Swift Current Broncos (5) at Lethbridge Hurricanes (1)
Swift Current wins series 4-2
For the first time since 1993, the Swift Current Broncos will compete for the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
Though the Hurricanes scored first, the indicator of success throughout the first five games of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Championship, the Broncos fired back with a trio of goals in 96 seconds during the second period to seize control of the game and the series for good.
Through 20 minutes, it was all Hurricanes, with the shot count showing a 20-2 advantage in favour of the home side and the opening goal from 2018 NHL Draft prospect Calen Addison. Addison took a quick feed from the side boards from Keltie Jeri-Leon and wristed it past Skinner with 3:24 to go in the first period.
From that point on though, the game would belong to the Broncos, who used the second period to guide them to victory.
First, Matteo Gennaro took a pass in the slot from defenceman Artyom Minulin, then spun around and fired a shot on net that seemed to catch Hurricanes’ goaltender Logan Flodell off-guard, beating him to get the Broncos on the board.
Just 29 seconds later, the Broncos were pressing in the zone again. A centring attempt from Tyler Steenbergen (Arizona Coyotes) deflected off the skate of a Hurricanes’ defender and right to Heponiemi, who got off a back-hand move that beat Flodell for the eventual series-winning goal.
Jut 67 seconds after that, the Broncos received more offence, this time from the stick and skates of Beck Malenstyn (Washington Capitals). He took the puck in his own zone, then rushed up ice, cutting around one Hurricanes’ defender, then another before wiring it from an angle past Flodell to make it a two-goal advantage.
The Broncos added to their lead 2:12 into the third, burning the Hurricanes courtesy former captain Giorgio Estephan, who put himself in a similar spot near the edge of the crease, taking a sharp pass this time from captain Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames) for the deflected goal to make the advantage three goals.
Malenstyn’s second of the game came via an empty-net goal, closing out the game as Stuart Skinner stopped 33 of 34 shots for the victory, his first of the series on the road.
Flodell played his heart out during the series, especially at home, but ultimately took the loss in the contest, stopping 22 of 26 shots in the final game of the series.
While Malenstyn had a pair of goals, Gennaro had a goal and an assist and the pair of Minulin and Gawdin each had two assists in the victory. Colby Sissons (New Jersey Devils), Steenbergen, and Kaden Elder also each added a single assist in the victory.
The Broncos will now return home to open the 2018 Rogers WHL Championship Series on Friday, May 4, 2018 (7:00 p.m. MT).
Everett Silvertips (6) at Tri-City Americans (5) – (OT)
Everett wins series 4-2
A comeback for the ages by the Everett Silvertips ended as most comeback stories do, with a victory, but the Silvertips hope there’s now more in store for the U.S. Division and Western Conference Champions.
Defenceman Kevin Davis wired a one-timer past goaltender Patrick Dea 5:58 into the first overtime to elevate the Silvertips to the Rogers WHL Championship Series for the first time since the team’s inaugural season back in 2003-04.
It took many times up and down the ice to reach that stage in the game though.
The game began with Patrick Bajkov (Florida Panthers) scoring his 12th of the post-season to make it 1-0 for the visitors. Morgan Geekie (Carolina Hurricanes) would respond with his 16th goal of the WHL Playoffs to tie up the game minutes later, but a late goal from Bajkov put the Tips ahead by a goal after 20 minutes.
Taking charge in the second were the Americans. Kyle Olson (Anaheim Ducks) and Americans’ captain Michael Rasmussen (Detroit Red Wings) found the back of the net to swing momentum in favour of the home side, making it 3-2. That momentum continued in the third as Olson’s second of the game and Jordan Topping’s fourth of the post-season created a three-goal cushion for the Americans as they pressed to push the game to a seventh-and-deciding game.
That fifth Americans goal seemed to spark the Silvertips, because exactly a minute later, 2018 NHL Draft prospect tallied his ninth of the post-season and the comeback was afoot.
Just 241 seconds later, Kevin Davis had his second of the post-season to pull the ‘Tips within a goal and Garrett Pilon (Washington Capitals) tied up the contest 36 seconds later. For as eventful as the 9:52 span was from the Americans’ fourth goal of the game to the Silvertips’ fifth goal, the remainder of regulation produced nothing on the scoresheet, forcing overtime.
Just 4:48 into overtime, Dylan Coghlan (Vegas Golden Knights) went to the box on a tripping call, setting the stage for the top-ranked Western Conference team to strike, which they did exactly 70 seconds into the man-advantage.
Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) stopped 18 of 23 shots in the victory. Patrick Dea, who had an impressive WHL Playoffs run himself, stopped 36 of 42 shots in the final game of his WHL career.
Davis added an assist for the three-point performance while Pilon and Dewar each had an assist to add to their goal. Captain Matt Fonteyne had three assists to lead the Silvertips while Riley Sutter, Sean Richards, and Wyatte Wylie each picked up a single assist.
Juuso Valimaki (Calgary Flames) had himself a game, potting four assists in the contest while fellow blueliner Jake Bean (Carolina Hurricanes) added a pair of helpers. Roman Kalinichenko added a single assist in the loss.
#WHLPlayoffs schedule for Friday, May 4
Game 1 – Everett Silvertips at Swift Current Broncos – 7:00 p.m. MT (Series tied 0-0)