Briercrest’s comeback effort falls just short against Keyano

Posted: September 26, 2015

Briercrest continued to show progress in many aspects of the game, but Saturday's rematch against the Keyano Huskies saw a valiant comeback attempt fall just short as the visitors were able to escape with a 4-3 victory.

Playing a tighter defensive game from the get-go, Briercrest did a better job of limiting quality scoring chances than in the previous tilt. Keyano did manage to strike first, however, capitalizing on a good rush to open a 1-0 lead. The home team clamped down after that and created several excellent scoring chances. Taylor Epp had a partial breakaway, and Jacob Baribeau threatened while shorthanded, but Keyano goaltender Dustin Nikkel turned the shots aside. A determined forecheck by Brennan Gasmo drew a penalty, but the Huskies were able to withstand the pressure and take the lead into the break.

Briercrest carried the play early in the second period as well, with Josiah Friesen driving hard to the net to force a defender into taking another penalty. The Clippers buzzed on the ensuing powerplay but weren't able to find an equalizer. The home team then got into some penalty trouble of their own, giving Keyano a two man advantage. This time it was Christian Mueller coming up with brilliant saves and Marvin Powell getting a stick on a labelled shot as Briercrest prevented any further damage. They were not so fortunate in the late stages of the period, however, as Keyano added two goals- including a heartbreaker with one second left- to lead by three going into the third.

It would have been easy to mail it in for the rest of the game and call it a weekend, but Briercrest came out flying in the final stanza. Josh Peters set the tone early with a great hit while backchecking, and Briercrest's strong physical play and hard work soon paid off in the form of a 5-on-3 man advantage. BJ Pirus and Josh Dufresne got the puck to Taylor Epp, who ripped a shot past Nikkel to get Briercrest on the board. Before that goal could even be announced, Keyano responded with a shorthanded marker on a defensive breakdown for Briercrest. Extraordinary mental toughness was exhibited by Briercrest, as they shook off the discouragement and struck for two more goals within a minute, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Josh Anderson had the first, assisted by Jacob Baribeau and Josh Dufresne. Brett Lafond, from Epp and Dufresne, had the second to make it 4-3. A rattled Keyano bench called timeout, and everyone in the rink was on the edge of their seats. A late double minor against Keyano for a dirty hit ratcheted up the tension even more. The Clippers were skating hard, composure on both sides showed signs of fraying, and lots of rubber was thrown at the Keyano net, but Briercrest couldn't find the tying goal and fell just short.

Though the end result wasn't what the home team wanted, there was still plenty of work ethic, sportsmanship, and skill shown by Briercrest. Huskies coach Tommy Fitzpatrick was impressed by what he saw from Briercrest: "They're always a pretty class-act team, they're always pretty respectful… They got a good, hardworking team over there. They compete hard every shift, it doesn't matter what the score is- they're giving 100%…" 

Players of the game were Josh Dufresne for Briercrest and Dustin Nikkel for Keyano. Briercrest heads to Red Deer next weekend for a pair of games against the Kings.

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