By Shawn Mullin, for swiftcurrentonline.com
One player scoring an overtime winner to complete a hat-trick would be notable enough. How about three?
For the third time in this playoff run the Swift Current Broncos got an overtime winner from a player finishing off their hat-trick and this time it was on the biggest stage.
Glenn Gawdin scored his third goal of the night just 2:40 into overtime as the Broncos erased a 2-1 deficit to beat Everett 3-2 and take a 2-1 lead in the WHL Championship Series Tuesday night.
“It feels good,” Gawdin said. “I’m happy we got the win, but we need two more.”
Gawdin’s feat comes on the heels of similar achievements by Matteo Gennaro against Moose Jaw and Giorgio Estephan in the Lethbridge series.
“He was OK,” joked Broncos Coach/Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros. “He’s been our guy all year. He’s always stepped up for us.”
Everett was 11-0 in the playoffs with a third period lead before Swift Current came back on them in back-to-back games.
“I thought tonight was our best game of the series,” Viveiros said. “We played real fast and got in on the forecheck. Everett played well too. It’s a fine line right now between winning and losing.”
The Broncos opened the scoring for the first time in the series as Gawdin took a terrific drop pass from Aleksi Heponiemi as they were crossing one another in the high slot and ripped a shot over Carter Hart’s glove.
Everett quickly tied it when Riley Sutter deflected in a rising point shot for his 8th of the playoffs. The Silvertips then took a late first-period lead as Matt Fonteyne threw a puck to the front of the goal and it deflected in off a Swift Current skate.
For a while it looked like Everett’s suffocating defensive play would win the day as it did in Game 1. Matteo Gennaro took a high sticking penalty late in the third period and things looked bleak for the Broncos until Gawdin struck shorthanded.
Beck Malenstyn drove the Everett defenders deep and Gawdin followed up with a shot that slowed on a deflected and gave Hart trouble. A diving Broncos captain was able to knock the rebound by Hart’s glove and secure the tie.
“We kind of did it to ourselves,” said Silvertips Coach Dennis Williams. “Especially that shorthanded goal. Their four guys outworked our five. When that happens you’re probably not going to win too many hockey games.”
In overtime Gawdin struck again after some hard work on the forecheck got him the puck in the slot and he beat Hart for his third goal of the game and 12th of the playoffs.
“For me, it’s just trying to get it off quick,” Gawdin said. “He’s a good goalie and he doesn’t get beat very often. Just good plays from my linemates. (Everett has) got to respect them and they made great plays to me.”
The loss was Everett’s third in a row on home ice and the first time anyone has beaten Everett in back-to-back games during the playoffs.
“I think just consistency,” Fonteyne said. “When we get up we can’t grip our sticks tight or change our game. We just need to continue what we were doing. I think just not overthinking it and just kind of playing our game.”
Stuart Skinner was strong again making 37 saves for Swift Current to earn the win, while Carter Hart stopped 29 for the Silvertips.
Skinner tried to keep an even keel as the Broncos got behind in the first period again.
“I think just kind of keep everything the same,” Skinner noted. “It’s a mental battle for sure. In Swift Current (Game 2) I thought I could have had both of those so it was kind of a tough way to start the game. That’s where your mental strength comes from. It’s all about how you get rebound control in the net and rebound control in my mind. I don’t want to be dwelling on how I let in a couple goals. Its been so far. I’ve been able to reset and I have a lot of faith in my teammates that if I shut the door the rest of the way they’re going to pop a couple in.”
Silvertips sniper Patrick Pajkov was used sparingly after an apparent injury late in the second period. There is no update on his status.
Game 4 is again in Everett on Wednesday night. You can hear it live on The Eagle 94.1 FM with Robertson Family Group Broncos Hockey at 7:30pm.