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Terrier's 50th: Face to face with the future

Yorkton This Week is celebrating 50 years of junior hockey in city with stories from its archives on the Yorkton Terriers through the years.
hockey pic oster
In 2000 an injury put Yorkton Terrier Jarrett Oster on crutches and in the stands watching rather than playing.

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 #2 comes from Feb. 19, 2000.

When you’re a hockey player and an injury keeps you off the ice for months, you suddenly have a chance to think.

Sometimes the thoughts become confusing.

With hockey, the thoughts tend to percolate down to what it takes to win on the ice.

But there is life away from the rink, and for Jarrett Oster its that life he has come face to face with since an injury felled him in November.

The injury severed his ACL tendon, requiring doctors in Yorkton Friday to take another tendon from his leg and transplant it to where the damaged ACL had been.

“I’ll get to hobble around for two weeks on crutches and then go to a cane,” said Oster less than 24-hours before his surgery.

Oster admitted he’ll be in for a few more weeks of taking it easy – “they don’t want to re-injure it, or stretch the new tendon” – and that will mean more time to think.

“Rehab will take six, or seven months,” said the winger which fans of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Yorkton Terriers have come to appreciate for his tenacious, go-to-the-wall style.

“If I come back next season, it will be just in time,” he said

Asked about the use of the word “if” Oster – who returned to Winnipeg this week after what he termed Tuesday morning successful surgery – admitted that during the weeks since the injury he has begun to assess whether hockey is critical to his life.

“I’ve been like this for awhile. I was wondering that at the start of this season too,” he said.

“I kind of want to come back, but I’ll be turning 20 and another part of me wants to get other things started.”4On the ice Oster might be viewed as a guy who would eat and breath and sleep hockey, but that’s far from the case. Even his coach, Wade Klippenstein has said he is surprised how Oster seems to turn on a passion for the game once the whistle blows. When the buzzer sounds to end a game, Oster is as happy strumming alternative folk chords on his guitar as he is thinking hockey.

And there’s the question of education that is tugging at Oster.

“I really want to get started in school, but I’m constantly changing my mind on stuff,” he said, admitting that while school pulls him, he has not yet chosen a career path to pursue.

“I have no idea what I would take … Something in radio maybe … or journalism … Something interesting,” he said.

For many players with a talent on the ice, a scholarship to an American college is the route to an education. Oster knows that too is a possibility – but maybe not one he wants.

“The scholarship was always on my mind. I really believe if I came back healthy there’s a good chance of getting one,” he said.

“But I don’t see myself playing there (in college).”

So is Oster ready to walk away from the game? He admits he came close only weeks into the season, having packed his gear and readied himself for a trip home to Winnipeg, but he chose instead to stick it out.

“Two weeks before I got hurt I was ready to quit. Things weren’t going the way I wanted them to. I was fighting every game. I don’t mind standing up for the team, but I was getting myself into lots of trouble. I wasn’t enjoying hockey. You shouldn’t have to go out there thinking who you are going to have to fight next,” he said. “I wasn’t enjoying the atmosphere.”

But things were starting to turn around just as the injury hit.

And once his knee wouldn’t let him play, he learned hockey was something he missed.

“I never knew hockey was life at that point. Then you find your life sort of taken away from you. The guys on the team are your brothers and best friends and they’re taken away from you,” he said.

“You never know how important something is until its taken away from you.”

Oster admits he has missed the hockey, and wonders what he might feel if he quits the game.

“it was tough back in Winnipeg. I’d be getting ready to go out with my friend’s back home and realize it was 6:50 and the guys were going out for warm-ups – that bothered me the most,” he said.

And like a moth drawn to the flame, Oster couldn’t stay too far away from the game.

“I’d call the SJHL hotline to get scores and that would bother me too.”

Then he came back to Yorkton to prepare for Friday’s operation. The longing to be back on the ice heightened.

“It has bothered me most coming back and watching the guys,” he said,

The biggest part of the game missed is not the 60 minutes of action for two points in the standings, but everything that swirls around what the fans see.

“I liked practice where you can goof around with the guys. It’s not necessarily the games, although I wanted to be out there helping the guys out too,” he said.

Ultimately, Oster said his teammates may determine his hockey fate more than himself.

There is a nucleus of talent that could return to the Terrier fold next season, players such as Matt Miller and Kevin Werner. They are also guys who may move on from the SJHL level.

“If they all come back we would have a great club. It would show a lot of guys want the same thing,” said Oster.

Given that scenario, Oster will likely wear the white, orange and black again. If the team goes into total rebuilding mode, Oster could well have played his last game.

“I can’t deal with stuff like that,” he said.

There is a finality to that thought that is not lost on the young man. Even he recognizes that his love for hockey is a complex one.

“When I go out I can play hard, but outside of hockey I don’t consider myself a jock, or a hockey player,” he said.

Yet he also knows he has a knack for the game.

“I believe there are different types of leaders in hockey,” he said. “There’s the rah rah type in the dressing room, or on the ice. I go out there and lead by example.”

Away from hockey Oster has the look of an accountant and the heart of a poet. The poet’s side shown in dreams of playing music.

It’s part of his life that he admits thrives in Yorkton.

“I really haven’t written anything worth while since I was gone,” he said.

“There’s something about the water. I can write really good songs here in Yorkton … As soon as I got back the writer’s block disappeared and I was writing good stuff again.”

Perhaps the words come here because as a folk songwriter Oster relies on adversity for inspiration.

“You write about stuff that is troubling you. It’s an outlet for stress,” he said.

Oster said he plans to cut a CD as soon as possible.

“I could go into a studio right now and do a pretty good seven song CD,” he said. “But I want it perfect in every way.”

So the music waits as he struggles with thoughts of hockey and school.

“Depending on what happens with hockey I want to record this summer,” he said. “But it’s all money too. If I go to school I’ll need money so the recording would likely be put off.”

So Oster waits to see what chapter in his life he may write next. How will his knee respond after surgery? Who will stay with the Terriers? Is education more important than one more year of hockey?

“I talked about all this with a friend back home. I told him I wanted to get to the middle of summer as fast as possible so maybe I have some of the questions answered,” he said.

“There are a lot of questions, but I do have options and I want options.”

Nearing 20, Oster knows the choices become life altering ones.

“It totally makes it harder what decisions I will make,” he said. “Will I make the right decisions? I’m totally excited to see what I choose and where I’ll be down the road.”