VERNON, B.C. – Derek Falloon could not have asked for a better way to end his junior hockey career Sunday.
Falloon’s goal at 15:01 of overtime sealed the Yorkton Terriers’ first RBC Cup championship with a 4-3 victory over the Carleton Place Canadians. He jammed in a rebound to cap Yorkton’s comeback from a 3-1 deficit with less than three minutes left in regulation time.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s just the best feeling and I don’t think I’ll ever score a bigger goal than that for the rest of my life,” said Falloon, 21, who has used up his junior eligibility.
Falloon’s goal gave the Terriers their first Canadian Junior A championship in their fifth trip to the tournament. Yorkton placed second to the Burnaby Express, led by current Ottawa Senators centre Kyle Turris, in their last trip to the RBC Cup in Streetsville, Ont., in 2006. The Terriers had finished no better than third in their three other trips, all in the 1990s.
The puck barely crossed the line as Carleton Place goaltender Guillaume Therien attempted to cover it. While the crowd waited, the referee confirmed it was a goal.
After trailing 3-1 at the end of the second period, the Terriers forced overtime with goals from Tanner Lishchynsky and Dylan Johnson eight seconds apart in the last three minutes of the third period. Daylan Gatzke had Yorkton’s other goal and Kale Thompson made 31 saves.
Anthony McVeigh, Stephen Baylis and Andy Sturtz scored for the Canadians while Therien stopped 42 shots in the losing effort.
Falloon’s overtime winner was his second of the tournament. He also scored in extra time against Dauphin in the round robin.
“I guess I just happened to be at the right place at the right time,” said Falloon. “I’m sure any of the boys could have (done) it. Lucky me, I guess.”
Falloon missed the first three games of this tournament with his third concussion of the season, suffered in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs. He missed most of the Western Canadian championship tournament, from which Yorkton qualified for the RBC Cup.
Yorkton coach Don Chesney said Falloon’s return brought life to Yorkton’s lineup.
“He has a flair for the dramatic,” said Chesney. “I joked around (saying) his first (overtime goal) didn’t make the back of the net. (The RBC Cup-winning) one, I think, made it – maybe a few inches over the goal-line. But in 10, 20 years, that’ll be the nicest goal he ever scored and the biggest goal he ever scored.”
Johnson also provided some drama as his tying goal, at 17:20 of the third period atoned for an interference penalty he took at 14:05.
“To be honest, when we got that penalty with five minutes left, it was not looking too good, and they shut us down pretty good,” said Chesney. “We didn’t create a lot of high-quality scoring chances.”
Added Johnson: “That (goal) felt great, especially after getting that penalty a couple minutes before that. Getting that goal was unreal. It brought the life back into the fans. After we got that, we knew this was ours.”
Until then, the Canadians had a good reason to think they would claim the crown in their first RBC Cup appearance.
“Looking back on it now, maybe I should have called a timeout after the second goal,” said Carleton Place coach Jason Clarke. “But we’ve just been so resilient all year. Things didn’t really seem to bother us.”
Baylis put the Canadians ahead 2-1 at 4:12 of the second period as he fired a shot from the slot after his teammates fought to keep the puck in at the blue-line along the boards with little space to work with.
Sturtz increased the Carleton Place advantage midway through the second, stealing the puck from a Terrier in one corner and skating to the opposite side to put in a backhand.
But just when it looked like the Canadians could begin to rest easy, Lishchynsky and Johnson sent the game to overtime, setting up Falloon’s special moment.
“We’re proud (of getting to the final), but it’s a sour taste, for sure,” said Clarke.
Falloon received advice from his cousin Pat Falloon, the former NHLer who was drafted second overall by the San Jose Sharks after Eric Lindros in 1991.
“(Pat) was talking to my dad,” said Falloon. “We family-farm with him (in Foxwarren, Man.) We keep in touch with him. He was texting my dad and telling me to keep calm and just do what I can do.”
The RBC Cup adds a second Canadian junior crown to the extended Falloon family. Pat Falloon won a Memorial Cup with the Spokane Chiefs in 1991, when he was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“I’ve heard stories,” said the younger Falloon.
Falloon’s hockey future is far from certain. He only knows how he will spend his summer.
“We’re just going to celebrate, and then I’m going to go back (home),” he said. “I’ve got to get to work on the farm.”
Notes: The game marked the first time in 19 years that the Canadian Junior A final went to overtime. … Los Angeles Kings centre Jarret Stoll sent a congralutory tweet to Yorkton for reaching the final. Stoll grew up in the Yorkton/Melville area… Yorkton assistant coach John Odgers is the son of former NHLer Jeff Odgers.
© The Canadian Press, 2014