The Maple Creek Senior Hawks’ season has officially come to an end.
The Frontier Flyers eliminated the Hawks after defeating them 6-3 in Game Three of the first-round survival playoff series at Maple Creek Community Arena Feb. 11.
Despite the scoreboard showing it as a three-goal game, Frontier scored two empty net goals as Maple Creek tried to make one final push to tie the game.
The third game of the series started off slowly for the Hawks, with Frontier scoring the first two goals of the opening period.
Maple Creek was able to answer back before the end of the frame as Dayton Reinboldt was able to bang home a rebound. Maple Creek trailed 2-1 heading into the second period.
Frontier was the only team to score in the middle frame, after Bryce Fossum fired home a shot off a perfect cross-crease pass from Liam Stenerson.
Maple Creek’s goalie, Chad Bachmeir, had no chance on the play.
The Hawks came out in the third period with a purpose, dominating possession.
Jason Roberts scored eight minutes into the third for the Hawks, with assists on the goal going to Kelly Leismeister and Lane Sanderson.
There were several chances through the rest of the third, including a post and a goal line toe save from Frontier goaltender Darcy French, but Maple Creek just could not buy a goal.
With eight minutes left, Frontier extended its lead to two goals when Jayden Balfour took the rebound of his own blocked shot and fired one past Bachmeir, putting the Flyers up 4-2.
A minute later, the Hawks brought it back within one. Nathyn Mortlock wired a slapshot from the point during a powerplay and beat Frontier’s French to make it 4-3.
That was as close as Maple Creek got though.
Frontier added a couple empty-netters before the final buzzer went, signaling the end of Maple Creek’s season. The final score had the Hawks lose 6-3.
At the end of the game, there was some pushing and shoving between the two squads, a recurring theme throughout the night.
“There’s a bit of bad blood between us and Frontier,” said Maple Creek team manager Len Rodin. “There’s a couple players on their team that are dirty and that’s all there is too it. We had a guy get speared in the first period. It’s the same guys that do this stuff all the time.”
Despite the bad blood, the teams met at centre ice and shook hands.
Rodin says he really thought the team was going to even things up.
“I still thought we were going to do it, but the bounces just weren’t happening for us tonight. They got a couple bounces, but we didn’t get any at all.”
“We had our chances, just couldn’t score,” he said.
Frontier goaltender Darcy French played a great game for the Flyers, Rodin added.
Maple Creek fell 7-6 in overtime for Game One of the series at home, but was able to force a Game Three after beating the Flyers 6-2 on the road. Overall
Rodin thought the team played a solid series.
“They played okay, just couldn’t get any breaks. Maybe they had to work harder to get those breaks too sometimes,” said Rodin.
He’s looking forward to bouncing back next season, he added.
“We were so much better than last year and next season we’re coming back stronger. That’s a guarantee,” he said.
Rodin also wanted to make note of the incredible crowd they had for the final game of the season.
“The fan turnout was fantastic. It was loud and very appreciated by the players,” he said.
The Flyers meanwhile will move on to the second round of the playoffs to take on the top-seeded Gull Lake Greyhounds (13-3).
“Our team is pretty excited to move on to the second round,” said coach Kent Webb.
The other series has Shaunavon facing off against the Cabri Bulldogs.