The Cold Lake Ice once again defeated the St. Paul Canadiens in overtime to continue their playoff run on Saturday night, drawing the series to an even 3-3 and forcing a seventh game. They did the same thing on Thursday evening when down in the series 3-1.
The game was intense, with lots of back-and-forth goal scoring. Scott Thackeray scored first for Cold Lake, 14 minutes into the opening frame on passes by Steven Kufflick and Jean-Guy Boisvert. But Kyle Crawford evened out the scoring for St. Paul with an unassisted breakaway 45 seconds later. Bailey Lonsberry tallied another goal for the Canadiens in the final minute of the first period to put them up 2-1.
The only goal in the second period was a tying goal for Cold Lake, scored by Deni Kantel and assisted by Jacob Bartman and Thackeray, but there was plenty of scoring action in the third.
Orrie Wood took the lead back for St. Paul in the final period on a textbook tic-tac-toe play involving Zach Bendall and Braydon Burak. Kufflick and Ethan Lacrocque both scored for Cold Lake, 36 seconds apart at the midway point of the period, giving the Ice a 4-3 lead.
Coltan Buchta gave the Ice some insurance on their lead on an empty-net goal with only a minute-and-a-half left to play, but with a pulled goaltender and an extra attacker, St. Paul got to work fast.
Alexander Astasiewicz scored ten seconds after Buchta’s goal, putting St. Paul back within a goal with a 5-4 score. Then, set up in the Cold Lake defensive zone, Arron Gagne passed to Zach Bendall, who got it over to Braydon Burak. Burak scored with 36 seconds left in the game to bring back to an even 5-5, forcing O.T. Gagne, Bendall, and Burak were 3 of St. Paul’s top five scorers in the regular season.
“You score to make it 5-3, you think you have it in the bag,” said Cold Lake coach Scott Hood, “but we just need to try to get the guys to play right to the buzzer. St Paul’s not going to quit. . . and we just didn’t do our job. We had some mistakes that cost us.”
Cold Lake had a rough start in overtime with Kantel taking a tripping penalty, but the Ice held the Canadiens’ power play special teams at bay. The tie-breaker was finally scored after seven minutes of sudden-death tension. Donavan Bibeau scored the winner, assisted by Tehgann Pasichnuk and Boisvert.
“It was a heck of a hockey game,” Hood said. “Good crowd and the fans were really into it. They got their money’s worth tonight. St. Paul’s got a heck of a team. They’ve got some good goalies and they’re working and battling hard, and that’s what we expect of them.”
The final game of this series takes place tonight, in St. Paul at the Clancy, at 5:00.