By Mike Stackhouse
The Nipawin Hawks staved off elimination on Friday night, riding Patrick Pugliese’s stellar play in goal and their most complete overall effort of the series in defeating Yorkton 4-1 to force a game six on Sunday back in Yorkton.
The Hawks came out on fire, outshooting the Terriers 15-6 in the first period and beating Ryan Ouellette twice in under a two minute span midway through the opening frame. Jordan Simoneau potted one from in tight and Jaxsen Wiebe charged the net with his second of the series. Branden Klatt got the Terriers within one as he was able to beat Pugliese, in tight, while his team was on the powerplay. A Colby Brandt penalty shot in the third failed to bring the game back to even terms. And, then the back breaking goal came when Carson Erhardt drove hard to the net to pick up his first of the playoffs. Jake Tremblay added an empty netter in what was a 35-shot effort on Ouellette. Pugliese made 22-stops in his first SJHL playoff start and is the likely starter for game six.
The Melfort Mustangs are the first team through to the semi-finals as they edged the Kindersley Klippers 3-2 to win their best of seven series in five games.
Tanner Zentner tied the game at 1 with an early second period goal from a sharp angle near the icing line. Carson Albrecht put the Mustangs ahead for good four minutes after that as he took a drop pass from Zentner and wristed a shot by Justen Close. Justin Ball tacked on the insurance goal midway through the third before the Klippers got to within one when Caden Benson scored with two minutes to go in regulation. Ty Enns had Kindersley’s other goal, scoring three and a half minutes into the game, but the Klippers were unable to build on the early advantage.
Noah Giesbrecht made 33-saves for the win, while Close had 37-stops in his final game of his illustrious SJHL career.
Flin Flon captain Nate Hooper scored two big goals to lead his team to a game six, back at home, against Battlefords.
Hooper ended a marathon affair midway through the third overtime period as the Bombers defeated the North Stars 4-3.
The game and series was looking like it was going to be decided on a long shot goal from just inside the blueline by MacGregor Sinclair, who beat Gabriel Waked for his second of the game to put the Stars ahead 3-2 with just over eight and a half minutes to play.
Flin Flon forced overtime when they got Waked to the bench for an extra attacker and Nate Hooper found some open ice in between the circles and wristed a shot by Joel Grzybowski for his third of the playoffs.
Waked had 55-saves for the win. Grzybowski had 44 for Battlefords in what was a tremendous showing by both netminders.
It was the fourth time in five games that overtime was needed to determine a winner.
Humboldt and Estevan are also headed to game six.
This one didn’t go as long, but still ijt was a significant chunk of extra time as Tanner Manz ended it at 1:43 of the second overtime, giving Estevan a 3-2 win as they overcame a 3-2 deficit.
Early in the third, the Broncos were leading the Bruins 2-1 when ice issues caused a 45-minute delay. It came at an unfortunate time as Turner Ripplinger had gotten the Bruins on the board moments earlier. Fortunately, for Estevan they squared it up late in the third when on the powerplay as they maintained the offensive zone for thirty seconds after Bryson Cecconi was sent off for tripping. Jake Heerspink fired a shot from the middle of the ice, just inside the blueline and through traffic to force overtime.
Grant Boldt made 42-saves for the Bruins, while Rayce Ramsay was good on 46-shots at the other end.