For the Yorkton Terriers to have a chance of getting back on top of the Viterra Division standings, winning Tuesday's home game against the Estevan Bruins was just about a must-win.
The two teams went into Tuesday's action, both with 8 points against each other in seven head to head meetings (Yorkton 4-3-0-0, Estevan 3-2-1-1), which meant the winner of the eighth and final meeting would not only grab two crucial points but also the head-to-head tie-breaker should they end up even in points.
It was a game full of lead changes, but the Terriers (25-22-1-0) hung on for a 6-5 win in regulation, pulling to within two points of the surging Bruins for the division lead, with a game in hand, and the tie-breaker in their back pocket.
A Bruins win would have left them six points up with the tie-breaker, which, with 10 games to go, would have all but locked things up. Now it's a dog fight to the finish.
Chantz Petruic had two goals and two assists to lead Yorkton to the win. Colby Brandt also scored twice while Cody Bruchkowski and Mason Mullaney added the others.
Bryce Platt, Turner Ripplinger and TJ Irey all had a goal and an assist for the Bruins (25-21-2-1), while Tyson Manz and Devan Harrison also found the net.
Yorkton opened the scoring, but the Bruins led 3-1, quickly, and 5-4 after two periods before Mullaney and Brandt struck just over a minute apart early in the third.
The Terriers are now tied for 8th overall with Notre Dame, and they're in Battlefords and Kindersley on Friday and Saturday. Estevan has a weekend home and home with Melville.
The Nipawin Hawks now have a double digit lead at the top of the SJHL's Sherwood Division after a 3-2 road win in La Ronge.
The Hawks (34-12-1-2) to a quick 2-0 lead when Brodie Girod and Austen Flaman both scored in the game's first six minutes. Walker Cote widened the spread to 3-0 midway through the second, and it stayed like that until La Ronge leading scorer Zach Bannister scored twice in the third period, once early and again right near the end, giving him 22-goals on the season, which also leads the Ice Wolves (10-37-1-1).
With that Nipawin sits 10 points up on Flin Flon for the Sherwood lead. Nipawin's nine games remaining are two fewer than Flin Flon. The Hawks are also 8 points clear of Kindersley for the league lead, with the Klippers having three games in hand.
The Hawks will now host the Ice Wolves on Saturday, and then Battlefords on Sunday, part of a five game home stand. Before the return match on Saturday, the Ice Wolves open their weekend Friday in Flin Flon.
A pair of games again on Wednesday, one of which sees Battlefords in Melfort. The Stars are tied for fourth overall with Flin Flon, while Melfort sits just one point back with a shot to jump into 4th themselves with a regulation win. Humboldt has a divisional matchup in Notre Dame. The Broncos and Hounds go into action in 7th and 8th respectively, but Humboldt sits just one point out of 6th, two back of the 4th place tie.
The regular season wraps up exactly one month from tonight.