#WHLPlayoffs Roundup: Estephan provides overtime magic to lift Broncos to 2-0 series lead

David Zammit/Swift Current Broncos


Lethbridge Hurricanes (3) at Swift Current Broncos (4) – (OT)
Swift Current leads series 2-0
Game 3: Tuesday, April 24 – Enmax Centre, Lethbridge, Alta. – 7:00 p.m. MT

The Swift Current Broncos are heading onto the road with a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Championship.

Giorgio Estephan completed his hat trick 9:41 into the first overtime, propelling the Broncos to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory Saturday night in Speedy Creek.

It was all Broncos and all Estephan early on. First, captain Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames) fed Estephan with a pass across just above the crease, which the former Hurricanes’ captain was waiting for to bury up high past Logan Flodell to open the scoring 3:58 into the first.

Just 55 seconds later, Estephan broke out on an odd-man rush with Max Patterson, with the duo passing it back and forth to each other before Giorgio tapped in his second of the game.

The Hurricanes would have a strong response ala Friday’s series opener in the second period, striking for three goals to gain their first lead of the series.

It was the captain starting the scoring as Jordy Bellerive (Pittsburgh Penguins) put the puck on net that appeared to take a deflection, beating Stuart Skinner (Edmonton Oilers) early in the middle period. Nearly 12 minutes passed before the Hurricanes struck again, as rookie Dylan Cozens converted on a penalty shot to even up the game.

Jadon Joseph gave Lethbridge their first lead of the game and the series just shy of three minutes later, entering a late scramble around Skinner’s crease and banging the puck home for his second of the 2018 WHL Playoffs.

The Broncos would own the day though as Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers) tallied in the third period for a second straight game, beating Flodell from a spot similar to his goal Friday night.

In overtime, Estephan sent the fans home happy as the Broncos shook off numerous chances by the Hurricanes, forcing play back into the Hurricanes’ end. Defenceman Sahvan Khaira then put the puck on net through traffic and Estephan got a stick on it to tip it past Flodell for the decisive goal.

Skinner stopped 36 of 39 to once again earn the victory. Flodell stopped 29 of 32 in the narrow loss.

Colby Sissons (New Jersey Devils) had a pair of assists while Heponiemi added an assist to his goal to join Estephan in the multi-point performance crowd for Swift Current. With a goal and an assist, Cozens had the lone multi-point game for the Hurricanes.

Tri-City Americans (5) at Everett Silvertips (3)
Series tied 1-1
Game 3: Monday, April 23 – Toyota Centre, Kennewick, Wash. – 7:05 p.m. PT

We’ve got a series south of the 49th parallel.

Parker AuCoin scored twice and finished with three points while Patrick Dea stopped 37 shots as the Tri-City Americans responded to their first loss of the 2018 WHL Playoffs with a 5-3 win against the Everett Silvertips to even up the Western Conference Championship at a game apiece.

Despite the win, it was the Silvertips who were rolling early. Kevin Davis blasted the puck in on net where Connor Dewar got a stick on it to get it past Dea and captain Matt Fonteyne finished off the play for his fifth of the post-season, giving the home side the all-important first lead.

AuCoin would strike back five minutes later for the away side though, taking a short pass from Juuso Valimaki (Calgary Flames) and beating Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) down low to even up the score. The Silvertips would regain the lead before the first period came to a close as Patrick Bajkov (Florida Panthers) angled the puck off the skate of an Americans’ defender and past Dea for the 2-1 goal.

Jordan Topping helped to even up the score in the second as Isaac Johnson hit the Salt Spring Island product with a perfect pass as he was driving to the net for his third of the post-season. Standing up as the only goal of the second, both teams went to the third period still looking for someone to take charge of the game.

For a 130-second span in the third, it appeared as though both teams still wanted it, but the Americans would be the one who won out in the game. First, AuCoin scored his second of the game, grabbing the puck from behind the next and getting the jump on positioning from Hart, tucking it into the net just past him for the goal to make it 3-2 Americans.

Just 66 seconds later, Garrett Pilon (Washington Capitals) tallied his third of the series, taking a beautiful pass from Fonteyne in the slot and wiring it past Dea to even the score back up at three goals each. Just 64 seconds after Pilon’s tying goal, Maxwell James put the Americans ahead for good, streaking in with the puck and pulling a quick move to bear Hart.

Captain Michael Rasmussen (Detroit Red Wings) put the game out of reach with a empty-net goal, his 12th of the post-season.

Hart would finish with 22 saves in the defeat. The trio of Dylan Coghlan (Vegas Golden Knights), Valimaki, and Johnson each finished with a pair of assists for the Americans in the victory. Davis had a pair of helpers in the loss for the Silvertips.

#WHLPlayoffs schedule for Saturday, April 23
Game 3 – Everett Silvertips at Tri-City Americans – 7:05 p.m. PT (Series tied 1-1)

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