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St. Albert 1 at Grande Prairie 0 (OT)
For the second night in a row, St. Albert and Grande Prairie played to an extreme defensive battle. While last night it was Kirby Millar against Chad Rycroft, tonight Rycroft’s opponent was Scott Kabotoff.
Kabotoff, who tied a league-record four shutouts in the regular season stopped seven shots in the first period, 15 in the second and ten in the third. He stopped one shot over seven minutes of overtime. Kabotoff’s goals-against average playing in three of the team’s four playoff games so far is Rycroft, who was not even the clear-cut number one goaltender in the regular season for the Storm, has played every single minute of the playoffs so far for his club. He did allow the game-winning goal tonight, but not before stopping 11 shots in the first period, six in the second and eight in the third as well as two in overtime. His average dropped to 2.47 and his save percentage rose to .922 on this night.
While the first three periods were scoreless, Mark Jackson scored his first of the playoffs with 3:53 remaining in the first overtime period. Pavel Beranek added the assist.
Fort Saskatchewan 1 at Lloydminster 4
After dominating the first two games – especially the first game – only to run into a red-hot Nick Boucher, the Lloydminster Blazers finally solved Fort Saskatchewan’s goaltending. Boucher was spectacular once again, stopping 41 shots but it was not enough on this night. All Fort Saskatchewan could muster at Lloyd netminder Ray Fraser was 20 shots, including six in the final frame.
Recently named AJHL MVP Matt Gorman opened the scoring with his third of the playoffs for Fort Sask 1:59 in, assisted by Kyle Chant and Mike Widdifield. About eight minutes later, Scott Pratt then scored his first of the post-season, assisted by Mark Hallam and Paul Esdale – playing in his first game of the playoffs.
In the second period, Pratt then scored again, this time on the powerplay, to put the Blazers up 2-1. With 45 seconds remaining in the period, Lloydminster doubled their lead as Jamie Weiss scored a goal assisted by Paul Esdale and Kevin Werner. Esdale added one of his own as insurance with just over three minutes left in the game as Lloydminster avoided falling down 3-0 in the series.
(1) Scott Kabotoff – 77 minutes of shutout hockey to get the Saints up 3-1 in the series.
(2) Chad Rycroft – Storm puckstopper also played 77 minutes of shutout hockey, but did allow the Saints’ OT goal at the end of the game. Has played magnificent, but has an uphill battle in the series now.
(3) Paul Esdale – First game of the playoffs sparked the Blazers to victory with a goal and two assists.
Calgary Canucks 4 at Camrose 3
Calgary had a little bit of a scare tonight as the Camrose Kodiaks ferociously tried to come back in the third period. The Canucks opened with a 1-0 lead thanks to a shorthanded goal by Drew Norman, who is eligible in the upcoming draft, assisted by Neil McCann and Ryan Manitowich a couple minutes in. They increased their lead later on in the period as David Wilding scored his first of the playoffs.
In the second period, Dany Heatley, who is also eligible for this year’s draft, scored with just under five minutes remaining to give the Canucks a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 lead. However, in the third period the Kodiaks attempted to come back. With about ten minutes left in the game, Jason Kenyon and Curtis Ferguson brought their club to within one, but shortly thereafter the Canucks grabbed a 4-2 lead as David Wilding scored his second of the game. Riley Riddell added a goal for Camrose in the dying seconds to make the game look closer, but the Kodiaks now have to head into Calgary Friday to try and avoid going down 3-0 in the series.
Wes Schnieder played a solid game in goal for the Kodiaks, stopping 42 shots. Calgary’s Mike Gilhooly stopped 30, including 16 in the third period.
March 12th – St. Albert at Grande Prairie, 7:30pm MT
St. Albert leads best-of-seven quarterfinal 3-1
March 12th – Calgary Royals at Olds, 7:30pm MT
Olds leads best-of-seven quarterfinal 2-1
March 12th – Fort Saskatchewan at Lloydminster, 7:35pm MT
Fort Saskatchewan leads best-of-seven quarterfinal 2-1
March 12th – Calgary Canucks at Camrose, 8:00pm MT
Calgary leads best-of-seven quarterfinal 2-0