If this weekend was any indication of how the Highway 10 rivalry is going to play out this year, than Parkland area hockey fans are in for a treat. Two intense, dead even hockey games saw the Terriers and the Mills both earn 4-3 shootout wins at home, splitting points and keeping both teams atop the Sherwood Conference standings.
Friday’s game at the FAA saw the Terriers go down 3-2 after two quick goals in the second period, erasing a first period that saw the Terriers dominate and dictate play throughout. Brenden Poncelet and Brady Norrish goals in the first period were the highlights of a first period that saw an inspired Terriers effort.
After continuing to put Melville on the ropes in the beginning of the second and a near miss on a Dylan Johnson shot that hit the post, Melville came roaring back with two goals that flipped the momentum of the game. Kale Thomson bounced back in net after the two quick goals and held ground for a second and third period that saw the Terriers struggle control the puck, causing the FAA crowd to get restless.
A clutch Tyler Giebel goal with under three minutes left sent the game into overtime where the Terriers finished things off in the shootout.
Thomson had 37 saves in the game in addition to shutting the door in the shootout. The game was the typical intense affair and saw the Terriers refuse to back down from any after the whistle play in their home rink.
Saturday night saw the Terriers make another comeback against Melville, this time from 3-1 down after the first period to earn a point in a shootout loss. Tyler Giebel scored another key goal in the second period on the powerplay before Patrick Martens played the hero role with a game tying goal fourteen minutes into the third period. A shootout win was not in the cards for the Terriers on Saturday night as two straight Mils goals and two straight saves from Millionaires goalie Alex Wakaluk sent the Terriers home with one point salvaged.
Tuesday night saw the Terriers play yet another SJHL early season contender as the undefeated Flin Flon Bombers came into town in a North vs. Sherwood Conference battle. The Terriers once again proved that they are arguably the best team in the SJHL at the moment with a convincing 4-2 win over the Bombers, who were 8-0 coming into Tuesday’s game.
Zak Majkowski and Tayler Thompson led the charge for the Terriers on Tuesday with Majkowski scoring two goals and Thompson distributing the puck with three assists on the night. The Terrier powerplay also continued to roll with a Daylan Gatzke powerplay goal that gave the Terriers powerplay four powerplay goals in the last three games.
The win put the Terriers in first place in the Sherwood Conference standings with a game at hand over the Millionaires. A huge part of the Terriers hot start has been their solid defensive pairings and goaltending, holding opponents to just eighteen goals in nine games. That defense is only looking to get better with WHL player Austin Bourhis joining the lineup and the potential of Yorkton product and Vancouver Giants defenseman John Neibrandt coming back to Yorkton in the coming days.
Tayler Thompson has been happy with the teams start and noted that the additions of two more defensemen will only add to the strength of their defensive core. Thompson was also happy with his teammates play over the weekend saying, “Obviously Melville knocked us out last year and it was a tough pill to swallow, and we have made some adjustments from last year and added some new guys and really wanted to show that we aren’t the same team as last year.”
The Terriers still have games at hand over the Millionaires after playing a slightly less busy schedule, making the next two weeks crucial as the Terriers see an increase in action. Thursday night sees the Terriers go on the road to Melfort before hosting the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Saturday night as part of La Ronge’s Sherwood Conference road trip.
The Terriers then travel to Kindersley and Battlefords next week for a Tuesday/Wednesday road trip before coming home to host Nipawin and Estevan in what will be the last of Terrier home action before they embark on a three week long road trip.
Thompson mentioned the importance in the next two weeks saying, “We obviously have those two games at hand over Melville and we would like to continue to get some more wins and overtake them in the standings.”
This Terriers squad has shown improvement over the team that suffered an early exit in last year’s playoffs, but the next month is going to be a critical part of their season as they face the daunting task of going nearly a month without a home game.
With three FAA dates left in October the Terriers will be looking to secure maximum points before they head up north on their three week road trip to kick off November.
A solid weekend has the Terriers in first place nearly ten games into their 2012/13 season and at this point we can safely assume that this Terriers squad is going to be a real contender going forward that is not going to go down easily on any night of the schedule.