Skip to content

'Resilient' Terriers cap stellar season with win, ready for playoffs

'The boys played really well this season and we hope to keep building on that in the playoffs,' says Terriers' captain; Orillia to play Huntsville in first round

The McLean & Dickey Orillia Terriers wrapped up their 2023/24 season on Saturday night with a 6-1 win over the Midland Flyers.

The Terriers finished the season with 29-10-1-2 record, placing them third in the North Carruthers Division. It's the best finish for the squad in the Jr. C era.

Terriers' coach Dalyn Telford says he's proud of his team and how they played this season.

"It was our goal to win our division," he said. "That didn't happen, but it wasn't for a lack of effort."

Terriers' captain Dylan Palomaki says it was a good year for the local club.

"We had the most wins in Terriers' history," he said. "The boys played really well this season and we hope to keep building on that in the playoffs."  

Despite placing behind the first-place Alliston Hornets and the second-place Stayner Siskins in the standings, Telford says it was a successful season for the Terriers.

"We had a winning record against Stayner and (fourth-placed) Schomberg," he said. "We played Alliston tight in every single game and in the five times we played them those games could have gone either way."

Palomaki says the Terriers proved they are of the same calibre of a team as the Hornets and Siskins this season.

"Every time we came up short to Alliston this year, we were just one bounce away," he said. "I'm looking forward to hopefully being matched up with them again in the playoffs."

Unlike some of the other top teams in the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL), the Terriers do not roster any players who have Jr. A experience. 

"We are right there with those teams night in and night out," Telford said. "That's 100 per cent credit to our players, the work ethic they put in, and the belief they have in themselves."

While the Terriers don't have the most skilled players in the league, Telford says they live by the motto, "Don't allow our ourselves to get outworked."

"As long as the belief is there and the work ethic is there, we give ourselves a chance to win," he said. "We have really good character kids who get along and play for each other. That goes a long way."

Palomaki agrees, stresses the Terriers' most important ingredient is work ethic and teamwork.

"We play really well together," he said. "We are a resilient group that just doesn't quit."

This season, the Terriers only played one game with all their starters in the lineup. Injuries presented the team with a great deal of adversity.

"That's tough," Telford said. "When one guy went down, someone else stepped up. Credit goes to our group for the record that we have."

For the first time all year, Palomaki says the Terriers are fully healthy heading into the playoffs.

"We fought through the injury-related challenges all year," he said. "We are excited to have everyone at full health headed into the playoffs."

Out of the 61 teams in the PJHL, the Terriers spent the least amount of time in the penalty box this season.

"If you spend more time with the man advantage than the disadvantage, things will typically go your way," Telford said. "We don't put ourselves behind the eight ball with penalties."

Palomaki says the Terriers' lack of penalty minutes was no fluke this season. 

"We always want to play a disciplined game," he said. "Staying out of the box as often as we did is definitely by design."

The Terriers also finished within the top ten in goals against this season.  

"We play good defensive hockey where all six guys on the ice are on the same page," Telford said. "We (are) very stingy defensively and our guys have really bought into being good in our own end of the ice."

Palomaki gives credit to his goaltenders Aiden Jerry and Brody Pritchard for holding opponents to an average of 2.21 goals a game. 

"We are lucky to have two great goaltenders," he said. "We always try to play well defensively in front of them and spend more time in the other end of the rink."  

The Terriers will start the first round of the playoffs on Tuesday, hosting Huntsville at Orillia's Rotary Place at 7:50 p.m.

"Huntsville works hard and they are very physical," Telford said. "We have to stay disciplined and true to our systems."

Telford says the Otters' game plan will be to "pound" the Terriers.

"If we fall into that trap and engage with that, we will be in trouble," he said. "We have to play our own game, trust our own systems, and play how we play."

Palomaki says he's also expecting the Otters to play "rough" when they visit Orillia on Tuesday.

"They are a very physical team," he said. "They have a couple of big guys who like to throw the body. We have to stay out of the box and avoid injuries."

The Terriers were 5-1 versus Huntsville this season, but Telford says that "doesn't mean anything."

"Throw the stats out from our games against Huntsville in the regular season," he said. "We have to take it one period at a time moving forward."

The Terriers have never made it past the second round in the Jr. C era.

"We just have to keep chipping away," Palomaki said. "We have to take it one game at a time and keep focused on what's in front of us."

Terriers’ forwards Mason Beck and Noah Mountain will age out at the end of the playoffs and won't be able to return to the team next year. The same goes for defenceman Lucas Wessinger.

"We want to give these guys one last ride," Palomaki said. "We want to go deep in the playoffs for them and we will be playing every shift for those guys."

Here is the full Terriers schedule for the first round of the playoffs: 

  • Game 1 - Tuesday, February 27 - 7:50 p.m. at the Orillia Rotary Place
  • Game 2 - Friday, March 1 - 7:30 p.m. in Huntsville
  • Game 3 - Saturday, March 2 - 7:30 p.m. at the Orillia Rotary Place
  • Game 4 - Friday, March 8 - 7:30 p.m. in Huntsville
  • Game 5 (if necessary) - Saturday, March 9 - 7:30 p.m. at the Orillia Rotary Place
  • Game 6 (if necessary) - Sunday, March 10 - 2:30 p.m. in Huntsville
  • Game 7 (if necessary) - Monday, March 11 - 7 p.m. at the Orillia Rotary Place


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
Read more