Melville, Dauphin and Vernon, three Canadian cities which have played a role in showing how a hockey team is often the heartbeat of a community.
In this case the community is Yorkton, and the team, the Junior Terriers.
The Terriers would make it to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championships and meet Melville.
Now it’s not unusual for fans of the Terriers and Millionaires to travel Highway 10 to enjoy games in the other team’s rink. Rivals, which are less than half-an-hour apart, do that.
Still, when the Terriers swept to the recent league title, winning in Melville, there was a section filled with Terrier fans relishing in the victory along with the players on the ice.
The Terrier players gathered near the section filled with Terrier fans and saluted their supporters by hoisting the Canalta Cup high before their fans.
The win earned the Terriers a berth in the Western Canada Cup in Dauphin.
The highway to Dauphin is a longer one than it is to Melville, the pilgrimage of Terrier fans headed east started with Game One in the WCC round robin, and grew through the week.
By the time the Terriers squared off with Dauphin for the Cup, there were literally hundreds of Yorkton fans in the arena. It may have been in the Kings’ barn, but the crowd was pretty evenly split. And the cheers for Terrier goals at least as loud.
Again, when the Terriers won, the fans lingered in the stands and repeatedly shared something that only a sports team at the highest level of achievement can give to a community.
Then the Terriers boarded a jet and headed west across the Rocky Mountains, ending up in Vernon at the Royal Bank Cup.
It is a long way from Yorkton to Vernon, but there were fans wearing Terrier jerseys in the stands even as Yorkton lost its first two games.
But as the Terriers faced win, or be out of contention games, something happened. More and more Terrier jerseys began to sprinkle through the crowds.
Parents, grandparents, fans, former players, former Yorktonites now living in British Columbia, like members of a tribe dispersed across half a country, they arrived at Kal Tire Place in Vernon to cheer for the Terriers.
It was like some rite of spring, a gathering to rejoice at the best of what our community can be. The Terriers, young men, some from our city since birth, others adopted as our own when they made the team, are the best of us.
They are hardworking, determined, young men, who have played with heart and skill and have overcome injuries and adversities, and they have succeeded.
This is being written on the eve of the RBC final, a final where our Terriers will face Carleton Place for the Canadian crown because it doesn’t matter if the Terriers capture the RBC or not.
They are already winners. They have brought our community together in ways far beyond our city limits. They have become, for a time, our heart, a bravely beating heart, which has been heard by many of us and brought us together as part of something special.
It is all we can ask of our teams and the Terriers have delivered.