It was a wild finish to what was a competitive game between the Martensville Marauders and the Warman Wildcats, but the Marauders escaped with a narrow 6-5 victory in Game 1 of the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League Playoffs, north semifinals.
Martensville relied on late game heroics for the home-ice win on March 12.
“I fully expected that they (Warman) were going come with everything they have and they did,” said Martensville coach Shaun Priel. “We let off the pedal at the beginning of the third period and they got a couple of goals … but we stuck with the plan and kept pushing.”
The Wildcats were in prime position for the win, leading 5-4 with just over a minute left in the game, however, Brayden Yager of the Marauders netted one to tie it up.
“He’s a goal scorer, and he had multiple chances to score today. I was happy for him that he got the one at the end because most games he buries the chances that he gets,” Priel said.
Martensville then followed that up with the game winning goal after Hunter Mayo scored on a slap shot from the blue line with 27 seconds remaining in the third period.
“I’m happy for Hunter that he got that one, and the goal was scored because we had net front presence,” Priel said.
The Wildcats actually scored first in the opening period, after Zach Fahl found the back of the net and Warman had momentum early on in the contest. Warman had an opportunity to build on that momentum on the power-play but a short-handed goal from Riley Heidt got the Marauders back into the game.
With the matchup tied 1-1 in the middle frame, Heidt and Brayden Barnett found the back of the net for the Marauders to give the home team a 3-1 lead. The Wildcats had multiple scoring chances throughout the period, but Warman goalie Brayden Schenstead kept his team in the game.
“He’s definitely a huge part of the reason why we’re this far (into the post-season).,” said Wildcats coach Ryan McDonald. “With your goalie, you can always rely on him to make some of those big saves and bail you out, and he’s doing that for us right now.”
Late in the second period, Carter Sachs scored to pull Warman within one goal.
Parker Lalonde found the back of the net for Warman within the opening minute of the third period, and few minutes after that, goal Mesele Klassen netted one for the Wildcats, to give his team a 4-3 lead.
The Marauders responded after Heidt lit the lamp for the hat-trick. However, the Wildcats capitalized on a Martensville turnover in the neutral zone to take a 5-4 lead. Tre Fouquette was the goal scorer.
Even though the game didn’t turn out the way Warman wanted to, the Wildcats put up a strong effort
“When we keep it simple and we get to work and we get pucks in and go at them (Martensville) we’re very effective. I thought we pushed them right to brink,”McDonald said. “When you look at the regular season games against theses guys, today was totally a tale of different tape. So I’m happy with way we performed tonight.
Game 2 of this best-of-three series is on Friday, March 15 at the Legends Centre in Warman and both teams plan to bring their ‘A’ game.
“Their backs are against the wall, they’re going to come out swinging and we got to make sure we’re ready to go,” Priel said.
“We showed all of Martensville and Warman what we’re made of and what we can do and I can tell you that we’re going to be ready to go for Game 2 on Friday night,” McDonald said.