The Western Hockey League’s top team took another step towards their ultimate goal Friday night as the Winnipeg Ice punched their ticket to the WHL’s Eastern Conference Final.
Matthew Savoie scored two goals and the Ice doubled up the Moose Jaw Warriors 6-3 at Wayne Fleming Arena Friday night in Game 5 of their second-round series.
And now it sets up a showdown with the second-best team in the league, the Edmonton Oil Kings, who have yet to lose a game in the playoffs.
The Ice got off to a shaky start Friday, allowing Ryder Korczak to score just 46 seconds in and then a Thomas Tien goal with just over four minutes to go in the first put Moose Jaw up 2-0.
But Winnipeg showed why they’re never out of a game with their high-powered offence scoring the game’s next four goals.
Zachary Benson’s goal with 2:56 left in the first cut the lead to one which boosted the team, according to head coach James Patrick.
“If 2-0 keeps hanging around, it could be a long night, but he gets that goal and the bench erupted and spirits were lifted,” Patrick said.
And the Ice came out flying in the second as Savoie evened the game for Winnipeg 1:39 in.
Cole Muir would put the Ice ahead for good later in the period and Connor Geekie added another Winnipeg goal with less than five minutes to play in the second.
Moose Jaw would cut the lead to one a little later in the middle frame on an Atley Calvert powerplay goal, but that’s as close as they would come as Savoie and Mikey Milne scored in the third period to sew up the victory.
Daniel Hauser made 23 saves in net for the Ice.
Savoie said the team just stuck with the plan after a slow start.
“Our group was really positive on the bench, we had a lot of vocal guys keeping our spirits up,” Savoie said.
The highly-anticipated Ice-Oil Kings series begins Friday, May 20 in Winnipeg with Game 2 going the following night.
“We’ll do some more preparation on them this week and really get the systems dialed in for them,” said Savoie. “They play a physical game and we’ll have to up our intensity.”
The Oil Kings won three of four games against the Ice this year and Patrick expects a difficult series.
“We’ve played some real competitive games with them this year, and they can play any type of game,” said Patrick. “They have a lot of depth. It’s going to be a real challenge.”
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