With less than two weeks to go in the season, the Big Six Hockey League's playoff picture is starting to look clearer, and in the lone game on Thursday night, that picture would either be solidified with a win for the Yellow Grass Wheat Kings, or become all the more confusing if the Cougars took the two points.
Starting with the Wheat Kings, they came into this, their second to last game of the season, with 26 points and a four point lead over the Redvers Rockets, as well as holding the tiebreaker. With three games left, the Rockets would need to win all three of them, as well as for the Wheat Kings to lose both this and their next game.
As for the Cougars, this is their third to last game sitting at 20 points, tied with Carnduff. The Cougars are out of the running for first, but a second place bid wouldn't be out of the question, but wins would be what they need.
In the last meeting between these two teams, the Wheat Kings thumped the Cougars 10-1.
Starting in the third period, just over two minutes in, the Wheat Kings would get started almost immediately. A scramble front of Landon Audet would make the puck squirt out towards the top of the circle and Troy Miller would scoop it up, firing the puck over the blocker of Audet for the game's first goal.
A second goal would come again quite soon on the power play, when Drew Fellner would get the puck at the point and take a look at the net before sending a pass right through the slot to Braden Mellon, and he'd get an easy one timer to put the Wheat Kings up by two.
The period would continue on until the last three minutes when the Cougars would fire back, another scramble in front of the net but this time in Tanner Erickson and Jacob Chalus would pit the rebound in and bring it back to a one goal game.
After 1: 2-1 Yellow Grass
In the second, the Cougars would start to fall apart as the Wheat Kings started a tear starting with Tucker Neuberger. He would get a loose puck at the top of the circles once more, similar to Miller's goal at the start, and his team wouldn't stop there.
Devin Cobbold would get control of the puck in his own zone and wheel up the right side of the ice around his defender, taking it in on his forehand and head faking the shot before tucking the puck around Audet's outstretched pad on the backhand.
The final goal of the period would again go to the Wheat Kings on a two on one. Miller brought the puck down the right side and waited for the defending Cougar to dive to block the passing lane, causing Miller to put on the brakes to open the passing lane back up and send a smooth feed to Justin Richter.
Cougar's goalie Landon Audet seemed to be in some discomfort towards the end of the period, and would end his night after two periods of play.
After 2: 5-1 Yellow Grass
The third would start similar to the first, a fairly quick goal from the home team. After cycling the puck in the Cougar's zone, Reid Patterson would find the puck on his stick to the left of Audet's replacement Kruz Wilson, and Wilson couldn't make the glove save off the rebound shot.
The Cougars would push back for the first time since the first however when Cooper Fox finally got his chance to bury one off a shot from the side boards that was tipped off a defender's stick and passed Erickson.
Play would go back and forth between the two teams before a power play near the end of game for the Wheat Kings that Jesse Watson would blast a slapshot in off the cross bar.
Moments later, Brendan Vertefeuille added the cherry on top of an impressive win with a tip in goal.
FINAL SCORE: Yellow Grass 8 - 2 Carlyle
The win secures first place in the league for the Wheat Kings while they have one lone game left this season with the Kipling/Windthorst Oil Kings. Yellow Grass also defends their unbeaten streak at home, having not lost a single game on their ice all season. Tanner Erickson has won each and everyone of his games he's played the season.
For the Cougars, the loss makes it much more difficult to for their second place bid. They now only have two games left while Carnduff and Redvers both have three.