First things first. You gotta give the Terriers a lot of credit for their performance last night at the Civic Center. Yorkton was as advertised. Hard working and determined they roll 4 lines that can all contribute and at times in the first half of the game they had the Stars running around their own zone. Between the Stars looking a little heavy in the legs and the Terriers playing well it was not looking good for the Stars winning streak. Tyler Giebel opened the scoring in the first when Woody Klassen blew a tire in the neutral zone. Giebel took advantage skating down the right wing and sniping bar down over the glove of Connor Creech. After the game coach Trent Cassan of the Terriers, who is a grade A good guy and not just cause he made me coffee the other day but mainly because of that, said he didn’t think Giebel had enough room. Well he found just enough to make it 1-0.
With a little luck for the Terriers it could have been 3-0. Twice in the space of 23 seconds the Terriers saw pucks in the back of the net behind Connor Creech. Both times it was after the whistle. The second time the puck was clearly lose but the referee lost sight of the puck and blew it down. I guess when the going is good the luck sometimes goes your way.
The Stars then tied it half way through the first and if I gave you 3 guesses I imagine you would get the name of the goalscorer on the first try. Braeden Johnson and Brett Miller did some great work on the forecheck before Mills found Tatchell in the slot. Tatchell had time to pick his spot. I think you know what happened after that. I still don’t know where the puck was after it went in the net. I never saw it. Neither did Kale Thomson in the Terriers goal. Tatchell’s 30th of the season made it 1-1. But that was very much against the run of the play and the Terriers deserved to have a lead.
Less than 2 minutes after the Stars scored the Terriers had the lead back. Ryne Keller’s line was running around in it’s own zone and eventually not being able to clear the puck cost the Stars. A point shot off the end boards richocheted out the other side and right to Brent Struble and made no mistake on his backhand. Sam Rockwell and Brady Norrish picked up the assists.
Despite the Stars sluggish play in the first they did have some chances in the period. Boyd Wakelin’s line had a couple good physical shifts without being able to create a goal. Roger Tagoona was getting chances, more on that later, and he had a great chance in the first when he was set up in the slot and his one timer went off the heal of his stick and slid wide. That chance came 38 seconds after Brett Miller’s one timer in the slot had hit the post. So while the Terriers were outplaying the Stars it wasn’t all one way traffic.
In the second period Braeden Johnson’s parade to the penalty box continued and the Terriers capitalized. A shot threw traffic eluded Connor Creech. That was maybe the only goal that Creech had a chance to stop and he would tell you he probably should have had it. It did seem like Creecher was fighting the puck a little last night but give him a tonne of credit. He shut the door big time after it was 3-1 with 18:34 left in the second frame. The Stars slowly started to get back into the game after that. Kyle Hall had a good chance less than two minutes after the Terriers made it a two goal spread. Tanner Schwab just barely missed on the rebound at the side of the net.
A good shift from Tatchell’s line eventually led to Ryne Keller drawing a tripping penalty. But the Stars PP was unable to strike. Later in the frame was the CJNB turning point. The Terriers somehow found themselves with a potential 2-0 as they carried the puck threw the neutral zone. But a combination of an outrageously good back check by Boyd Wakelin and a stellar save by Connor Creech kept the score at 3-1. The crowd roared their appreciation for Wakes hustle and after that the Stars started coming on.
They weren’t able to score a goal in the second frame but the signs pointed towards a fantastic third period. And that’s exactly what we got. The final frame saw the Stars taking it to the Terriers in part because, as Trent Cassan said after the game, his team retreated into a shell a little bit. They started dumping pucks in when they could have carried them into the zone. The Stars pressure paid off when a long point shot threw traffic hit the post. The rebound went right to Roger Tagoona who finally buried a chance. He celebrated like a player who had missed a couple of chances previously. I wrote in my notes “game on” and turned to Trent Cey and Matty Ryan and said, “Yorkton did not want to see that goal go in with so much time left”. The Stars had 14:53 left to try and tie the game.
Yorkton took a time out less than a minute later to settle their troops and try to get back to what was working so well earlier in the game. It almost worked as Connor Creech was forced to make a very good save with 13:05 remaining in the game. After several chances the Stars finally did tie the game. And the goal scorer should be no surprise. Boyd Wakelin scores big goals all the time. He tied it with 7:10 left in the third. The Terriers had one last great chance to win the game. Roger Tagoona failed to clear the puck and Creech had to bail him out. After the puck was covered up and the whistle went Gooner looked to the ceiling as he knew he had dodged a bullet.
In over time both teams had chances, which is usually the case during 4 on 4 play, and the best chance to win the game seemed to fall to Nathan Murray when he went in all alone on Connor Creech. But Ryne Keller was hastling Murray from behind and took what seemed like a pretty weak slashing penalty. Creech made the save and so the Stars would be short handed in over time. A 4 on 3 chance for the Terriers to win the game. There was 2:14 left in the OT period at that point so you figured the Stars would just have to try and get the game to a shootout.
Blake Tatchell had other ideas. He came out to take the face off and lost it. But moments later Tatchell was able to pressure the point man, steal the puck and the next thing you know Tatchell is on a breakaway of his own. Is there any doubt what happened next? Tatchell deked the goalie and slid the puck home for the game winning “Gino”. The Stars players poured off the bench to celebrate. You gotta feel for Yorkton but they did play pretty well and get a point against the league’s top team.
After the game the Stars players were all saying that they felt like they needed to find a way to win the game to prove to themselves that they have what it takes to compete for a championship. They were able to dig deep and work their way back into the game. They showed great fight in the game and won despite not playing the better part of the first two periods. I am sure the fans enjoyed that win as much as any of the 12 wins in the current streak.
So next up for the Stars will be Weyburn tomorrow night at the Civic Center. That’s the top two teams in the SJHL doing battle. I really hope the crowd is bigger than it was last night. It’s a tough time of the year with family commitments and staff Christmas parties and things of that nature. But this is going to be an outstanding match up. The Stars are in the midst of a stretch where they play Yorkton, Weyburn, La Ronge, Humboldt (twice) and Flin Flon. The Terriers put up a heck of a fight. And it’s not going to get any easier.
Will the Stars make is a baker’s dozen tomorrow night? I will see you at the Civic Center to find out.