No, it’s not playoffs yet, as 12 out of 44 regular-season games still remain – however, once again, and much to the delight of those in attendance at the Gull Lake and Community Rec Complex for Hockey Day in Saskatchewan, the Home Hardware Midget AAA Legionnaires and Tisdale Trojans didn’t seem to get that memo on Saturday.
Coming off a close 3-2 loss this past Saturday up in Tisdale, another close, low-scoring, playoff-like match up was expected by the Legionnaires. That’s exactly what happened, as Swift Current exacted revenge in a tight 2-1 win in Gull Lake.
“It feels good,” said forward Reed Jacobson. “We were in Tisdale battling hard – third period just didn’t go our way and we gave it up. This time, we played good and shut them down. It felt good to get the win.”
In the gritty game, both teams were held off the board through the first frame.
The Trojans jumped ahead in the second, as the product of nearby Eatonia, Cade Hayes, scored his 16th of the season, and his team-leading 46th point on the man-advantage.
Tisdale’s go-ahead goal came just over two minutes into the second, and it took two-and-a-half after that for the Legionnaires to climb back into a tie.
Riley Dekowny ripped one past Trojans netminder Tanner Martin for his sixth of the season with 14:07 remaining in the second. Hendrik DeKlerk and Chase Gallant were credited with assists on the play.
That was all she wrote for scoring in the second period, in a game that looked destined to need an extra frame, or shootout to decide a winner.
Cue Reed Jacobson.
The Legionnaires alternate captain, and Swift Current product, scored the eventual game-winner with 9:34 remaining in the game, sneaking a slick backhander over the shoulder of Martin. Logan Linklater recorded the primary assist, while Dekowny added the secondary assist for the lone two-point game.
“Links got in there good, got the puck out, it kind of came out to me, and I just kind of put my backhand towards the net, let it fire, and it just happened to go in the net,” said Jacobson on the nifty winner.
Despite nearly going top-shelf on his backhand from distance, Jacobson noted that the Trojans don’t really give the opportunity for too many of those types of plays.
“They always battle hard, they send guys all over the ice, they pressure you hard, and don’t give you time at all,” he explained. “This time, we tried to get pucks deep whenever we could, pressured their D, and just got pucks on net whenever we could – you’re not going to make pretty plays against these guys.”
It seems like every time the @sclegion3 and @TisdaleTrojans meet, it's a playoff-like tilt.— Eric James (@eric_james_scol) January 20, 2019
This time the Legionnaires earned a narrow 2-1 win for their second-straight.
Reed Jacobson put home a slick backhander for the game-winner. Riley Dekowny added a goal and an assist. pic.twitter.com/fscS6Q0I0j
Ethan Hein recorded 28 saves in the win, as Legionnaires were edged 29-26 on the shot clock.
“I thought we played really good again today,” said head coach Darren Evjen. “There was a little section in the second where we turned some pucks over a little bit too much, but other than that, I thought our guys played really good – it’s just a hard battle out there.”
Swift Current was held off the board on all five power plays they earned, while keeping Tisdale to 1-for-5 on their respective PP opportunities.
A crucial stretch of the game came late in the third where, holding onto the lead by a thread, the Legionnaires all but eliminated the Trojans’ bid of game-tying goal, and not allowing Martin to exit the net for an extra attacker until under a minute remaining in the game.
“They created a few chances out there, but our D did a good job,” said Evjen. “Our D did well, but I think as a five-man group out there, we did a good job in the offensive zone, neutral zone, and D zone working together to make sure we try to keep them to the outside, and any pucks around the net, we’ve got bodies there to clean it up.”
With just the one game on the weekend, the Legionnaires are now off until Tuesday night, when they welcome the Notre Dame Hounds to the Innovation Credit Union iPlex.
“Our mentality is day-to-day,” admitted Evjen on his club, who now stands comfortably in fourth place at 21-10-1-0 on the season.
“Tuesday’s a new day – we’ve got to be ready to play. We’re starting to get on the other side of coin now and winning some games, so we’ve got to keep going as long as we can, and move up the standings – there’s lots of hockey left to be played, and this is the time you’ve got to play – you’ve got to win, and you’ve got to keep moving forward.”
After snapping a four-game losing skid on Thursday in a 5-0 victory over the Moose Jaw Generals, the Legionnaires are now owners of a two-game streak headed the other way.
“We finally got out of the mud there, that was good,” said Jacobson. “Now, we’re on a two-game win streak, so we want to keep that going, play good against Notre Dame on Tuesday, and just build up our game until playoffs come, and hopefully we can go far there.”
The Legionnaires and Hounds (16-10-2-1) face off at 7:45 p.m. from the iPlex.