The Frog Lake T-Birds had a chance to close out round two of the 2018 playoffs and advance to finals on Wednesday night in Killam. But an impressive defensive effort from the Wheat Kings held them at bay. The Wheat Kings won 5-3, extending the series to another game.
The Wheaties grabbed an early lead with two consecutive goals in the first period, including one on the power play, to put them up by a pair. Tristan Galarneau scored his first goal of the playoffs at the 12-minute mark of the first to cut Killam’s lead in half and to put Frog Lake up on the board.
Clay Lang, who leads the Wheat Kings in goals and assists (with 16 goals and nine assists) added to his impressive playoff point total in the second period. Killam doubled their score with another pair of goals coming just a few minutes apart at the midway point of the period. The T-Birds were held off the scoreboard in the second frame but made a solid comeback effort in the third.
Curtis Scales scored his third goal of the playoffs in the fifth minute of the third to bring Frog Lake back within two goals. Scales’ goal was also scored shorthanded. Shortly thereafter, Ryder Prue grabbed his sixth of the post-season off a pass from Josh Swampy to make the score 4-3. But the T-Birds couldn’t complete the comeback, pulling goalie Justin Fedoruk in the final minutes of the game, allowing Killam to score once more to end the scoring at 5-3.
“There were quite a few times tonight that we just didn’t play that well,” said Frog Lake coach Harvey Smyl. “But, credit to Killam. They played a very strong game at both ends of the ice. They were a lot better, especially defensively, and that seemed to give them a bit of a boost. Overall, they were just pretty solid.”
The T-Birds Come Home
The T-Birds will now come back home to host Killam for game six on Friday night at 8:00. Once again, much like in the first series against the Lac La Biche Clippers, they have the opportunity to close out the series in front of the home crowd.
“The team here has incredible fans,” says Smyl, “and that’s what it’s all about. Even when we were on the road, like tonight in Killam, we still had a big group of dedicated fans there with us.”
So what will the game plan be for game six? Coach Smyl says it won’t be any different than their mindset all season long:
“All year, we’ve primarily focused on two huge areas: good defensive hockey and discipline. You don’t win games without either of those. In Killam tonight, those things were lacking. We can’t get distracted by any non-hockey antics or external factors. So our plan for Friday? We’re gonna be smart and we’re gonna play hard, focusing singularly on winning the game right in front of us.”
With the other series in the league coming to an end on Wednesday, it’s now certain that the winner of this series will play the Wainwright Bisons in the finals. The Bisons are undefeated thus far in the playoffs with a perfect 8-0 record, outscoring their opponents 53-15. A win at home for Frog Lake will see them play Wainwright, while a loss will force game seven back in Killam on Saturday.