by Stephen Dafoe
The Twitter hashtag #feartherustlers did little to shake the Morinville Kings’ confidence Saturday night. Trailing 2-0 in a best-of-five semifinals series, Coach Wayne Gatza offered a wink and a nervously confident, “We’ll win tonight,” as he headed to the bench at the start of the game.
Twenty minutes later, the Kings were leading 3-0 after contributions from Tom Brenna, Blake Grainger and Kyle Harris, the latter two on powerplay opportunities.
With a three-goal lead buffer for the middle frame, the Kings found themselves lose a third of that margin after the Rustlers pocketed one on the powerplay. But Brennan answered that challenge in the third period when Red Deer had a player in the box.
In the end, the Kings took 50 chances to Red Deer’s 77 giving Kings’ backstop Ty Swabb another great night between the pipes. Swabb is currently sitting with a 94.4% save record in his five playoff games so far.
The Kings need to sweep the remaining two games to advance to the Vanburg Cup finals.
Game four is on the road in Penhold Saturday, Feb. 29 at 7:30 p.m.
The other NCHL semifinal contest has Daysland leading Fort Saskatchewan 2-1. Game three of that series will be played in Daysland Feb. 29.
PHOTOS FROM SATURDAY NIGHT’S GAME