It will be remembered as the game of ‘what if a five-minute implosion had not happened?’
The Yorkton Terriers and Vernon Vipers appeared locked in a low-scoring affair at the Royal Bank Cup tourney Monday.
The host Vipers had scored a single goal in the opening frame, a marker by eventual Vernon Player of the Game Colton Sparrow.
But as the second period began the wheels fell off the Terrier wagon for four excruciating to watch minutes.
Liam Coughlin would give the Vipers a 2-0 lead 51-seconds in with a power play marker.
Seventeen seconds later it was 3-1 as Brett Mulcahy popped one past Terrier netminder Kale Thomson.
Twenty-four seconds after that Sparrow struck again making it 4-1.
Michael McNicholas extended the lead to 5-1 at the 3:48 point.
That was enough for Terrier coach Trent Cassan who hooked Thomson in favour of Riley Medves.
Brett Boehm finally put the Terriers on the board with a goal 15:32 into the middle stanza.
The third period saw the Terriers claw back to respectability.
Dylan Johnson started things with a power play goal 3:54 in.
Tanner Lischynsky used the man advantage to score the Terriers’ third goal at 8:26.
Then Tyson Enzie drew Yorkton within one with an even strength goal at 10:32.
But that would be as close as the Terriers would get as Sparrow completed a hat trick performance for the Vipers with an insurance goal into an empty net for a 6-4 win.
Thomson faced 18 shots before being lifted for Medves who faced 15.
Asked after the game if he might go with Medves in Game 3 Wednesday afternoon against Carleton Place, Terrier head coach Trent Cassan said only minutes after the loss to Vernon he had not even thought about possible scenarios for the next game.
Austin Smith was the winning goaltender facing 44 Terrier shots.
Cassan said while the Terriers fought back to make it close, and it was only five-minutes where they were badly out played, there are still no excuses.
“We can’t say if, or what might have been. The five-minutes happened,” he said. “… You can’t put yourself in that situation … Five-minutes you can’t let a game get away from you.”
Devon McMullen was chosen Yorkton’s Player of the Game. The team Captain relied simply, “I don’t know,” when asked what had happened at the start of the second period.
“It was one of those games,” he finally added, noting “sometimes it just seems they put the puck on the net and it just keeps going in.”
Cassan said the Vipers showed they deserve to be in the mix for an RBC Cup.
“They’re good off the attack, and work extremely hard,” he said.
The attack versus the Terriers were often situations where they had numbers on the Terrier defence.
“You can’t give up odd man rushes,” said the Terrier coach.
But as a team looking for something positive after losing their first two games of the round robin Cassan did add there was some “really good push back from our guys.”
Cassan said the Terriers need to get back to playing their best hockey, something which
has not happened in their first two games.
We haven’t put together a complete game. Our first game wasn’t good,” he said, adding against the Vipers “we played good in spurts the second half.”
Cassan said it is rather simple what has to happen for the Terriers rest of the way to turn things around.
“For us to have any kind of success in this tournament our best guys have to be our best guys,” he said, even following a night where they had secondary scoring from the likes of Enzie. “… They (the vets) have done it all year long.”
And … he said winning even one game in the round robin might get you into the playoffs, so the Terriers are certainly still alive.
“Until they tell us we’re eliminated we’re going to keep going,” he said.
McMullen is one of those leaders, and he said he has confidence they can right the ship.
“I have faith in our team and what we can do … We all have faith in each other in the room,” he said, adding it showed when down 5-1 and fighting back to make it a one-goal game until the empty netter. “It showed some pride.”
The Captain reminded the Terriers struggled off the start at the Western Canada Cup, going 1-1 in the first two, “and it could have been ‘O’ and two,” he said, but from there they got on track.
“We just need to find a way to get into the playoffs.”