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 #14 comes from March 3, 1993
For Tim Slukynsky, being superstitious has its advantages.
The 19-year-old forward with the Terriers has certain rituals he carries out without fail on game day.
The favourite is setting out from his house an hour before he has to get to the rink. He takes the same route every time but it’s a long, circuitous one that takes him 20 minutes, rather than the five it should actually take him.
He isn’t sure if it helps but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Ranked second in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for points, Slukynsky has 88 points in 58 games, including 46 goals and 42 assists.
He has a hard time explaining why the goals have been coming to him this year and attributes a lot of it to good fortune.
“I think it seems to be a lot of rebounds. I will be waiting around the net and maybe I will pass it to a defenceman. And they will shoot it on net and the rebound will come out and I will be right there. I think it’s getting lucky and being in the right place at the right time.”
Pretty modest for a player who seems to have a natural instinct for where the puck is and where it is going to go.
“When everything is going good, you don’t really think about it but when you stop (scoring), you change everything. You change the way you tie your skates and tape your stick. I’m very superstitious.”
To Terriers coach and manager Drew Famulak, Slukynsky is just a good hockey player.
“He is a skill guy,” Famulak says. “He is goal scorer and a play maker. It is a split thing.”
But Slukynsky’s success comes from his knack for the game which is augmented by a couple of things.
“One, when he has the puck on his stick, he knows what he is doing, he is always thinking ahead,” Famulak says. “Two, he plays with wingers who give him a lot of ice. He can really wheel the puck when he wants to.”
He has also come a long way as a defensive player.
“When I came here (this year), Timmy was very good offensively and very average defensively … You can ask Timmy. We had a chat the other day. He has learned and committed himself to defence and now he is creating more plays because of it.
“He is as solid two-way player.”
Slukynsky came to the Terriers last year after trying out for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, right out of high school two years ago. Having heard he would be receiving limited ice time, Slukynsky opted to come to Yorkton to play for the Terriers.
Then at the beginning of this year, he was invited to try out for the Medicine Hat Tigers, of the WHL, on the invitation of part Terriers and current Tigers coach Dennis Polonich.
Although he went to the camp, Slukynsky had his reservations.
“It’s tough being a 19-year-old rookie in that league. It is a younger player’s game. For the older players who are 19 or 20 in that league, if you haven’t been drafted to pro-camp, then it seems like you are washed up, almost. It’s tough to fit in when you’re 19.”
Deciding to come back to Yorkton again, Slukynsky opted to play one more year in the SJHL before trying for a university scholarship – a scholarship he has been guaranteed by the University of North Dakota.
However, there is a catch. Because he played in one WHL game, two years ago, he will have to spend next year on the bench. (American universities consider WHL a pro league.)
In some ways, Slukynsky regrets his brief time in the WHL but says in the long run it could work to his advantage.
“In a way I do (regret it), but my first year of university is going to be tough. I haven’t been in school for two years, so if I’m not playing I don’t have to worry about fighting for a spot on the roster. Just practice, concentrate on school and the I still have three more years.”
Growing up in Portage la Prairie, Man., he idolized high scoring forwards Wayne Gretzky and Steve Yzerman and the local junior team (also called the Terriers). He admires not only their skills but their drive as well.
“When you are growing up you dream of playing junior, you idolize those guys. When you are playing junior when you are younger, everything is new to you and you are kind of like a bright-eyed rookie. When you start getting older it may become more like a job. There is less glamour it seems. You’re always on the road, running and skating. But it’s worth it in the long run.”
The weather can also have an affect on him, depending on whether it is a sunny day or a raging blizzard.
“it can work both ways. If there is a blizzard you think of when you were a young kid playing hockey on the outdoor rinks. That was the most fun I have ever had when I was younger, skating around those outdoor rinks, playing shinny with all the guys.
“It sort of brings you back to that. You think what a great day for hockey when it’s snowing out and it’s nice and cold.”