For the first time since winning the RBC Cup in the spring of 2014, the Yorkton Terriers have won a playoff series.
The Terriers eliminated Notre Dame in their best-of-three wild card round Tuesday at the Farrell Agencies Arena in the city in front of 654 fans.
The visiting Hounds started things off in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League match up scoring the only goal of the first period, a powerplay marker by Jarrett Penner 6:10 in.
The second period would tilt decidedly in favour of the Terriers, as Cody Bruchkowski tied the game 59-seconds in, with Colby Brandt scoring at 4:26 and Chantz Petruic at 6:56 to give the Terriers a 3-1 lead, and chasing Notre Dame starting goaltender Riley Kohonick to the bench. Kohonick had surrendered three goals on only 13 shots.
Matt Lukacs was brought in in relief.
Kyle Robinson responded for the Hounds at 9:49, but Brandt would add his second of the night at 15:38 to make it a 4-2 contest through 40-minutes.
It would take only 1:06 for Branden Klatt to make it a 5-2 game in favour of the home side in the third period.
A powerplay marker by Marshall Wilton at 5:46 would cut into the lead, and an unassisted effort by Charles Martin at 10:40 made it a one-goal game.
And the 5-4 score would hold the rest of the way, as first star Terrier netminder Ryan Ouellette made some big saves on a night he faced 47-shots in the win.
“It was a ton of rubber,” said Ouellette of facing 47-shots, but he added he is a goaltender who likes seeing shots to keep him focused. “Once you get in the game you fight through it.”
Ouellette said he keeps it simple during a game,
“I just focus on the next puck that will be coming at me,” he said.
The third period was obviously the one where the Hounds pressured the hardest. Ouellette said you just have to credit the opposition for their effort.
“Notre Dame did a good job,” he said, adding they played with some definite desperation facing elimination as they were.
Was there a point Terrier coach head coach Mat Hehr felt nervous given the Hound push?
I think right at the start of the game I was sweating,” he said with a grin.
Hehr said the Terriers definitely made it tense in the third when their offence went into a shell.
“It’s kind of been an ongoing thing we can’t stomp on a team,” he said. “We get back on our heels.”
It is an area he said he will definitely look to change as they advance in the playoffs.
As for the significance of the series win, it is not lost on Ouellette.
“This is a huge year for us,” he said, noting last season the Terriers won only 14 games, a total they nearly doubled this season, they had 26. Now they want to roll up some wins in the playoffs.
Hehr too was all smiles.
“It’s awesome. It’s pretty exciting,” he said after the big win. “… The guys worked so hard this season they definitely earned it.”
The Terriers advance to the quarter finals where they face Nipawin. The series starts Friday in the Hawks’ barn.