Kenneth Brown
of The Clarion

The Iron Horse Kindersley Klippers are in the home stretch of the regular season, and they are still leading their division after a successful road trip.

Kindersley played four road games over a span of five days last week in eastern Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League road trip included two back-to-back situations, but it was a strange trip because the Klippers only played two teams and they did not play either team twice in a row.

The opponents were the Yorkton Terriers and Melville Millionaires, and the Klippers won three out of the four games. Kindersley beat Yorkton 4-3 on Jan. 28 before taking a 6-3 loss in Melville on Jan. 29. Kindersley had a day off on Thursday before winning 4-2 on Feb. 1 in Yorkton and 4-1 on Feb. 2 in Melville.

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Kindersley’s goals in the 4-3 win were scored by Blake Kleiner, Austin Nault, Tyler Traptow and Devon Cyr. Traptow’s goal in the third period put Kindersley up 4-1, but Yorkton clawed back getting their third goal with about a minute to go and the extra attacker on the ice. The Klippers had 42 shots and Yorkton had 43 shots, but goalie Zack Johnson stopped 40 of 43 shots to keep the Klippers ahead.

The team’s three goals in the 6-3 loss were scored by Kleiner, Nault and Cameron Shorrock. The team rebounded on Friday with the 4-2 win in Yorkton and the goal scorers for Kindersley were Steven Avalone, who added an assist, Ty Enns and Cyr with a pair of goals.

Justen Close took the loss in Melville while stopping 21 of 25 shots he faced, but he picked up the win in Yorkton on Friday and he stopped 20 of 22 shots. Johnson was back in net for the 4-1 win in Melville, and he stopped 23 of 24 shots.

Kindersley’s goals in the Melville win were scored by Traptow, Kyle Bosh, Brendon Borbely and Caden Benson. Josh Fletcher and Kleiner each had a pair of assists in the game. Kindersley was winning 1-0 after 20 minutes and Melville scored early in the second, but Kindersley scored three straight goals before the period ended.

The Klippers have an overall record of 29-12-3-2 this season. The team sits in first in the Global Ag Risk Solutions division and in second overall with 63 points. The Klippers are two points ahead of the Battlefords North Stars in the division.

There were 76 minutes in penalties handed out in the win in Melville on Saturday, and two of Kindersley’s top scorers combined for 27 penalty minutes. Fletcher took a five-minute major for fighting, and all fighting majors come with 10-minute game misconduct penalties and an automatic ejection. Enns, who is averaging 1.27 points per game in 22 games since joining the Klippers, got two minutes for diving and a 10-minute gross misconduct penalty.

Coach Clayton Jardine said Enns did not agree with the penalty for diving and he took out his frustrations by throwing a water bottle in the penalty box. The referee took exception to the situation, and Enns was sent to the showers.

The referee just saw water all over the glass and reacted with the call, but the coach said there were other people who disagreed with the initial diving penalty. He said he talked to the league office on Monday and Enns will not receive any additional discipline for his actions.

Melville played three games in four nights, but they were all home games, according to Jardine. He said the Millionaires lost big to the North Stars on Friday, so it made for a feisty environment with emotions and frustrations boiling over from previous nights.

He noted that it was a long road trip and the team only got back to Kindersley on Sunday at 5 a.m. He said the loss in Melville could be attributed to a combination of things, but the Millionaires played well and he gave them credit for the win.

Jardine said the team is one of the best in the league and the idea that all teams really want to beat the Klippers due to their place in the standings is still eluding players, so the team has to keep it in mind every night. Close played well, but things did not go well for the team, he said. Still, it was a good road trip.

“Three of four is obviously nice,” the coach said, recognizing that three wins on the road over four games in five nights is a good result even though it stings to lose to a low-ranked team such as Melville. “Overall, we were happy.”