We got invited to a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League game on the weekend, so we jumped in a mini-bus with 12 new friends to watch the Weyburn Red Wings visit the Yorkton Terriers. The pregame ceremony before Yorkton’s home-opener included raising a commemorative banner for the Humboldt Broncos inscribed with the words, “We play for them.”
Attendance was 954. The rink seemed much bigger decades ago when I refereed games against Yorkton’s archrivals, the Melville Millionaires. It was more crowded in the ’80s when Gerry James, the Terriers’ penny-pinching owner/GM/coach got mad at me, a newspaper writer, for asking how many paid customers were there for a sold-out playoff game. And it differed from that August day in 2012, when hundreds of fans posed for pictures with the Los Angeles Kings’ Jarret Stoll, who brought the Stanley Cup to the arena where he played minor hockey.
The game was entertaining, punctuated by great goals and a fight. The visiting players got taunted as they surrendered a 3-2 lead and lost 5-3. The Terriers shared their first victory of the season afterwards with a meet-and-greet, autograph session in the lobby. It felt like home.