The Lac La Biche Clippers and the Frog Lake T-Birds went head-to-head in a nail-biting fourth game of their playoff series in Lac La Biche on Tuesday night. Coming into the game, Frog Lake had a 2-1 series lead after a 10-6 come-from-behind, blowout win just one day before. Tuesday’s game came right down to the wire, and Frog Lake’s star forward Cody Hodgson scored in the last possible moment to win 3-2 and to take a 3-1 series lead.
Frog Lake got in some hefty penalty trouble early on, taking five consecutive minors in the first period. They spent the majority of the first on the penalty kill. Despite several close calls, Lac La Biche wasn’t able to make use of several power play opportunities as T-Birds goalie Justin Fedoruk stopped everything the Clippers sent his way. Courage Omeasoo turned things around for Frog Lake with a goal in the fifteenth minute, assisted by Michael Cardinal and captain Joshua Swampy.
“The refs, well, I don’t have too many kind things to say about them after the first period,” T-Birds team manager Wayne Joe Dion said. “But our boys played really well and we were able to still score even when we were struggling to keep ourselves at even strength.”
The Clippers continued to bombard the T-Birds with a string of shots and offensive domination throughout the remainder of the first period and the entirety of the second. They were finally able to crack the visiting team’s tough defense with a power play goal by Dawson Boucher that came after a tripping minor assessed to Kaleb Many Fingers.
Penalties continued to be handed out in the Clippers’ favour and Isaac Barr scored early in the third period on a power play that rolled over from the second to give the Clippers a 2-1 lead. They seemed poised to walk away with a win until Michael Cardinal and Ryder Prue combined to score Frog Lake’s second goal of the night, taking the Clippers’ lead away.
Overtime narrowly avoided
As time in the third period ran short, it looked like the back-and-forth game was headed into sudden death overtime. The final faceoff in regulation took place in the Clippers’ defensive end with just seconds remaining. Prue passed the puck to Cardinal, who in turn got the puck over to Hodgson at the top of the circle. Hodgson shot a ripper towards Clippers goalie Nathan Spark, sending it right past him and into the net with just two seconds left to play.
The late goal all but sealed the deal for Frog Lake, giving them the win and a huge lead in the series with an opportunity to close it out at home later this week. Fedoruk stopped a whopping 67 shots, while Cardinal had a three-point night with a goal and two assists. Barr had a goal and an assist for Lac La Biche.
“Fedoruk, oh man, he was incredible,” Dion said. “He seriously stood on his head and made some incredible saves. Plain and simple, without him, we would not have won this game. It was close enough already without having to stop almost 70 shots. He showed up time and time again on the PK, on odd-man rushes—everything.”
Game Five will take place back in Frog Lake on Thursday, February at 8:00 p.m. A win for Frog Lake will end the best-of-7 series, but you can bet that the Clippers will show up in full force, ready to force Game Six which, if necessary, would be played in Lac La Biche on Saturday.