Things are tightening up in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Viterra Division.
Yorkton remains atop the Viterra after splitting a pair of games on the weekend, having 43 points based on a 21-15-1 record. The Terriers have a six-point cushion over second place Estevan. Melville is third with 32 points with Weyburn fourth with 29.
Friday the Terriers hosted Flin Flon in a game which was the debut of new netminder Riley Lamb.
Lamb, who had been acquired in a trade earlier in the week with Weyburn would face 35 shots from the Bombers, turning away 32, to help his new team secure a 5-3 win.
Lamb came to the Terriers in exchange for goaltender Ben Laidlaw. As well, the Wings gained the rights to defencemen Parker Gavlas and Christian Riemer. Gavlas and Riemer currently play in the Western Hockey League with Gavlas playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings and Riemer playing for the Swift Current Broncos.
Laidlaw had played for the Terriers for two seasons and played in 17 games this season with the Terriers with nine wins, eight losses and one overtime loss. After two games in Weyburn he has an overall 4.27 goals against average and an .885 save percentage.
Lamb has now played in 28 games this season with a 3.44 goals against average and a .910 save percentage and 10 wins.
Terrier head coach and general manager Mat Hehr said a goaltending change has been on his radar for a while.
“It’s been something we’ve been working on. We’ve been poking around the last couple of months.”
Hehr said when he learned Lamb was available he was immediately interested, as he is a veteran goaltender with Western Hockey League experience, which is important as a playoff run looms.
In the game Friday Flin Flon started the scoring with a powerplay effort by Caleb Moretz, 14:52 into the first period.
At 16:58 Brendan Mark responded with a goal for the home side to send the teams to the dressing room tied 1-1 through 20-minutes of play.
Yorkton would score the only goal of the second period, a marker by Cody Bruchkowski at 7:49.
It took only 5:26 into the third period for Nate Hooper to tie the contest 2-2.
Mark would score his second on the game to again give Yorkton a lead, a lead built on by a Branden Klatt goal to make it a 4-2 score.
Hooper would net his second of the contest at 18:43 to make it a 4-3 game, but Kishaun Gervais salted away the win with a goal at the 19-minute mark to round out the 5-3 win.
“I thought Friday night was one of our better efforts all season,” said Hehr, adding the Bombers are a very hard to team to play.
The traded netminders would end up squaring off Saturday as Weyburn visited the Farrell Agencies Arena.
Laidlaw would come out the winner, stopping all but two of the 47-shots he faced from Terrier shooters.
For his part Lamb faced 25-shots, allowing four goals in the Terrier net.
The teams traded powerplay goals in the first period, Sean Olson striking first for Weyburn, and Jared Legien knotting the score for Yorkton.
In the middle frame it was again a case of trading goals, Dino Antoniadis scoring an unassisted marker for the Terriers, and 1:29 later William Cruise tieing the contest for the Red Wings.
Drew Anderson scored what would prove the game-winner for Weyburn only 1:21 into the third period, and then Tyran Brown added an insurance marker with a powerplay goal at 7:26.
“Saturday was almost sort of a trap game,” said Hehr.
Hehr said coming off a great performance against Flin Flon, and knowing Weyburn were in the division basement may have left the Terriers over confident.
And then there was the Laidlaw factor. Hehr said his former netminder put in a great performance against his old team.
“Truthfully, I’m happy he played well. He’s such a great kid,” said the Terrier coach, adding ideally the Terriers would still have won though. “… The biggest thing with him, he just needed a change of scenery.”
The SJHL trade deadline is Jan. 10, and Hehr said he’s looking around.
“I’m still sniffing. One, or two more moves I’d be happy,” he said, adding he doesn’t want to “yard sale the team for next year” but having lost three-of-four coming back from the Christmas break, the losses to teams below them in the standings, does lend some urgency to add another veteran presence primarily on the blueline.
“I really like our forwards, the guys up front,” said Hehr.
Brendan Mark, of the Terriers has been named Defenceman of the week for the first week in January.
Mark, who hails fromGrand Rapids MN., fired three goals and one assist in three games played during the week, including two goals against Flin Flon Friday.
Mark also scored a goal on New Year’s Day against Melville and set up one of the two goals the Terriers scored against Weyburn on Saturday.
On the season Mark has points in five of his last six games and five-goals and 24-assists in 37-games played.