After a long summer and a month long preseason, it was time to finally drop the puck Friday night as the Yorkton Terriers hosted the Weyburn Red Wings in their first game of the SJHL season. Last season saw the Terriers season end with an early playoff exit to the Melville Millionaires, but with a strong core of returning players and new talent the Terriers were looking to start their new season off on a winning note. Once the 2012/13 Terriers were introduced, the puck was dropped, and the Terriers showed that they are ready for the long season from day one.
It took just seven minutes for the Terriers to notch their first goal of the season as returning player and Yorkton product Tayler Thompson opened the scoring on assists from Caley Bjork and Kailum Gervais. The goal culminated a dominant opening ten minutes of the period for the Terriers who took advantage of a Weyburn penalty fifty-five seconds into the game to gain momentum and kept the puck in the Red Wings zone. The Terriers hard work paid off with the Thompson goal as the former WHL player scored his first in what will likely be many goals for the Terriers this season.
Period two saw Gervais take a costly high sticking penalty that led to a Ryan Whitell goal as the Red Wings tied the game up six minutes into the period on the powerplay. The level score did not last long though as Daylan Gatzke scored two minutes after the Weyburn marker to retake the lead for the Terriers. Jeremy Johnson put the game away for good on an unassisted goal midway through the third period to give the Terriers insurance and seal the 3-1 victory. Things got a little interesting at the end of the game as John Odgers took a roughing penalty that saw Weyburn take a powerplay with 1:30 left in the game, but the Red Wings failed to capitalize on the game ending man advantage and the Terriers opened their season with a win for the FAA faithful. Roughly 915 fans filled the arena to see the game and were not disappointed as the Terriers gave a full team effort and showed that their depth will keep them in the mix this season.
Kale Thomson continued his strong play from last season in net in his first game as the Terriers number one goalie. Thomson, who had a 2.69 GAA in his rookie season, stopped 31 shots in his season debut and was instrumental in the win. For his efforts Thomson was named SJHL Goalie of the Week.
The win puts the Terriers in second in the extremely early Sherwood Conference standings. Melville sits in first after two wins in a home/home series with Estevan to open their season. The Millionaires won their home opener 10-2 at the Horizon Credit Union Centre before winning 4-2 in Estevan to take first place in the standings, albeit with a game at hand over the Terriers. Flin Flon leads the North Conference as well with four points. Elsewhere around the league former Terrier and Yorkton product Warren Shymko had two solid starts for Kindersley over the weekend, earning him praise around the league.
The Terriers host Humboldt on Friday at the FAA in what is sure to be another entertaining early season SJHL affair. Humboldt won one of their first two games to open up the season, splitting wins with the Notre Dame Hounds. The Broncos play Kindersely midweek before heading to Yorkton, giving the Terriers the rest advantage as they benefit from having a week break before hosting the Broncos in their second game of the season. Game time is 7:30 p.m. and season and single game tickets are still available at the Yorkton Terrier box office or at the gate at the Gallagher Centre box office on game night.