ROUND 2 GAME 4: Saints win series 4-0!
By: Adam Kulak
With an opportunity to clinch a spot in the third round of the AJHL Playoffs, the Saints did not waste it. They would score in the opening period and they would hang on to close out the 1-0 shutout victory in Game 4, defeating the Bonnyville Pontiacs in 4 games. With Dylan Bourlai sidelined with an injury, Grahame Gamache would make his playoff debut for the Saints, starting on a line with Alex Dalton and Cam Mitchell. Matt Davis and Colby Muise would both get the start as the Saints would look to finish Bonnyville off tonight in Game 4.
The first couple shifts of the period, it was a better start for Bonnyville in this game. They were doing a good job of defending well in the neutral zone, not letting the Saints to enter the zone with control very often. However, they still had trouble with the Saints forecheck and defensive play. The Saints couldn’t get a lot of controlled entries, but their puck pursuit was very strong, they got a lot of zone time off creating turnovers and they were able to get back to playing their game that they’ve been playing all series. Halfway through the period, Mackenzie Harden would let a shot go from the top of the circles and Nick Leyer would get a stick on it, giving the Saints the all important first goal of the game. The Saints had two early chances on the powerplay but couldn’t capitalize. Bonnyville did a good job of aggressively defending and made it hard on the Saints to gain the zone. Shots in the period were 20-9 Saints as the period would end 1-0 going into the second.
No scoring in the second period, the Saints continued to pile up the chances, but they were unable to solve Colby Muise as he would keep the game close. There were plenty of rebounds, but the Saints couldn’t get them in time, or they couldn’t get good enough shots off them. Bonnyville only got 5 shots in the period as the Saints defense continued to be rock solid, not letting them get shots through. The Saints powerplay continued to be snake bitten so far in this game. They had two more opportunities in the middle frame, but they just couldn’t finish on their chances and wouldn’t be able to extend their lead. That’s how the period would end, the Saints outshot Bonnyville 21-5 in the period as they head into the third period with a 1-0 lead.
It was a similar third period to Game 3 in that the Saints shut things down and limited Bonnyville to only 5 shots again. Bonnyville tried everything to get chances with their season on the line the total team commitment by the Saints to not let anything through and when they did get chances, Matt Davis was there to shut the door. Colby Muise did everything he could in this game to give his team a fighting chance, stopping 48 of 49 shots, he was locked in from the start. Unfortunately for him, his team just couldn’t find the tying goal. As Saretsky would flip the puck off the glass and out, the seconds would tick away, and the Saints would complete the series sweep over the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
Congratulations goes out to the Bonnyville Pontiacs, with an impressive 38-point improvement from last season to this season finishing 7th last year, to finishing 2nd in the division this season. You guys are a fantastic team, I know it was a 4-game sweep, but you guys should feel pride with the season and playoffs that you had, you made your organization and your entire fan base proud!
The Saints will get a good break before Round 3 as they will await the winner of the Sherwood Park/Fort McMurray series. They will be back in action Friday, March 29th for Game 1 of the North Division Final!