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Grande Prairie 2 at St. Albert 4 (Saints win 4-1)
The St. Albert Saints put little doubt in the minds of Grande Prairie Storm players and fans that this would be their last game of the season early on in the first period as they exploded for three quick goals out of the gate.
The Saints were flying in front of their home crowd at Akinsdale Arena and struck for a quick goal 37 seconds in. Joey Bastien scored, assisted by Pavel Beranek and Ron Grimard on the powerplay. It would be the only powerplay opportunity the club would get that period so, to capitalize on a chance like that was a definite boost to both the home crowd and the team. The club carried that momentum and four minutes later made it 2-0 on Bastien’s second of the game, also from Beranek and Grimard. The Storm had yet to score more than two goals in a game against the Saints in this series and players on both teams knew it. Only three minutes after that, Beranek, Bastien and Grimard combined again to put the club up by three. This was enough to chase the Storm’s Chad Rycroft from the nets on this night. Despite his inspired play in the playoffs to this point, he was unable to stop the Saints on this night as they peppered 11 shots at him in under eight minutes.
From then on, the Saints played a sound defensive game while the Storm were continually frustrated by the incredible play of Saints netminder and future Wisconsin Badger Scott Kabotoff. Despite outshooting St. Albert 15-8 in the middle frame, it was the Saints who would score again to make it 4-0. Rob Ziemmer scored the goal with 46 seconds left on the clock.
In the third period, the Storm wouldn’t quit. They continued to use Kabotoff as a shooting gallery and wound up taking 16 shots on him. Kabotoff was good on some shots and spectacular on most as did his best to quell any thoughts the Storm may have on a four-goal comeback. The Storm eventually did find a dent in his armour, however, as Lonnie DeHaan ripped a shot by him with just over two minutes left in the game. Storm captain Mike Mohr then scored with slightly over a minute left on a deflected shot from the point but it was far too little, far too late for Grande Prairie. On the back of Ron Grimard’s four-point night, Joey Bastien and Pavel Beranek’s three-point night and, most importantly, Scott Kabotoff’s 40 saves, the St. Albert Saints advanced to the next round to face the winner of the Fort Saskatchewan-Lloydminster series.
Lloydminster 5 at Fort Saskatchewan 3
The momentum in this series has unquestionably shifted. After breaking out to a 2-0 series lead on Lloydminster, the Blazers have come storming back to tie the series at two. On this night the Blazers, much like the Saints, broke out to an early seemingly insurmountable lead after the first period and did their part in quieting a noisy SRO crowd of 1150 at Jubilee Rec Centre in “The Fort.” 1:15 into the game, Scott Pratt scored his third of the playoffs unassisted. Not even half a minute later, however, the Traders were given a powerplay opportunity and did not waste any time capitalizing. Matt Gormon scored the goal, from Nick Deschenes at 1:44. After that the period would be all Lloydminster, however. Pratt got his second of the game and fourth of the playoffs on the powerplay at 5:58, Fraser Filipic got his first point of the post season as he put one past Nick Boucher at 10:11 to make it 3-1, and Travis Barnes added a powerplay marker to make the score 4-1 for Lloyd. Dan Gillbertson brought the Traders to within two in the second period as he scored his first of the playoffs 2:29 in and Ryan Campbell closed the gap to 4-3 after his powerplay goal 4:17 into the third, but that was as close as Fort Saskatchewan would get on this night. Jamie Weiss iced the game for the Blazers in the final three minutes to make the final 5-3. The two teams meet again Sunday in Lloydminster where the Traders hope to regain the momentum they had so much of in the early going.
Camrose 1 at Calgary Canucks 3
The Calgary Canucks continued to roll on with another victory over the Kodiaks tonight and are now one game away from advancing to the AJHL Semi-Finals. The game was actually a very evenly played match and you have to give credit to Camrose for coming into Calgary’s barn and competing as well as they did. The shots were fairly even – 28-25 in favour of the home squad – and the result of the game as a whole was in doubt until the very end. After a scoreless first period, Calgary’s Roger Manitowich scored 1:09 into the second, assisted by Moe Halat and Dany Heatley. Ryan Rutz then tied it up for the visiting side about six minutes later, but Dany Heatley put the Canucks up for good with his second shorthanded point of the series in three games with 1:59 left in the second. Early in the third, surprising team leader in playoff points thus far Roger Leonard, added his third tally of the post-season assisted by Drew Norman and netminder Mike Gilhooly. Despite being down by two goals, the Grizzlys could only muster seven shots at Gilhooly in the third period as the Canucks defence took over.
Calgary Royals 6 at Olds 5 (OT)
With their backs against the wall, the Calgary Royals pulled one out of the fire, so to speak, in what has likely been the best series of the playoffs in the AJHL to this point. All but one game has been decided by a goal and two, including this one, has been decided in overtime. After falling behind in the series 2-0, the Royals have clawed back to regain home ice advantage. The Royals’ backs were against the wall at several points in this one, down 3-1 after two periods and goaltender Jamie Iwamoto was assaulted with 52 shots over the course of the evening.
In the first period, Dana Lattery of the Grizzlys scored an unassisted goal to make it 1-0 Olds after one. As has been the pattern in this series, the scoring came fast and furious in the latter periods. In the second, Ben Knopp scored to tie the game at one 1:57 in but Olds regained the lead on a pair of powerplay goals – the first from John Wegenast at 4:56 and the second from Greg Davis at 11:46.
Down 3-1 in the third period, the Calgary Royals fought back, however. Role player Glenn Moore got the ball rolling for the club with 11:37 to go in the period as he scored his first of the playoffs. Scott Meyerhoff then tied the game 12 seconds later and 50 seconds after that, Brad Cruikshank gave Calgary the lead for the first time in the game. It didn’t take long for Olds to snuff out Calgary’s lead, however, as Greg Davis took a Dana Lattery pass and put it behind Jamie Iwamoto three minutes after they went ahead 4-3.
With the game tied 4-4, Brad Olsen scored what looked to be the game-winning goal with 2:27 remaining in the third period.
Unfortunately for Calgary, the Grizzlys had other plans. Down by a goal with less than a minute left, Olds pulled their goaltender Leonid Hryshukevitch for the extra attacker and it paid off. Joel MacAuley came through with his fourth of the playoffs, assisted by Greg Davis and Colen Pappas with a mere 36 seconds showing on the clock. The game was 5-5 and going to overtime.
In the extra period, the action was end-to-end for the most part but Olds had the best chances overall, with 12 shots on goal. The Royals, by contrast, had 6 shots on Hryshukevitch. With one minute remaining in the first overtime period, the Royals made one of their six shots count as Krys Kolanos converted a Ben Knopp pass into the back of the net and rendered the Royals back in the series.
(1) Ron Grimard – Four assists go a long way in disposing of the Grande Prairie Storm.
(2) Jamie Iwamoto – Only played 23 games during the season but is emerging as the Royals’ number one guy in the playoffs. Achieved his second straight win tonight as he turned aside 47 shots.
(3) Scott Pratt – A definite game breaker is showing that he can be the go-to guy for the Blazers in the playoffs.
March 13th – Olds at Calgary Royals, 7:00pm MT
Best-of-seven quarterfinal tied 2-2
March 14th – Calgary Canucks at Camrose, 6:00pm MT
Calgary leads best-of-seven quarterfinal 3-0
March 14th – Fort Saskatchewan at Lloydminster, 7:00pm MT
Best-of-seven quarterfinal tied 2-2