Matthew B. Pohl, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE – For the second time this season, the Lethbridge Men's Pronghorns sweep a weekend series, this time defeating the Manitoba Bisons on Saturday by a score of 6-3, preceded by a 4-1 win on Friday night.
Pronghorns Goalie Garret Hughson came up big once again for his team, stopping 52 of the 55 shots he faced. Manitoba's netminder Byron Spriggs turned aside 33 of his 38 shots against in the loss.
The Pronghorns would get the game's first scoring opportunity less than a minute into the game, when forward Justin Valentino would ring one off the left post of Bisons goalie Byron Spriggs.
However it would be the Bisons who would find the back of the net first on a high-pressing rush play, with Thomas Freeman scoring on the sprawling 'Horns netminder Garret Hughson just over a minute later.
Just shy of eight minutes into the frame, the 'Horns would find an answer to the Bisons early lead with Michael Grant's 3rd goal of the season, with help from Artisom Kalashnikov and Ryan Chynoweth.
The Bisons answered the call 45-seconds later with a goal of their own, off of a dazzling solo effort by Lukas Skrumeda, forcing his way through the slot between both 'Horns defenders before firing it glove-side on Hughson, restoring Manitoba's lead.
Manitoba would go on to kill off penalties that sent Skrumeda and Mackenzie Dwyer to the sin bin, but it didn't keep Lethbridge from finding an answer to the Bison's second tally. With just under five minutes left in the frame, Dalton Sward would get his second goal of the season to level the score once again, and that's how the first period would end.
The second period would start out much like the first, with the Pronghorns getting an early chance on Spriggs, this time on a breakaway with Sam McKechnie, but Spriggs would be up to the task and make the save.
Play would head back up the ice with a Bisons partial 3-on-1, but Hughson would follow the play perfectly and make the save to preserve the tied score line.
Shortly after the teams traded chances on the odd-man rush, Clint Filbrandt of the Lethbridge Pronghorns would break the deadlock with his second goal of the season on a tic-tac-toe play with Kalashnikov and Logan Mick setting up the play.
Manitoba would continue to put pressure on the pronghorns defense in the second half of the period, forcing Hughson to come up with a generous handful of saves, including a mesmerizing glove save with two minutes remaining in the frame, to keep the Horns ahead through two periods.
On the next play, Lethbridge would strike on the counterattack, with Mick getting his second assist of the game by feeding Jordan Roy for his third goal of the season on a 2-on-1 break in front of Spriggs, who couldn't get over to his glove side in time to make the save. This goal would give the Pronghorns a two goal lead heading into the third.
The third frame would start with a strong attacking presence from the Bisons, who hemmed Lethbridge in their own zone in the opening few minutes, increasing their shot tally in the process. The Pronghorns would fight the momentum shift with help from a hooking penalty taken by Brett Stovin, pressing the Bisons right back.
Both teams would continue to trade chances at either end of the ice, but defence would prevail for both teams, resulting in an uneventful first half of the third.
Just over halfway into the period, however, the Bisons would find the back of the net off a Lethbridge turnover at the far blue line, where Thomas Freeman would feed Jeremey Leipsic for his second of the season, beating Hughson five-hole to cut the lead by one.
Lethbridge refused to sit back and defend the lead; Torrin White would score his second of the season and second of the weekend, with another quality saucer pass from Valentino to send White on a breakaway in front of Spriggs, who would deke the goaltender on the backhand to secure the win tor the Pronghorns.
White would also tally an empty-netter with a minute left in the game to double the score for the Pronghorns and ensure that his team exits the weekend with a crucial four points.
With the pair of wins this weekend, the Pronghorns improve to 4-6-0 on the season, while the Bisons fall to 2-8-0.
The Pronghorns will be back at the Nicholas Sheran next Friday at 7:00 PM, where they will take on the University of Alberta Golden Bears. The Bisons will return to host the UBC Thunderbirds.
Photo by: MPP Photography