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#WHLPlayoffs Roundup: Willms stands tall, Halbgewachs scores in triple overtime to force Game Seven

Robert Murray/WHL

 

Moose Jaw Warriors (3) at Swift Current Broncos (2) — OT
Series tied 3-3
Game 7: Monday, April 16 –  Mosaic Place, Moose Jaw, Sask. – 7:00 p.m. MT

The Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos have given Western Hockey League fans a little bit of everything during their Round Two series in the 2018 WHL Playoffs. Monday, they’ll give them a Game Seven at Mosaic Place in a fitting send-off for the series and a berth for one in the Eastern Conference Championship.

Jayden Halbgewachs (San Jose Sharks) scored 74 seconds into the third overtime Saturday to push their Round Two series the distance, completing an epic comeback when the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy Champions seemed out of it late in Game Six.

Following a scoreless first, the Broncos found the back of the net in the second as Matteo Gennaro was placed perfectly in front of the net to deflect a point shot from Giorgio Estephan, making it 1-0 for the home side.

Things remained separated by a goal into the early stages of the third when Broncos captain Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames) fed Tyler Steenbergen (Arizona Coyotes) with a perfect pass into the slot, which the Sylvan Lake, Alta. product buried for his ninth of the post-season.

While those two goals, coupled with a perfect performance by Stuart Skinner (Edmonton Oilers) up until that point, may have been enough to sink the Warriors through the first five games of the series, they had the resolve to charge back Saturday in a must-win game.

First, 2018 NHL Draft prospect Jett Woo fired a shot from the point that beat a screened Skinner to cut the Broncos’ lead in half. Then, with 8:32 left to play, defenceman Kale Clague (Los Angeles Kings) put the puck on net and with captain Brett Howden (New York Rangers) going hard to the net, he managed to get the puck past Skinner as the net became dislodged. A review eventually confirmed the goal and entered both teams into a deadlock that would last for the next 49:16.

That time would feel like eons to fans and players alike as both Skinner and Warriors’ goaltender Brody Willms went into goalie overdrive mode, stopping all 41 shots through the first two overtimes, some of them miraculous game-saving stops that kept their side alive.

Put on the power play early in the third extra period, Halbgewachs buried the winner, taking the pass across the ice from Clague, skating in and beating Skinner on a perfectly placed shot.

Willms delivered a dominant performance, stopping 58 of 60 shots sent his way, easily a career-high for the Coquitlam, B.C. product when factoring in his WHL career in the regular season and playoffs.

Skinner finished with 35 saves on 38 shots in the loss.

Howden finished with a goal and an assist while both Brayden Burke (Arizona Coyotes) and Clague had a pair of assists in the critical victory.

#WHLPlayoffs schedule for Monday, April 16
Game 7 – Swift Current Broncos at Moose Jaw Warriors – 7:00 p.m. MT (Series tied 3-3)

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