TISDALE — After two dramatic victories, the Tisdale Trojans are looking to close out their first-round playoff series this week.
Last week the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League team grabbed a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five series against the Saskatoon Blazers. The No. 7-seeded Trojans won game one on the road in double overtime, 2-1, over the second-seeded Blazers on Tuesday. The Tisdale team fell 7-1 at home on Thursday. Back on the road, the Trojans came back to win 5-4 in double overtime on Saturday.
“It’s kind of been like our season in a nutshell in three games – ups and downs, adversity,” head coach Dennis Kubat said. “I think throughout the year dealing with adversity really helps in situations when things aren’t going your way in the playoffs. In a five-game playoff series, there are just so many ups and downs. It’s how you control those emotions and try to stay as even kneel as you can throughout.”
The Trojans hoped to win the series on Tuesday in front of an enthusiastic Tisdale RECplex crowd. Acknowledging his team has a better record on the road this campaign, Kubat said:
“We got to treat it like a road game or something. You find a way. We know we are going to get their absolute best effort. They are going to be desperate... We just need that better start at home, someway, somehow.”
If needed, game four would be on Thursday in Saskatoon.
In their two victories, the Trojans received outstanding goalkeeping from Hunter Lolacher. He turned away 43 shots in game one. In game three, the 16-year-old rookie made 51 saves on 55 shots.
“He was amazing Tuesday night. He was awesome Saturday... He just gives the guys confidence back there,” Kubat said.
Offensively, Tisdale has been led by the line of Mackenzie Carson (two goals, three points), Trenton Curtis (three points) and Kalen Ukrainetz (one goal). Mario Fortier had three points.
“Our big line has been playing well... Our rookies are getting experience each and every time they are on the ice,” Kubat said. “Our D’s been solid. It’s a group effort. That’s how we are going to win in the playoffs.”
Trojans 5, Blazers 4 2OT
The Trojans kept battling back on Saturday night in Saskatoon. They trailed the hosts 2-0 less than two minutes into the first period. Tisdale fought back to make the game 2-2 at the first intermission. Two second period goals gave the Blazers a 4-2 lead.
“We kind of stuck with it and played even hockey with them after that and got rewarded with a couple of goals,” Kubat said.
Carson scored in the second period. With 1:01 remaining in the contest, defenceman Cole Tanchuk scored on a shot from the point to tie the game at 4-4. In the second overtime session, Curtis was able to end the game.
“I came off the bench and the puck was in their end,” he said. “Carter Briltz won the battle and passed it out front right to me. I took it to my backhand and I’m just glad it went in.”
Blazers 7, Trojans 1
The Blazers got rolling early in Tisdale – scoring around two minutes into the contest on Feb. 27. They led 4-0 and 6-0 at the intermissions. Saskatoon outshot Tisdale 46-23.
Goalie Hunter Lolacher made 17 saves on 22 shots. Teammate Boston Gelowitz stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced. Mario Fortier had Tisdale’s goal on a powerplay.
Trojans 2, Blazers 1 2OT
The opening contest of the series was knotted at 1-1 after regulation and the first overtime session on Feb. 25. Defenceman Zac Robins scored the winning goal to give his team a 1-0 series lead.
“I just saw an opening to jump up in the play and skated as fast as I could to catch up to the boys,” he said. “Mario gave me a perfect pass on the tape and, in those overtime situations, if you got a good chance
to score, you have to burry it so the only thing going through my mind was score and it worked out for me.
“I was pumped to get the game one win. We knew coming in if we worked hard and played our game, we could get on top of them and that’s exactly what we did.”
Lolacher turned away 43 of the 44 shots he faced.
The Trojans last week
Tuesday, Feb. 25 in Saskatoon
Tisdale 2, Saskatoon Blazers 1 2OT
Tisdale Scorers: Kalen Ukrainetz, Zac Robins
Blazers Scorer: Braxton Buckberger
Goalies: Hunter Lolacher, Tisdale, 43 saves on 44 shots; Brett Mirwald, Saskatoon, 22 on 24
Notes: Robins had the game-winning goal. After a scoreless first period, Ukrainetz made it 1-0 for Tisdale in the second. Saskatoon tied things up in the third.
Thursday, Feb. 27 in Tisdale
Saskatoon Blazers 7, Tisdale 1
Trojans Scorer: Mario Fortier
Blazers Scorers: Tyson Wouters (3), Logan Cox, Logan McCutcheon, Ryan Conlon, Charlie Keller
Goalies: Hunter Lolacher, Tisdale, 17 on 22; Boston Gelowitz, Tisdale, 21 on 23; Brett Mirwald, Saskatoon, 22 on 23
Notes: The Blazers led 4-0 and 6-0 at the intermissions. Fortier scored the game’s final goal on a powerplay.
Saturday, Feb. 29 in Tisdale
Tisdale 5, Saskatoon Blazers 4 2OT
Trojans Scorer: Mackenzie Carson (2), Trenton Curtis, Cole Tanchuk, Noah Willis
Blazers Scorers: Nolan Flamand, Daylan Weigel, Tyson Wouters, Logan McCutcheon
Goalies: Hunter Lolacher, Tisdale, 51 on 55; Brett Mirwald, Saskatoon, 21 on 26
Notes: The Blazers led 2-0 early in the first period, but Tisdale tied the game 2-2 before the first intermission. Saskatoon went up 4-2 in the second. Tisdale scored once in the second and Tanchuk tied the game with 1:01 left to play. Curtis scored the winning goal.
Tisdale captain Kalen Ukrainetz was named to the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey Leage First All-Star Team. The 17-year-old from Wynyard led the league with 33 goals and was fourth in points with 63. Ukraintez’ strong season made him the Trojans’ career leader in points and goals.
The Trojans continue to tangle with the Blazers in their best-of-five quarterfinals series this week. Game four was slated for Tuesday, March 3, with the fifth game, if needed, on Thursday.