The St. Paul Canadiens bid for a NEAJBHL champion fell short.
The Wainwright Bisons played spoiler at the Clancy Richard Arena and completed a four game sweep with a 4-3 overtime victory on Friday night.
Canadiens’ forwards Janson Pashniak and Kyler Steinhauer-Morin began the 2nd period with goals just 40 seconds apart to seize a 2-1 lead.
Wainwright’s Lucas McClennon responded not two minutes later to knot the game up again.
Then Nico Beaudoin began the 3rd period with a goal just 32 seconds into the frame to restore the Canadiens lead. However, Logan Garnier got another equalizer with a little over 6 minutes left in regulation.
That sent the game into overtime. It didn’t take long into the extra frame though for the Bisons to walk away victorious as Drake Rennie played hero with the overtime winner just 3:15 into OT.
Although it’s a bittersweet feeling losing in the championship, Canadiens coach Shawn Germain commended his team’s effort in the final game.
“I feel like if we played that way, you know, from the start of the series, it would have been a different series,” said Germain. “But I was proud of the way the guys came out tonight. Being down 3-0 is not an easy place to be and I thought we showed a lot of guts in the way we played today and really hung with it and didn’t give up.”
Unlike other seasons, the Canadiens knew heading into the championship that they were already headed to Provincials, since Wainwright is hosting that tournament in 10 days.
Germain’s message to the group heading out of the locker room when the final horn sounded was one of looking forward to.
“I just told them this is gonna hurt and it’s supposed to hurt and you got to learn from it. Right? A little bit of a different situation. We got to chew on this for a few days and then kind of reset and get ready to go to Provincials, which is like I said, a different situation. We’re gonna learn from this move on and try to be better at Provincials.”
The Wainwright Bisons went 8-0 in the post-season en route to their fifth straight NEAJBHL title dating back to 2015-16. Although the Bisons were eliminated in 2019-20 in the league semifinals, the NEAJBHL title wasn’t handed out due to COVID restrictions being swept into place in early 2020, stopping a potential final between St. Paul and Lac La Biche.
The Bisons host the tournament from March 31-April 3.
Wainwright and St. Paul will battle against the Sherwood Park Knights, Beaumont Chiefs, Okotoks Bisons, Cochrane Generals, Fort St John Huskies, CBHA Rangers from Calgary.
St. Paul’s Beaudoin finishes the NEAJBHL postseason as the league’s points leader with 15 points in 10 games.