Monday November 24, 2014

Terriers repeat as SJHL champs

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Terrier Captain Devon McMullen accepts the Canalta Cup from SJHL president Bill Chow

As the cliche goes, the brooms were out in Melville last week as the Yorkton Terriers won Game 4 of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League finals, to sweep the Mills from the playoff picture.

The Terriers win earned Yorkton its second straight Canalta Cup crown, and launched the Terriers into the Western Canada Cup starting in Dauphin Saturday (see related preview in the Sports Section).

The Series sweep was set up by the Terriers winning Game 3 in Yorkton.

After a scoreless first period last Monday (April 14) at the Farrell Agencies Arena Derek Falloon gave the home team a 1-0 lead 4:53 into the second period.

Ben Mack knotted the score for the Mills at 7:36, only to have a Tyler Giebel goal at 18:47 restore a one-goal Terrier lead.

The slim lead held until Giebel scored an insurance marker into an empty net at 19:42 of the third to round out a 3-1 Yorkton win.

Kale Thomson faced 21-shots in the Terrier net for the win, while Isaiah Plett faced 40 in the loss for the Millionaires.

The series switched to Melville for Game 4 last Wednesday (April 16), and again the first period was a scoreless one.

Kailum Gervais finally broke the 0-0 contest potting what would be the eventual game-winner 16:23 into the second.

Mills netminder Plett was injured in his save attempt, and was forced to leave the game.

Richard Palmer took over in net, only to have Dylan Baer beat him five-hole on the first shot he faced at 18:02.

Giebel and Brett Boehm would add third period goals for the Terries, as Thomson turned away all 22-shots he faced for a 4-0 win.

The Terriers were, o f course, all smiles after the game, but Gervais' was particularly big, his goal ending up being the Cup-winner.

"It feels great," he said after the game, adding "every single game" is special on a playoff run like the Terriers had. They were 12-2 on the run, winning their last eight-in-a-row.

Gervais said while the Terriers won the game by four goals, the Mills did not go easily, especially in the second frame where they battled hard.

"I felt them battle back in the second period," said Gervais, adding the Mills were physical and held the tempo for much of the period.

But the Terriers had chances.

"We capitalized when they happened," said Gervais.

Terrier head coach Trent Cassan said he liked the way the Terriers started the game.

"We had some good chances (in the first), but didn't score," he said.

In the second Cassan agreed there was push back from the Mills, but the Terriers weathered it until a break gave them a goal.

While Plett was given a lot of kudos for keeping the Mills in the four games, at the other end Thomson was steady allowing only three goals in the series.

"It's pretty unreal," said Thomson amid the post-game celebration.

The win was bigger for Thomson, who while on last year's winner, sat on the bench through the playoffs as Dawson MacAuley carried the load.

"It's one thing to be part of the team. It's another to be out there (on the ice) every night," he said, adding he wanted the opportunity to "prove I could be that guy."

As for comparisons to Plett, Thomson said the their styles are very different.

"He makes a lot of flashy saves," he said. "I'm more calm in the net. I just want to make the saves I need too."

Cassan agreed his netminder is steady in the way he goes about his business.

"Kale doesn't get a whole lot of attention, but he's been great all year," he said.

Chase Norrish was named the SJHL playoff Most Valuable Player following the game.

Norrish quickly shared the award.

"It couldn't have happened without the great team we have here," he said.

Norrish too said the Mills battled hard.

"You've got to give credit to Melville. They were not an easy team to beat at all," he said.

Asked which win was sweeter, this year on Melville ice, or last season at home, Gervais said it's always great to win on home ice, but to take the crown in your biggest rival's barn, with a good contingent of Terrier fans in attendance was sweet too.

Norrish too said it might have been a little sweeter to win on home ice, but then added the feeling that comes with any championship is special.

"It doesn't matter where you win, it's a great feeling," he said.

Thomson said if he was to pick a place to win other than the Farrell Agencies Arena, "it would be Melville." He said the rivalry, and Terrier following in the stands made the feeling pretty special.

Cassan said he'll take a championship on any ice surface.

"It wouldn't matter where we won. It's just such a gratifying feeling knowing all the hard work that's gone into it," he said. "… They really pulled together as a group."

Looking ahead to the WCC, the Terriers were left with something of a bad taste last spring losing to eventual Royal Bank Cup winners Brooks 1-0 to be eliminated.

"We've been there before," said Norrish. "We know what is ahead of us."

Norrish said a big key is remembering it is no longer a playoff series, so every game takes on added importance.

"You have to just take it one game at a time," he said.

That is the way Cassan sees the WCC too.

"Tournament play is so much different than a playoff series," he said, adding it can be one loss and home, so you have to be up for every shift in every game.

Thomson said he is simply looking forward to being in net this year.

"Its a great opportunity to go there. We've got a pretty special group of guys here," he said. "… It should be fun. I'm excited."

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