LETHBRIDGE — Fans at the Nicholas Sheran Arena on Friday thought their Lethbridge Pronghorns finally had the Calgary Dinos on their heels heading into the final minutes of the third period, but the visitors rallied late to score in the third and again in overtime, taking down the Pronghorns 3 – 2.
First-star Matt Alfaro scored the game winner for the Dinos halfway through the first overtime period, winning the away leg of this weekend’s home-and-home series for the Dinos against the Pronghorns. Lethbridge’s Luke Coleman was given second star honours for scoring both of his team’s goals.
Calgary’s starting goalie Brodan Salmond turned aside 23 of 25 shots in the win, while Lethbridge’s Taz Burman made 54 saves in the overtime loss and was named the game’s third star for his effort.
Both sides played the puck with structured intentionality right from the onset. No turn-overs, no open-ice take-aways, and no defensive slip-ups were part of either team’s play in the opening ten minutes. The visiting Dinos managed five shots on Burman in that time, while Salmond saw three slip through his team’s defences.
Putting his number in the scoring column first was Calgary’s Luke Harrison, thanks to an offensive zone faceoff win by Tim Vanstone and a quick press by Chris Rauckman to get him the puck off the goal-line boards.
Harrison’s snapshot under the glove of Burman, his fourth goal of the season, broke the deadlock for his team. The Dinos headed into the first intermission with a one goal lead and a 17 – 9 shots advantage over the home side.
The second frame saw no changes in scoring despite two powerplay opportunities for the Pronghorns and one for the Dinos. Lethbridge only managed two shots on Salmond in those two chances, while Calgary placed three on Burman in their lone powerplay opportunity.
In the frame, Calgary duplicated their shot total from the first period, while Lethbridge only managed seven shots on Salmond. After forty minutes of play, the visitors continued to lead the hosts 1 – 0 on the scoreboard, and 34 – 16 on the shot clock.
Early in the third period, Calgary would see themselves on the receiving end of two penalty calls and a short 30-second five-on-three penalty kill. The Dinos were able to survive the Pronghorns two-man advantage but could not make it through the penalty kill before the ‘Horns netted their first of the game.
Following a failed breakout attempt by the Dinos, Lethbridge maintained possession of the puck. Landon Gross, in control of the puck, found Dallas Valentine at the high point and he fired a slap shot on Salmond, who made the initial save. Luke Coleman sat up front of the Dinos net and potted the rebound quickly to tie the game up at one.
Just over two minutes later, Lethbridge was gifted another powerplay opportunity, on which they also capitalized. After picking up Russell Maxwell’s missed shot, Coleman sent and received a pass from Torrin White that he one-timed past Salmond on the far-side top corner to give his team their first lead of the game.
Calgary’s share of the game’s momentum would lean in their favour nearing the end of the final frame when they pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. Cycling the puck in the offensive zone, Ryan Gagnon got the puck to Jordan Xavier, whose shot from the near-side point goes through a screen and past Burman, to tie the game and force the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, Calgary was able to secure momentum thanks to a penalty to Lethbridge’s Owen Guenter. While they were unable to score on the powerplay, a great breakout play kickstarted by Ryan Gagnon led to the game winner, just as Guenter left the box.
Dallas Hines received the push-up pass from Gagnon, sent a stretch pass to Matt Alfaro who shook off Wardley at the blue line, and Alfaro’s low glove-side shot fooled Burman to end the game in favour of the Calgary Dinos.
With Friday’s win, Calgary improves to 8-3-2 (18 pts) to tie the Saskatchewan Huskies (8-3-2, 18 pts) for third place in the Canada West conference and land one point behind the second-place Mount Royal Cougars (9-3-1, 19 pts).
Lethbridge (4-8-1, 9 pts) remains outside the playoff picture with the overtime loss, sitting two points behind the UBC Thunderbirds (4-5-3, 11 pts) for sixth in the Canada West conference.
The final game of the home-and-home series takes place Saturday, November 22, at the Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary, Alberta. Puck drop is at 6 PM. Catch all the action on www.canadawest.tv
, presented by Co-op.