Yorkton and Melville faced off once again, this time in enemy territory. The rivalry continued Saturday night in Melville at 7:30 pm, where the tone was much darker.
Terriers were heavy on the penalty minutes in the first but still solid on the kill, impressive goaltending surviving a Millionaires two man advantage early on in the period.
Stellar goaltending on both sides kept the first period scoreless for the first fifteen minutes before Yorkton’s Ethan Robson broke the ice with their first goal with just over five minutes left on the clock.
Two minutes later Melville Millionaires forward, Luke Nkwama, scores on the power play with two and a half minutes on the board, tying it up 1-1 at the end of the first.
The second started out evenly matched on the ice as well as in the penalty box with very little center ice play as the teams sized each other up.
Just as it was starting to look like a deadlock, Nkwama sinks another and the Mils take the lead with just over five minutes left in the second and widened the gap further with a third goal on the power play at 17:23 by Aidan Steinke.
Third period action consisted of penalties, penalties and more penalties. This could have been a case study for the official rule book. The crowd sat stunned at the Horizon Credit Union Center as call after call was made; those penalty minutes including the first five minute major to the Terriers were the only numbers showing up on the scoreboard, until 11:52 left in the period when Brandon Larochelle scored on the power play for Melville, making it a three point lead for the Millionaires.
Still on the power play from that Terriers five minute major, Luke Nkwama scores again for the hat trick.
Two minutes later, it’s Deja vu all over again, Nkwama with a fourth goal bringing it to 6-1 for Melville.
With the referees getting the most action, there was no repreive from the penalty calls as tempers started to flare.
Then, what was almost a perfect day for Melville came to a sudden halt.
With just over five minutes left to play, a race for the puck between Terrier Greg Mulhall and Millionaires’ goaltender Berk Berkeliev ended in a brutal collision.
After what many first responders would agree were perhaps a few too many attempts at encouraging the goaltender to get upright, Berkeliev was taken to the hospital for a head injury, an incident that made an already tense and subdued Melville crowd even more inaudible.
It was too little too late for Ryan Granville, making it 2 for the Terriers and Nic Porterfield soon recovered that Millionaires six point lead with a couple of minutes left in play. Final score: 7-2 Melville.
Berkeliev was released from the hospital on Sunday morning. No word yet on when he will be returning to the ice. Mulhall handed a 25 game suspension by the league.
When asked by Yorkton This Week about the suspension, SJHL commissioner Bill Chow allowed that this was a particularly long suspension.
“I’ve been president for nine years, and this is certainly the longest suspension I’ve seen in the duration of my tenure. I can’t say offhand that this is categorically the longest suspension ever per se, but I wouldn’t be surprised [if it were].”
Yorkton faces off against Estevan Tuesday night at 7:00.