Yellowknifer’s goal puts team at top of Sask. hockey league

Yellowknifer’s goal puts team at top of Sask. hockey league
Yellowknife’s Devin Case came back from a knee injury to score the winning goal in an overtime shootout against the Weyburn Redwings on the weekend, putting his team in first place in their division going into the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs.Photo: Jamac Publishing.

For most teams, two out of three wins ain’t bad, but for the Kindersley Klippers two out of three wins continue to define what has been a spectacular season to date.

Backed by the spectacular goaltending of Evan Weninger and the largest home crowd of the season, the Kindersley Klippers nipped the Melfort Mustangs 3-2 in a shootout Feb. 21 at the West Central Events Centre in Kindersley. In another shootout a week later at home, the Klippers defeated the Weyburn Red Wings 4-3 to claim first place in their division.

“Evan had two really fantastic saves during a sequence near the end of the second period,” coach Rockie Zinger said of the Melfort contest. “He also did well in the shootout stopping their two shooters.”

If season long trends were to persist, a league final involving these two teams would be exciting. Melfort and Kindersley are one-two respectively in the 12-team league.
“In talking to the Melfort coach, we both agreed fans will continue to see some great hockey,” Zinger said. “The way the playoffs are set up, both teams would have to make it to the league final for them to play each other again this season.”

Being able to come back from deficits is something this team takes pride in, according to team captain Shaun MacPherson of Fort Smith, NWT. Kindersley overcame a 1-0 deficit early in the Melfort contest.

“We have a lot of 20 year-olds on this team that keep the other guys calm and focused,” MacPherson said. “We have to stay on top of our games mentally and not lose focus in any situation.”

This most recent win gives Kindersley two wins in the season series with Melfort. The Mustangs drew first blood in the season with a 2-1 shootout win on Oct. 31 followed by a Klipper 2-1 overtime victory on Nov. 29.

“It was a great game,” MacPherson continued. “We had a playoff atmosphere with a really big crowd.

“I don’t want the same mistake to happen again, where like last year we lost first place in the last few games of the season. It should not happen this time.”

Devin Case of Yk nabs winning goal

And it didn’t, thanks to a little help from the North. After losing to Notre Dame on Friday night at home, the Klippers bounced back to beat Weyburn on Saturday.

The game marked a big comeback night for Yellowknife’s Devin Case. Out since mid January with a dislocated knee cap, Case scored the winning shootout goal against Weyburn Saturday night.

“I was the third shooter for our team and nobody on either side had scored up to that point,” Case said. “I watched our first two shooters and the Weyburn goalie seemed to be taking away the blocker side.

“So what I did was go in on him really fast, slow down and put a high one past him just out of his glove’s reach.”

Zinger spoke highly of Case’s performance to date.

“We are really glad to have him back,” Zinger said. “You definitely know when Devin is not in the lineup, that’s for sure.”

The team has played well over the course of the season and their record reflects that, Zinger said.

“We never lost more than two games together,” he said. “We have had that kind of consistency throughout the season to get us to where we are now.”

The Klippers’ last game of the season will take place at home on Tuesday, Mar. 2 against the Battlefords’ North Stars. After that game, the team is off for approximately 10 days before the playoffs.

“We could be playing against Battlefords, Weyburn or Humboldt in our first round of playoffs,” Zinger said Sunday. “That won’t be known until after the survivor series those teams have to play are completed. The break will be good for our guys to rest up and get healthy for the games ahead.”

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