The Swift Current Home Hardware Midget Legionnaires didn't look like a team in the playoffs for the first time in six seasons today, beating the visiting Tisdale Trojans 7-1 to clinch a trip to the second round of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League postseason.
That's a three-games-to-one series decision for Swift Current. Next up are Notre Dame Hounds - fresh off sweeping the Saskatoon Blazers.
"I expect a very hard series," said Legionnaires forward Ty Muench, who had a hat trick in the win. "Notre Dame's a very deep team. We know we're going to have to play just as good as we played Tisdale, if not better, if we want to come on top versus Notre Dame, because they're a very good team."
The schedule isn't out yet, but the series could fire up late this week in Wilcox.
Notre Dame was the top team during the regular season, going 39-2-1-2 (wins, losses, shootout losses, overtime losses). Swift Current was fifth at 26-13-1-4 - just behind the 29-10-1-4 Trojans.
The Legionnaires took out Tisdale with an exclamation mark at the end of a hard-fought series, and they'll likely need more of what they brought to the ice tonight if they're going to knock off the Hounds.
"They've a very deep team, a very deep team, and they've got a real strong deep team," said Swift Current Head Coach Darren Evjen. "You know what, today we'll enjoy the win, and then we'll start putting a game plan together for them when we have to go to Notre Dame for that first one."
It was a two-goal game until the 14:38 mark of the second period, when Muench scored the first of his three, giving Swift Current a 3-0 lead. It was a play that came after Legionnaires goalie Cody Levesque made a big save. When play went the other way, Hunter Lamb fed Muench, who went forehand, backhand and in.
"The bounces haven't been going my way a lot this year, I've been getting a lot of rolling pucks and stuff, and finally I was just bearing down and making passes, and the puck was feeling it's way onto my tape tonight, I was just feeling it," said Muench.
Five players had multi-point outtings for the Legionnaires: Lamb had a goal and two assists for Swift Current, Rin Beny had two goals and one assist, Mkyllan Couture had a goal and an assist, and Mason Strutt had a pair of helpers.
The lone goal for Tisdale came from Davis Chorney to make it 6-1 with just over five minutes left in the third.
Swift Current had a 1-0 lead after the first, on a Beny goal, and were up three after 40 minutes following the a nice give-and-go tip-in by Lamb off a Jacob Piller pass and Muench's first of the game.
It was Muench's second of the game, scored shorthanded approaching the mid-way mark of the third period, that really blew the game open. Tisdale pulled netminder Roddy Ross for the extra attacker briefly afterwards, but didn't get anything going.
On top of the big shorthanded goal, the penalty kill was strong for Swift Current, killing all five Trojan man advantages.
"You really don't know how much you're going to have to kill in our league, so you've got to be good," said Evjen. "You've got to be able to penalty kill, and you've also got to be able to score on the power play and that's hockey. Our penalty kill has been really good this series, and that's important."
Swift Current had one powerplay goal on four chances, when Muench buried his third to make it 7-1 with 36 seconds left.
Levesque stopped 24 of 25 Tisdale shots, and Ross stopped 22 of 29 coming from Legionnaires sticks.