The Estevan Bruins have dispatched of the Flin Flon Bombers, and are off to the next round of the playoffs.
Estevan defeated Flin Flon 3-1 in Game 5 of their SJHL wildcard round series to win the best-of-five series 3-2.
The Bruins will now play the Battlefords North Stars in the quarter-finals.
Lynnden Pastachak opened the scoring with 7 1/2 minutes to play in the first period, after he capitalized on a Flin Flon turnover in the Bombers' zone.
But less than two minutes later, Flin Flon tied the game when Paul Soubry jumped on a Bruins' turnover.
The game didn't remain deadlocked for long, as Austin Daae scored following a scramble in front of the Flin Flon goal with two minutes to play in the first period.
After a scoreless second period, Flin Flon carried the play early in the third, but couldn't beat Bruin goaltender Matt Gibney.
Estevan head coach/GM Chris Lewgood called a time out 5 1/2 minutes into the third period, and the Bruins limited the Bombers' chances from there. In the final few minutes of the game, the puck was mostly in Flin Flon's end of the ice.
"Tonight was a good night defensively, and even when you do give up a scoring chance, you know you have the best goaltender in the league to help you out," said Lewgood.
Daae scored his second of the game into an empty net with 15 seconds to play to clinch the victory.
"There was (a sense of) desperation going into the game, knowing it could be the last junior game of your career," Daae told Lifestyles. "That's probably the biggest thing – making the most of everything the whole game."
Matt Gibney stopped 44 shots for the victory. He made at least 44 saves in each game in the series.
"He was the best player (in the series) by a country mile," said Lewgood. "It wasn't even close. They had some really good efforts and so did we – forwards, defencemen and everywhere – but there was no question who the best player in that series was."
Gibney's efforts in Games 1, 2 and 3 were the best games that Lewgood has seen this year.
"Game 2 might have been the finest goaltending I've seen in a losing effort in my life," said Lewgood. "He made some saves I can't wait to show people."
Gibney said it was a tough series from the outset.
"Right from Game 1, I never took those guys for granted," said Gibney. "I knew they were going to come out hard, but I never expected them to come out that hard, and fire that many pucks on net."
Gibney said he was particularly pleased with his team's effort in the third period of Game 5.
The Bruins won't have much time to savour the win over Flin Flon. Game 1 will be Saturday night in North Battleford, and Game 2 will be the following night. Estevan will host Game 3 on Tuesday night and Game 4 on Wednesday.
Game 5, if necessary, would be March 21 in North Battleford, Game 6 would be two days later in Estevan, and Game 7 would happen March 25 in North Battleford.
Estevan and the Battlefords played four times in the regular season, and each team won twice. Both of the Bruins' wins came in a shootout, while the Battlefords two victories came in regulation.
In their last trip to North Battleford, Estevan rallied from a 5-1, first period deficit to win 7-6 in a shootout. It snapped the Stars' 13-game winning streak.
Lewgood believes the North Stars are the best team in the league.
"There will be times in which we're on our heels, but we'll have to weather the storm and push forward," said Lewgood. "Confidence is one thing we have to play with. We do not go into North Battleford just to show up to play the Stars. We show up and take the game to them, and not let them take the game to us."
Daae said he's not overly concerned about fatigue stemming from the Flin Flon series.
"If I had two weeks off, I'd probably want to play three or four games in their, too," said Daae.
Defenceman Nick Egan and forward Michael Sagen missed Game 5 due to injuries, and defenceman Nolan Nicholas left Game 5 due to an injury as well. Egan and Nicholas are day-to-day, and Lewgood said Sagen might be ready to play in Game 3.