The Humboldt Broncos kept their season hopes alive in a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the Flin Flon Bombers on Saturday night in Game 4.
In fitting fashion, it was the Captain, Kade Olsen who proved to be the hero, scoring the game-winner, and forcing Game 5. The victory cuts the Bombers' semi-final series lead to 3-1.
The Broncos fell into a daunting 3-0 deficit in the series following another one-goal loss in Game 3 on Friday. For the Broncos to stave off elimination, they now had to win four straight games against a talented and confident Bombers team.
On Saturday, they took the first step towards accomplishing that. However, it wasn’t for the faint of heart.
The Broncos built a 2-0 lead and controlled a lot of the play in the first half of the game. Lucas Ceccarelli opened the scoring, tipping in a point shot from Kade Olsen for his third goal of the playoffs in the first period. Then 8:05 into the second frame, Matthew Perkins scored his first career SJHL Playoff goal for a 2-0 lead.
2:45 later, Drew Kuzma cut the lead in half with his team-leading sixth goal of the post-season.
The Broncos held on to the lead for what was looking like would be the rest of the game, but then, the unthinkable happened.
In the dying seconds of the third period with the goalie pulled, Xavier Lapointe held the puck in the zone, gravitated all the attention towards him and fired a pass across the slot to Jaeden Mercier who fired a one-timer in the back of the net with just 5.9 seconds left.
The Whitney Forum in Flin Flon went haywire as the Bombers had miraculously tied the game, and temporarily squashed the hopes of the Broncos keeping their season alive.
Playoff overtime often provides unlikely heroes, but this time it was picture perfect.
Kade Olsen, the captain of the Broncos and one of eight 20-year-olds on the team fighting to keep their junior hockey careers alive, came through clutch.
Olsen jumped into the perfect gap in the neutral zone, turned the puck over, undressed defenseman Ryland Thiessen, and fired a laser shot over the glove of Cal Schell for the thrilling game-winner.
Rayce Ramsay was once again superb, stopping 32 of 34 shots.
The Broncos battle, without question, remains uphill. This victory, however, brings the series back to Humboldt with a stable full of momentum and belief.
Game 5 will take place in Humboldt on Tuesday, April 12th.