Photo Credit: Game Ready Photography
It took seven games and four additional overtime periods. The Cold Lake Ice pushed the St. Paul Canadiens to seven games in their opening series of the 2018 NEAJBHL playoffs, and tonight, won in overtime to advance to the second round.
The Canadiens/Ice series has been shocking and intense, with each of the last three games going to overtime. The Canadiens had a 3-1 series lead, but the Ice won each of those overtime bouts back-to-back to overthrow St. Paul.
The Canadiens had a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period, which was followed by each team scoring one goal in the second, still giving St. Paul a one-goal lead. But, as they’ve done all series long, the Ice fought back, and Steven Kufflick tied the game, taking it to overtime.
Kufflick was also the overtime hero, scoring the winning goal off of a fortuitous bounce to eliminate the Canadiens.
“It’s unbelievable,” Ice coach Scott Hood said. “It’s unbelievable how resilient we were, how hard we worked from Game One all the way to Game Seven. I’ve said it all series, but hats off to Joe Young [coach of the St. Paul Canadiens] and the St. Paul Canadiens, because they’ve got a heck of a squad. I feel terrible for that goalie [Michael Davis] ’cause he lost three games in overtime but he played great again tonight…I feel good for the boys and I’m proud of them.” [Click to watch full interview]
Coach Joe Young was understandably in a less cheery mood after the game, but was quick to point out the positives in his team:
“They worked their butts off all year to get to this point,” he said. “Things did not look good at the start [of the season]…but this is one of the best groups that we’ve ever had…They played hard every night, whether we had 13 skaters or 18 skaters. This is a great learning experience and…they got a taste for it this year, and we’re going to go from there.” [Click to watch full interview]
The Ice will now advance to play the Wainwright Bisons, who are defending back-to-back league championships and had a staggering record of 34-2-0 in the 2017-2018 season.