Eoin Colquhoun, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE, AB – With the playoff lives hanging in the balance, the Lethbridge Pronghorns put an end to a season high six game losing streak with a solid performance and skated to a 5-2 win over the UBC Thunderbirds.
The Pronghorns offence was paced by five different goal scorers, as Mitch Maxwell, Justin Valentino, Dalton Sward, Clint Filbrandt and Ryan Chynoweth each picked up singles. Nick Buonassisi and Antony Bardaro replied for the Thunderbirds.
With huge playoff implications on the line the pace and physicality was frantic in the early going but the Pronghorns' best chance early came from Arty Kalashnikov in the slot, but he would be denied by the UBC goalie Derek Dun.
However, the 'Horns would strike first as Mitch Maxwell and Ryon Moser would dial up a give and go on the half wall, with Maxwell coming out front beating Dunn high glove, while on the power play.
Best chance late for the Thunderbirds came from Joe Antilla as he would break in all alone but "Horns netminder Garrett Hughson would come up with a big blocker save to keep the 'Horns leading after the first. Shots would slightly favour the 'Horns 10-8 after the first.
The pace would continue early in the second but with the team's trading penalties, the pace slowed; it turned out to be in the Pronghorns favor. With the 'Horns on a two-man advantage, Valentino banged home his team leading 14th goal of the season to double the Pronghorns lead.
The Pronghorns would continue to press as Dalton Sward would go hard to net on a three-on-two rush, gathering a rebound and potting his eighth of the season to give the home side a 3-0 lead.
Clint Filbrandt would add to the Pronghorns lead under three minutes later, as he would receive a cross ice pass from Valentino in the Thunderbirds zone and capitalize on his opportunity to give the 'Horns a 4-0 lead.
The Thunderbirds would get a goal back late in the second, Buonassisi grabbed a rebound off a Josh Connolly shot and pick up his second of the season.
Looking to keep the Pronghorns playoff chances in sight, Garrett Hughson would come up with some timely saves early in the third to keep the game at 4-1, but Thunderbirds would narrow the gap with just under six minutes to play. Off a goalmouth scramble in front of Hughson, Bardaro would eventually find the puck in the crowd and bury his 12th of the season to cut the Pronghorns lead to two.
On a T-Bird power play with less than three minutes remaining, Hughson made multiple saves to preserve the Pronghorns lead.
UBC would take a late penalty, and Chynoweth capitalized with a late empty netter, for his first Canada West goal, to seal the Pronghorns first win of 2017.
Garrett Hughson finished the night with 27 saves, while at the other end, Derek Dun turned aside 22 shots in the loss.
The Pronghorns and T-Birds will hit the ice in another near playoff like game tomorrow afternoon, puck drops at Nicholas Sheran Arena at 1:00pm. Catch all the action on www.canadawest.tv.