The first Allan Cup quarter final looked like it would be over early, but it wound up being a fight to the finish.
For Manitoba’s South East Prairie Thunder and the Rosetown Redwings of Saskatchewan, it looked to be a replay of their regional series last month and that same result left the Thunder heading back home.
The Redwings doubled up the Prairie Thunder 4-2 Thursday night and will now face a familiar foe in the host Lacombe Generals for a berth in the championship final.
Rosetown’s Jordan Johnston scored near the eight minute mark of the first, which made him the only player to notch a goal in each of his games at the tournament.
Jared Jagow increased the Redwings lead just over six minutes into the middle frame, followed almost six minutes later by a goal off the stick of Kyle Ireland.
The Redwings carried much of the play until the Prairie Thunder got some momentum back courtesy of a Devon LeBlanc shot that hit back of the net on the powerplay with under two minutes to go in the second.
Third played out much like the opening period, with Rosetown’s Zachery Zadorozniak scoring just over five minutes in.
However, Ian Lowe’s powerplay goal with 9:35 left gave the Prairie Thunder some lift and saw them take to Rosetown the rest of the way.
Yet despite a huge push, including a powerplay for the final two minutes that saw the Manitoba squad pull the goalie to play six-on-four, it wasn’t to be.
For the Redwings, coming out and playing their game was a big factor in the victory.
“We came in knowing if we played harder than the other team that we would win,”said Johnston, who notched his tournament leading fourth goal in the contest.
“We’ve seen the play and know how skilled they are, but felt if we played our game we could get under their skin.”
Grabbing a big three goal lead proved to be the boost Rosetown would need, Johnston added, “In senior hockey especially, it’s hard to comeback from that kind of deficit.”
It helped though to have Nik Amundrud in between the pipes for this pivotal game, who was peppered with around 20 shots in the final 20 minutes with several key stops in the final few minutes.
“The guys were great in front of me tonight with a lot of huge blocks and sacrificing their bodies, something you don’t often see at this level,” Amundrud said, who made his first appearance of the tournament.
“What that shows is the heart and desire of this team and I just wanted get in front and stop the puck. I haven’t been in a lot of games lately or been in ones with this level of pressure. So, it was good to get into right off the start.”
Both Amundrud and Johnston know their next test will be tough, a date Friday night (8 p.m., Gary Moe Sportsplex) with Lacombe.
“We split the season series with them this year, so it’s cool to see this rivalry and the game is going to be fun and exciting, ” said Amundrud.
Meanwhile, Johnston stated the Redwings will need to keep their cool tomorrow night.
“Containing our emotions is going to be key as both teams are going to be fired up,” he said.
“It will be a battle, so keeping our cool, forgetting about what’s gone on earlier this season and playing smart, not letting them get into our heads is what that game will be all about.”