By Bill Burfoot
Photo courtesy of the Swan Valley Stampeders
The Swan Valley Stampeders are one win away from winning their first Manitoba Junior Hockey League title after a thrilling triple-overtime win over the Portage Terriers Tuesday night.
Bradly Goethals was the hero once again for the Stampeders, scoring his 11thgoal of the poststeason -- and second overtime winner of the series – early in the third overtime to give Swan Valley the 4-3 win, and ultimately an opportunity to hoist the Turnbull Cup on home ice Thursday night.
Goethals has been red hot in the series, compiling four goals and eight points so far and leads the MJHL in playoff points with 23. Goethals has scored the game-winning goal in all three of Swan Valley’s wins in the series.
The series has been everything it was billed to be. Fast, physical, high-scoring at times, a tight defensive game at times, and each team playing in front of extremely passionate fan bases.
Before Game Five’s win by Swan Valley, the home team had won every game of the series. The Terriers blanked the Stampeders 3-0 in Game 1. In a critical Game 2, Swan Valley jumped out to a 3-0 lead only to see the Terriers battle back and at the end of regulation it was all tied at five. Goethals would net the overtime winner to tie the series at one game apiece, and snapped the Terriers 15-game winning streak in the process.
In Game 3 the Terriers jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two periods, but the Stampeders battled back to tie the game up before Scott Mickoski scored the eventual game-winner with just under five minutes to play to put Portage back on top of the series 2-games-to-1.
It wasn’t technically a must-win for Swan Valley in Game 4, but they knew they didn’t want to head back to Portage down 3-games-to-1, and they came out flying, scoring the first seven goals of the hockey game and tied the series up at two with a 7-2 win.
The two clubs exchanged goals in each of the first three periods in Game 5. Jay Buchholz scored his sixth of the playoffs early in the third period to put the Terriers up 3-2. The lead held up until Brian Harris capitalized with just under four minutes to go in the third to send the game to overtime and set up Goethals third-overtime heroics.
The best-of-7 final now shifts to Swan Valley on Thursday night. The Terriers will be looking to send the series back to Portage for a Game 7, while the Stampeders will be looking to make history, and win the first Turnbull Cup in franchise history. Who will it be?