the Mils.
Game Three was scheduled to be played in Yorkton Monday, but results were not available at press time.
Game Four will be played tonight in Melville.
If Game Five, if necessary, will be played in Yorkton Friday.
Game Six will go in Melville Saturday, again if needed, with Game Seven back in Yorkton Monday, April 21.