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Kings Swept Aside by Stampeders

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History was made in Dauphin Friday night, as the Swan Valley Stampeders advanced to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s semifinal round for just the third time in their 20-year history.
With a come-from-behind 7-5 triumph over the Dauphin Kings, the Stampeders did something they have never done before – win a best-of-seven series 4-0. With the sweep, the Stampeders join the No. 1-ranked Portage Terriers – who swept the Waywayseecapo Wolverines – as the first two teams to advance to the league’s final four.
“It’s very exciting – our guys worked hard and deserve it for sure,” said Stampeders head coach Barry Wolff. “It’s great for the community and everyone who’s supported them over the 20 years. Hopefully we can keep this going.”
Outside the first period of the first game, the Stampeders have been seemingly in control of this series. But that wasn’t the case Friday, as the Kings played like a team with their backs to the wall, taking period leads of 2-1 and 4-3 as they attempted to stretch the series to at least a fifth game.
But the Stampeders would hear nothing of the sort. The visitors out-scored the Kings 4-1 in the final frame – including an empty-netter – to clinch the series.
“I don’t think we were surprised how hard they came at us,” said Wolff. “They did that all year.
“They played as hard in this series, and they kept coming. And, in Game 4 in their building, they had a great crowd who seemed to give them that extra push.”
Wolff said his team did their best to weather the storm and stick to the game plan, which paid off in the third period.
Luverne, Minn. native Kasyn Kruse kept his hot hand going in Game 4, scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals in the third period to lift the Stamps to victory. His five goals in four games led the team in scoring, a remarkable feat for a player who had just eight goals in all of the regular season.
“Everyone knows they’re going to try and key on players like Tripp, Goethals and Osadick,” said Wolff. “That’s when you need your other guys to step up. And Kasyn has done that. He’s worked hard, gone to the net, and got on loose pucks. It’s a credit to him and we hope he keeps doing that.”
Matthew Osadick had the empty netter to seal the win, while Alexander Uryga (the team’s second-leading playoff scorer) opened the scoring in the third period, putting the Stamps back on even terms for the first time since early in the first period. Dauphin’s Carter Sawchuk had a power-play goal following Uryga to momentarily put the Kings back up 5-4.
Swan Valley actually opened the scoring in the game – and they did it quickly, as they have done for much of the post-season. Brady Goethals fired a laser just 32 seconds into the period, and it was off to the races for the Stamps – or so it would seem.
The Kings rallied and scored the next three goals – including first-period markers by Eamonn Miller and Cole DeKoninck to take a 2-1 lead into the dressing room. Dauphin’s Avery Smith scored four minutes into the second period, and with a 3-1 lead the Kings seemed in control of the game.
But lest we forget the Stamps have long relied on their scoring prowess to get them back in games, and that was the case Friday night in Dauphin as they scored six of the last eight goals – including second period markers by Josh Tripp and Tucker Scantlebury to tie the game 3-3. The Kings retook the lead before the end of the frame as Nakodan Greyeyes found the back of the net to give the Kings a 4-3 edge after 40 minutes. Clearly it would not hold up.
Bryan Landsberger made 43 saves while taking the loss for the Kings, while Merek Pipes kicked out 36 saves to earn the win for the Stampeders.
The Stampeders were 0-for-3 on the man advantage, while the Kings were 3-for-6.
Stampeders 5, Kings 3
Some say the third game of a best-of-seven series is the most important. For a team down 2-0 series, it’s almost a must-win. For a team up 2-0, it’s a chance to put a stranglehold on the series.
And that’s exactly what the Stampeders did at home last Wednesday. It was another quick-strike assault by Swan Valley, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead and basically traded goals with the Kings on their way to a 5-3 victory and a 3-0 series lead.
Brian Harris started things off 67 seconds into the game as he tipped a point shot from Quintin Sudom for the quick 1-0 lead. Bradly Goethals made it 2-0, 1:45 later as he snapped a wrist shot short side on a great pass from the corner by Harris, and the Stamps were off to the races.
Dauphin three times cut the lead to one goal, but each time Swan Valley responded in kind, never letting their rivals to the south even the score. Dauphin’s Riley Shamray cut the lead to 2-1 seven minutes into the game, only for Swan Valley’s Campbell Balk to make it 3-1. Cole DeKoninck scored late in the first for the Kings to make the score 3-2 after 20 minutes, only for Josh Tripp of the Stamps to get the first goal of the second period.
Mattie Boonstra from the Kings cut the lead to one goal a third time in the second, but sure as day turns into night, the Stamps once again restored their two-goal lead as Matthew Osadick put home his first of the post-season to leave the score 5-3 after 40 minutes. That score would hold up, as neither team found the back of the net in the final frame.
Merek Pipes ended up with 22 saves to pick up his third win in as many starts for the Stampeders. Bryan Landsberger made 41 saves to take the loss – and keep his team in the contest. That was especially true in the first as he faced 22 shots alone in the first 20 minutes.
Both teams scored twice with the man advantage – Dauphin had five opportunities, while Swan Valley enjoyed six.
Stamps stuff
Swan Valley’s penalty kill was just 75 per cent effective in the first round. Their power-play was even worse, operating at just 16.7 per cent efficiency against the Kings, who scored 25 per cent of the time. Of course, the Stamps swept the Kings, so maybe statistics are not everything … Swan Valley lost Captain Jaden Townsend to a broken leg in Game 3. “That hurts when you lose your captain – he’s a heart and soul type player. We’ll miss him, but have to move forward,” said Wolff … Finishing early allowed Wolff to focus on the other two series’ that were still under way – Steinbach vs. Winnipeg and Selkirk vs. Virden. “If the games were closer I’d go watch live, but for now we’ll watch the games online and prepare for the next round,” said the Stamps head coach. “And hopefully for us, both series draws out a bit and tires them out.” … Sunday night the Virden Oil Capitals advanced to the second round by defeating the Selkirk Steelers 3-2, winning their series 4-2 ... The other series was headed to Game 6 yesterday as the Winnipeg Blues won two straight against the Steinbach Pistons after falling behind 3-0 in that series. If the Pistons win this series they’ll face the Stamps in the second round. If the Blues manage to come all the way back and win, they will face the Terriers next round, while the Stamps would face Virden. Results were not available at press time. Keep an eye on both the Stampeders and the Star and Times social media for updates.

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Derek Holtom
REPORTER
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