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MJHL Final Now a Best-of-Five

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This MJHL final sure isn’t for the faint of heart.
The Swan Valley Stampeders took their rabid fan base on a roller coaster of emotions Sunday night. But in the end, the Stamps handed the Portage Terriers their first loss of the post season, and more importantly, evened up the best-of-seven final 1-1.
The Stampeders can thank Mr. Clutch Bradly Goethals for making this a best-of-five affair. After blowing a 3-0 lead, the Stamps found themselves down 5-4 late in the third period. Goethals ended up scoring not only the game-tying goal, but a power-play, overtime winner as well as Swan Valley escaped with a 6-5 victory.
“We won the draw and Tripper (Josh Tripp) got it to me at the point,” said Goethals, who improved his point total to 18 points with a three-point night. “I just walked in the middle, and we got a little pick on their guy, and then I faked a shot, went on my forehand, and ripped it high over the blocker. It felt really good.”
This series has started much like the second round did – Swan Valley loses Game 1, and then needs an overtime winner by Goethals in Game 2 to even things. And, while he would obviously love to see entire series repeat itself, he and his teammates are not looking ahead too far.
“We’re just taking it game-by-game here,” said Goethals. “As long as we’re playing our game, working hard, we have a really good chance to win every game. It’s going to come down to who wants it more. And, as long as we want it more, I think we should be OK.”
After being shutout in the opener, the Stamps were keen to get the offense going early in Game 2 Sunday. And boy did they ever.
Swan Valley opened the scoring 6:18 into the game on the power play as Brian Harris batted home a rebound for his second of the playoffs. The Stamps went up 2-0 at the 17:46 mark as Josh Tripp scored his 10th – also on the power-play. Like Harris’ goal, Tripp’s came from getting in tight and burying a quality chance.
The crowd really got rocking 19 seconds later as John Jebamani jumped into the play and scored from a bad angle past an out-of-position Ethan Peterson, which gave the Stamps a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The Terriers turned the tables on the Stamps in the second when Joey Moffatt beat Merek Pipes 4:46 into the period. Orca Wiesblatt followed that up with his second of the post-season at the 7:40 mark, and suddenly the lead was down to one goal.
Swan Valley regained a two-goal lead four minutes later, though, as Alexander Uryga – the reigning player of the month – battled through a check to score a wrap-around goal to make it 4-2 Stamps.
But some penalty trouble by the Stamps allowed Portage to score one more time before the end of the frame, as Chase Brakel blasted a power-play goal from the high slot past Pipes with 1:14 left in the second.
The power-play troubles continued in the third, and the Terriers took advantage of a perhaps questionable tripping call – the sixth straight minor penalty assessed to the Stampeders no less – to tie the game 4-4. Brakel scored his second of the game, a near carbon-copy of his earlier goal, 4:03 into the third to leave things all square with less than a period to play.
Portage grabbed their first lead of the game midway through the third period as captain Ty Barnstable beat Pipes far side, and suddenly a team which once led 3-0 was now trailing.
“Some guys might have been worried, but we tried to keep it calm on the bench,” notes Goethals. “We’ve come back a lot this year, but we shouldn’t have let them back in the game. We got away from the things we were doing in the first period.”
The Stamps then were provided the perfect opportunity to get back in the game as Wiesblatt was assessed a double minor for high sticking, and they made no mistake as a seeing-eye point shot from Bradly Goethals made it past Peterson to tie the game 5-5 with 6:22 left in the third period.
Special teams were huge in this game, with the Stamps going 3-for-7 with the man advantage (including the game winner), while the Terriers went 2-for-6.
Pipes made 33 saves for the win, while Peterson stopped 29 while taking the loss.
Terriers 3, Stampeders 0 (EN)
Swan Valley shut out the Portage Terriers twice in the regular season. So of course, the Terriers chose Game 1 of the MJHL to exact a little shutout revenge as they skated to a 3-0 victory Friday night.
Portage led 1-0 for most of the night, thanks to a deftly-tipped power-play goal by Joey Moffatt early in the first period. And try as they might, the Stamps could not solve Ethan Peterson. Tucker Scantlebury had a great drive to the net only to be denied. A deflected shot flew up in the air, coming down behind Peterson – but not in the net, but on top of it.
Nothing was working for the high-flying Stamps, who were cheered on by a large contingent of fans from the Valley, some of which were in Portage for a hockey tournament.
The score remained 1-0 until the Terriers took advantage of a turnover behind the Stampeder net with 9:55 left in the third period. Chase Brakel fed Ty Barnstable who was all alone in the slot, and he made no mistake for a 2-0 lead. Brakel then added an empty-net goal to seal the deal.
Peterson made 34 saves against his former team for the shutout win. Merek Pipes was sharp in goal for Swan Valley, stopping 29 shots while taking the loss.
The Stamps went 0-for-4 on the man advantage, while the Terriers were 1-for-3.
Stamps stuff
Game 3 of this series heads back to Portage on Wednesday, while Game 4 will be back in Swan River on Saturday night, 7:30 p.m. at the Centennial Arena. As well, Game 5 will take place in Portage next Tuesday (April 16) … The league final is more spread out than the previous series, due in part to being ahead of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs. Of course, the eventual MJHL and SJHL champions will face each other later this month in the ANAVET Cup for the right to represent this region in the RBC Cup.

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Derek Holtom
REPORTER
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