The Swift Current Broncos defeated the host Moose Jaw Warriors 3-1 in game seven Monday to win their first playoff series in nine seasons.
Captain Glenn Gawdin scored the game winner in the third period and Jordan Papirny made 39 saves to backstop the Broncos to the game seven win in front of a sold out crowd.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Gawdin after the game. “We have been waiting a long time in this organization and city. It’s a weight off our back, but we feel we are just getting started.”
“Everybody is really happy,” added defenseman Sahvan Khaira. “For a lot of us this is our first crack at the playoffs and especially I think it was almost everybody’s first seventh game. It is a really good feeling right now.”
Colby Sissons gave the Broncos the lead when his shot from the sideboards on an innocent looking rush somehow beat Zach Sawchenko’s glove 4:30 into regulation.
They took a 2-0 lead when Tyler Steenbergen one-timed home a feed from Aleksi Heponiemi early in the second period on a two-man advantage. Justin Almeida replied for the Warriors midway through the middle stanza.
Glenn Gawdin restored the two-goal lead 3:17 into the third period when he took a Steenbergen errant shot that rebounded off the end boards for him to deflect up and over a diving Sawchenko.
“It was just a good play by everybody. A good shot by Steener and I just went to the net, a little tip, and it found its way in. I was fighting the puck a little bit, so it was nice to see that one go in,” said Gawdin.
The Warriors thought they had pulled within one again with 10:13 left when the refs ruled that Thomas Foster had scored but replay showed that the puck had hit the cross bar and replay overturned the goal.
Josh Brook scored with 5:01 but the Warriors were unable to even up the game.
Monday’s win concluded an incredible stretch of nine consecutive games between the two East Division rivals, who finished only five points apart in the regular season.
“It was a long one. Nine games was obviously the max that we were going to play. This game we knew what to expect and they were going to know what we were going to bring. It is another one of those games that went down to the last minute there and we just found a way to win,” said Gawdin.
“I think when you play someone nine times you start to understand what each player is going to do when you are out there against them. That is definitely what happened here was you get know to the person that you are playing against and it was just a really exciting time,” added Khaira.
The Broncos will now face the Regina Pats in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final beginning Thursday and Friday in Regina.
“I think right now just recovery is key. We just can’t sway away from our game. We have to play our system and just play solid defense,” said Khaira.