It didn’t take long for the St. Paul Canadiens to win Round 1 these playoffs, but that doesn’t mean the series was easy.
The Canadiens swept the Lloydminster Bandits on Tuesday with a 6-4 victory advancing St. Paul to the second-round.
“It was a tough series. We swept it but it was right down to the very end which I really suspected because it’s a hard-working team and a good group over there,” said Coach Shawn Germain.
“I’m glad we were challenged like that in the first round, even though it was a sweep, I’m glad we had that type of series to prepare us for what’s coming up.”
Game 3 was a back-and-forth, rough affair which saw the Bandits continue to claw their back into the game.
The Bandits were down by three goals heading into the third period, but added a quick two markers past Bradley Mistol to make it 6-5.
The Canadiens got late goals from Janson Pashniak and Darwin Morin to claim the 8-5 victory.
Morin came to St. Paul in the middle of the season from the Bandits. A previous member of the Frog Lake T-Birds last year, Morin had 12 points heading into playoffs from his defensive role on the team as he’s relied upon to kill penalties and work on the forecheck, said Germain.
“We learned some important lessons yesterday [Tuesday]. We kind of came unglued at points. But we also battled our way back and we had some guys show some big-time leadership. Darwin Morin was incredible not only in a series but especially yesterday,” said Germain.
With the first-place Lac La Biche Clippers also moving to the second round with a sweep of the Vegreville Rangers, it seems the Canadiens are on a collision course with the 2nd-seeded Wainwright Bisons next.
The Bisons knocked out the Canadiens in the second-round last year and are going on four straight NEAJBHL league championships.
The two foes split the season-series 2-2 during the season with St. Paul winning the last two times they met.
Germain said the team will look to tighten up the details in their game, while focusing on the powerplay which hasn’t been clicking as of late.
“I’m expecting a good series. I’m expecting them to do what they do. They’ve won a lot in this league lately. They know how to do it. We want to become a team like Wainwright. You can’t become that team unless you really challenge them and push them. So we’re hoping to do that and let the chips fall where they may.”