Skip to content

Terrier 50th: Terriers trampled in ‘Stang stampede

Week #15 comes from May 15, 1996.
Despite it being a semi-final game for the Royal Bank Cup, the Yorkton Terriers couldn’t find a way to defeat the Melfort Mustangs, losing 7-3.

YORKTON - The Yorkton Junior Terriers are celebrating 50 years in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League this season.

To mark the milestone Yorkton This Week is digging into its archives and pulling out a random Terrier-related article from the past five decades of reporting on the team, and will be running one each week, just as it originally appeared.

This feature will appear weekly over the entire season in the pages of The Marketplace.

Week #15 comes from May 15, 1996.


Despite it being a semi-final game for the Royal Bank Cup, the Yorkton Terriers couldn’t find a way to defeat the Melfort Mustangs, losing 7-3.

The Mustangs had owned the Terriers heading into Saturday’s contest winning seven of eight games through the final weeks of the regular season, the league championship and a 7-1 win in the opening game of the cup tournament.

“We knew coming in we’d have to play the perfect game,” said Neil Schell of the Terriers. “We had a game plan going in, but like a lot of our games (at the tournament) we didn’t follow it.”

Lee Rusnak, wearing the captain’s C for the Terriers, said his team wasn’t quite ready for the task.

“It’s basically run on emotion and that wasn’t there for our team,” he said.

Goaltender Scott Prekaski said “they have a very hard working team. Sometimes that’s something we have lacked. Sometimes we took a shift or two off.”

Prekaski added the team’s lack of success against Melfort over the course of the season played a role.

“It was in the back of our minds,” he said. “We talked about it, about keeping it out of our minds. We scored the first goal and I thought things looked bright for us there …”

While the Terriers did come out and score the first goal of the game Saturday, a marker by Jamie Standish at the 8:01 mark of the first period, the Mustangs were just too much for the Terriers.

Before the first ended the ‘Stangs had secured a 2-1 lead on goals by Ben Kuep and Travis Stevenson.

“I thought the turning point of the game was our first goal,” said Melfort coach Kevin Dickie.

“Once we got that first goal we seemed to ease up a lot on the bench.”

Schell agreed the late goals took a toll.

“They kind of took the wind out of our sail. It would have been nice to have the lead going into intermission,” he said. “Melfort did a really good job of taking a lot of the momentum away from us.”

Rusnak took the late goals personally.

“We made two mistakes and they capitalized on both. I take full responsibility for letting them lose,” he said.

Melfort realized the Terriers started well.

“Yorkton came our very strong. They wanted to keep the game as close as they could,” said Jason Duda, the Mustangs top scorer through the week.

Terrier coach Lee Odelein liked his team’s early jump, but added the momentum didn’t last.

“We’ve got to give them (Melfort) credit. They’re a very strong team. A very determined team, a very focused team,” he said.

Dave Noel-Bernier, Yorkton’s game star, said it was just a case of the Mustangs being the better team in the game.

“We didn’t play a bad game – but they played a great game,” he said.

The late Mustang marker set the tine for the second period as the Mustangs notched two early powerplay goals by Valeri Ermolov and Duda.

Duda’s goal sent the Terriers’ starting goaltender Kendall Sidoruk, a pick up from the North Battleford North Stars, to the bench in favour of Prekaski.

Coming into the fray was a difficult task for Prekaski.

“It was really such an emotional game,” he said. “On the bench I tried to keep everybody up so I was in it like everybody else.”

Yorkton responded to the changes with Joe Tassone scoring 30 seconds later to draw within two.

Duda however, would add his second of the game at 15:26 to close out the period scoring with the Mustangs up 5-2.

“We’ve got a good defence. Let us get up by three goals and it’s tough to come back,” he said.

In the third the Terriers once again showed an early spark as Rob Kozak scored at 3:42 of the period on the team’s first shot.

But the Terriers would only manage four more shots while the Mustangs would pepper 11 at Prekaski, scoring twice, including another by Duda for a natural hat trick at 8:41. Trevor Blevins rounded out the scoring.

The loss was especially hard since the Terriers had 10 players graduating from the junior ranks.

Rusnak was among the graduates.

“It was my last game. That’s tough to swallow. I’ve been with coach for three years and I feel like I let him down,” he said. “It’s a tough thing to handle right now.”

Prekaski, who agreed to a four-year college scholarship, said there is definitely apprehension for some players.

“I know I have someplace to go. I feel so bad for the guys who aren’t sure where they’re going,” he said.

Dickie said the win over the Terriers wasn’t an emotional one for his team.

“Sure I’m thrilled for the guys to have the opportunity (to play in Sunday’s final), but in the dressing room we didn’t even cheer after the game,” he said. “We have one goal and that is to win a national championship.”

The host Mustangs had their shot Sunday against the Vernon Vipers who made it to the finals by defeating the Newmarket 87s 7-3 in their semi-final contest.

But it wasn’t to be for Melfort who lost Sunday’s Royal Bank Cup final 2-0, sending the Vipers home with the national junior A crown.

As a final wind-up to the Royal Bank Cup, Trent Walford of the Newmarket 87s was named the Canadian Junior A Hockey Player of the Year. Walford, 19, was selected over Serge Bourgeois of the Moncton Gagnon Beavers, and Duda of the Mustangs.


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks