Gennaro completes hat trick in double-overtime thriller

It was another eventful evening as the Swift Current Broncos hosted the Moose Jaw Warriors at the iPlex.

Considering how well each goalie has done defending the crease for their team, it is no surprise Stuart Skinner and Brody Willms were relied upon to uphold their respective nets again. Before this game, Willms had a save percentage of 0.873 so far in these playoffs while Skinner was holding steady at 0.918.

Moose Jaw Warriors goalie Brody Willms. (Andy Devlin)

The first 20 minutes was full of physical play by the Broncos. Andrew Fyten, Colby Sissons, Tanner Nagel, and Kole Gable made big, physical plays throughout the period. Tyler Steenbergen proved that he wouldn’t be pushed around at the beginning of the game by making a huge hit in the Moose Jaw zone. Not long afterward, he took a puck to the upper body during a shot on net by Sahvan Khaira. Steenbergen made his way down the tunnel and wouldn’t return for the rest of the game. Max Patterson took over for Steenbergen on the first line. During a penalty to Kale Clague for hooking on Aleksi Heponiemi, Glenn Gawdin passed the puck out front of the net to Giorgio Estephan. Estephan then shovelled it to Matteo Gennaro and the home team was up 1-0. With Tanner Jeannot in the box for cross checking and Tanner Nagel in for unsportsmanlike conduct, the period ended with the Swift Current Broncos leading by one goal.

Andrew Fyten took an early high sticking penalty and gave Moose Jaw a chance to even the score but the visitors couldn’t do it. Matteo Gennaro had a short handed chance but Brody Willms denied him. Swift Current struggled on their power play when Jayden Halbgewachs went off for high sticking. The score remained 1-0. Near the middle of the period, Kale Clague put the pressure on Skinner with a couple shots of his own. Once in possession of the puck again, he passed to Brett Howden at the side of the net. Howden took a shot, which was deflected into the net by Tanner Jeannot and the score was tied 1-1. Brody Willms gave the Broncos a chance to regain their lead when he tripped up Andrew Fyten at the net. Brayden Burke served the penalty. But, as it sometimes happens in hockey, Swift Current couldn’t capitalize on the power play and the momentum swung the other way. Stuart Skinner was surprised by a shot from Jett Woo at the side of the net and Moose Jaw took the lead 2-1.

Swift Current’s Matteo Gennaro, left, tries to race away from Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Kale Clague. photo courtesy Lucas Punkari/Battlefords News-Optimist

To start the third period, at the tail end of the Jett Woo penalty from the middle frame, Aleksi Heponiemi passed to Matteo Gennaro in front of the net. Gennaro took a shot and buried one past Brody Willms to tie the game 2-2 early in the period. Swift Current had a renewed sense of offense after that goal. The Warriors best chance on net came from Brandon Shuldhaus when he took a shot that hit the post after his stick broke. With less than two minutes left in regulation, Glenn Gawdin took a hit from Jett Woo that went uncalled. Soon after, Gawdin touched one if the linesmen and was sent down the tunnel and handed a 10-minute misconduct, which filtered into the first overtime period.

The first 20 minutes of overtime was just not enough to finish this game as both teams battled hard. Exhaustion was beginning to set in and some of the players started making minor mistakes, but nothing significant enough to allow the opposition to win. The second overtime period was more of the same. Both teams battled hard against fatigue and so did the fans. Even though the chanting in the crowd was consistent throughout the second overtime, at times it was faint. But neither the team nor the fans gave up. And it paid off in a big way.

It took the magic of double overtime to show exactly what this series is made of. With less than two minutes remaining in the period, Kaden Elder won a puck battle along the side boards and shovelled a pass to Matteo Gennaro. Gennaro fought his way in front of the net and buried it behind Willms to get not only the game winning goal, but a hat trick as well. The Swift Current Broncos won 3-2 over the Moose Jaw Warriors in second overtime to tie the series 2-2. Stuart Skinner made 51 saves on 53 shots while Brody Willms made 40 saves on 43 shots.

The next game will take place in Moose Jaw on Friday, April 13 and then Game 6 will return to Swift Current on Saturday, April 14.

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