TISDALE — The Tisdale Trojans are looking to pull off another upset.
After beating the Saskatoon Blazers, 3-1, in a best-of-five first round series, the No. 7-seeded Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League team is pitted against the top-seeded Regina Pat Canadians. The series between the Trojans (23-19-1-1, in the regular season) and the Pat Canadians (32-8-4-0) starts on Tuesday in Regina. The first Trojans’ home game will be Thursday.
“We are the underdogs going in,” Tisdale head coach Dennis Kubat said. “We have nothing to lose in this series. Continue to play in the structure we have. Who knows what will happen?”
After beating a Blazers team that had swept them in the regular season, the Trojans now face a squad that they have had some success against. Tisdale was 2-2 versus the Pat Canadians this season. They lost 7-2 and 3-0 in October to the Regina squad but earned a 3-1 victory in November and a 4-2 win in early December. Kubat noted that his team is definitely different than it was the last time the two teams met. The young Trojans team has also gained some valuable playoff experience.
Regina beat Swift Current, 3-1, in the quarterfinals. In the playoffs, Kyren Gronick has led the Pat Canadians with a league best four goals and nine points in four playoff games. Cal Caragata had eight points. Caragata was the regular season league MVP with 32 goals and 69 points in 36 games. Regina’s Jared Thompson was the league’s Top Goalie with a 1.61 goals against average. Pat Canadian blue liner Logen Hammett was named the league’s Top Defenceman.
“They will be a tough challenge for sure,” Kubat said. “They got good depth. They’re physical. Their powerplay is the best in the league by far.”
Forward Mackenzie Carson and defenceman Zac Robins led the Trojans in the first round with four points each. Carson had a team high three goals.
In the first week of the playoffs, the Trojans beat the Blazers 2-1 in double overtime on the road, fell 7-1 at home, and won 5-4 on the road in double overtime. That set up the Trojans entering last week with a 2-1 lead in the series. The team closed out the series with a 3-1 victory at home on March 3.
“It was an awesome feeling of beating out the Blazers and moving on,” Tisdale forward Keagon Little said. “We all played a very good game. All the lines and D pairings and goalie played very well.”
After a scoreless first period, Logan Cox scored in the second frame on the Blazers’ 28th shot of the game. With less than two minutes remaining in the period, Tisdale goalie Hunter Lolacher made a big save on Tyson Wouters to prevent Saskatoon from going up 2-0.
“It was a last-ditch effort on a pass I didn’t really see very well so I knew I had to dive for it and came up with the save,” Lolacher said. “It was a real momentum booster for the boys when we needed it after being down 1-0.”
He would finish with 43 saves on 44 shots. The 16-year-old rookie saw a lot of rubber against the Blazers. Lolacher made 39 saves in game one and 51 in game three.
“It definitely helped with getting my confidence up from making lots of saves but our defence played a good game and kept most shots to the outside which helps a lot,” Lolacher said of game four.
At the 4:54 mark in the third period, the Trojans knotted the contest at 1-1 on a powerplay goal by Keagon Little.
“I just tried to put myself into position to score and Drayton [Hvidston] made a really good shot that I could tip,” Little said. “I just knew if I could maybe tip it and change direction that it would create a rebound for someone in front or go in, but it happened to go in … It changed the momentum so much. We had life again, which you can tell because 30 seconds later we scored again and then we just were jacked up and kept going.”
At the 4:24 mark, veteran Carson put the Trojans on top 2-1. Noah Wills added a goal at 2:38.
The Trojans last week
Playoffs First Round
Tisdale 3, Saskatoon Blazers 1
Tuesday, March 3 in Tisdale
Tisdale 3, Saskatoon Blazers 1
Tisdale Scorers: Keagon Little, Noah Wills, Mackenzie Carson
Blazers Scorer: Logan Cox
Goalies: Hunter Lolacher, Tisdale, 43 saves on 44 shots; Brett Mirwald, Saskatoon, 39 on 42
Notes: After a scoreless first period, Saskatoon took a 1-0 lead. A powerplay goal by Little tied the game at 1-1 in the third. Carson’s goal gave Tisdale the lead before Wills added an insurance marker.
The Tisdale Trojans advance to the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League semifinals. They take on the top-seeded Regina Pat Canadians. Game one was set for Regina on Tuesday with the second contest taking place in Tisdale on Thursday. The Trojans hit the road for game three on Sunday. If needed game four would be Tuesday in Tisdale with a fifth contest on March 18 in Regina.