The Cold Lake Ice came back from behind to beat the St. Paul Canadiens in overtime on Tuesday night. The matchup was the fifth of this first-round playoff series, over which St. Paul held a commanding 3-1 lead going into the game.
Nicholas Klassen scored first for St. Paul to establish a lead that would last well into the third period. Cold Lake showed deep offensive strength throughout the first and second periods, outshooting St. Paul 30-23 in the first two frames, but couldn’t manage to tie the game back at one.
It took nearly 40 minutes for anyone to score again, and it was Kyle Crawford for St. Paul who did so next, adding some insurance and breathing room to their lead. Coltan Buchta was finally able to put one on the board for the Ice just past the halfway point of the third, but still had a lot of ground to cover and not much time to do it.
The tide of the game turned when St. Paul’s Zach Bendall, who had just 40 penalty minutes during the regular season, took a poorly-timed tripping penalty to put Cold Lake on the power play with just three minutes remaining in the game. The Ice got to work, and it took less than a minute for them to set up in the Canadiens’ end. Jacob Bartman got the puck over to Steven Kufflick. Kufflick wasted no time in wiring it past Michael Davis to draw even with the Canadiens at 2-2 and to take the game to overtime.
“In some aspects, we’re lucky to only have the game tied at 2-2,” assistant coach Travis Rolheiser said during the third intermission. “The first half of the game, Cold Lake really took it to us. . . If you look at the shots, 33-42 and there’s only been four goals scored, that tells you that there’s probably not going to be a lot of finesse or skill plays [in overtime]. Someone’s going to get a good bounce. . . and one team is going to win, and one team is going to lose.” [Watch the full interview here]
Overtime was brief but crucial for the Cold Lake Ice. Down 3-1 in the series, a goal in their favour would force Game Six while a goal against them would bring the series to a close. Cold Lake was instantly dominant from the moment they took the ice. Jonah Henderson broke out of Cold Lake’s defensive end alongside Bartman. A quick pass to Bartman and, just like that, he had a great view of St. Paul’s net. Bartman put the puck home to win with a score of 3-2 after only 72 seconds of overtime, extending their playoff lives by a game.
Both teams will have a day off on Friday before heading back to Cold Lake for Game Six, where the Ice will once again try to stave off playoff elimination at home. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.