Darwin Knelsen

WHL recap: Minulin nets OT winner; Gauthier shuts down ICE

Swift Current 5 Prince Albert 4 (OT)

With Tyler Steenbergen out nursing an unknown ailment, the Swift Current Broncos (20-6-2-0) were going to need their newly acquired secondary scoring to step up. Matteo Gennaro did that in a big way Tuesday. He assisted on four of his team’s five goals as they came back to beat the Prince Albert Raiders (11-11-5-1) in overtime 5-4.

Artyom Minulin, who along with fellow defenseman Colby Sissons, was benched for some of the second period, got redemption in the form of the overtime winner. Glenn Gawdin looked up with the puck near the blue line and found a streaking Minulin, who beat Raiders goalie Curtis Meger, winning this tight intra-division battle.

Aleksi Heponiemi and Glenn Gawdin each added three points. Hepoiniemi’s trio put him firmly in first in the league with 69 in total.

Aleksi Heponiemi opened the scoring in the first with a power play goal.

Prince Albert got that one back 56 seconds later. Sean Montgomery teed up a slick feed from Devon Skoleski and beat Swift Current goalie Joel Hofer.

The Broncos then retook the lead with 10:23 left in the first off a marker from Connor Horning.

Two goals in the second period by the road team allowed the Raiders to take a 3-2 lead after 40. First, Jordy Stallard took a feed in the slot and squeezed the puck through Hofer for his 19th this season.

Then, Curtis Miske forced a turnover, raced the other way and backhanded a shot through Hofer’s five-hole for his seventh.

Swift Current then tied this game up yet again as Sahvan Khaira skated into the slot and wired one past Meger with only 10 seconds left in the second. The goal was Khaira’s fourth this year.

In the third period, the two teams would trade goals and again end the period tied, this time at four. Brayden Pachal put the Raiders up 4-3 after Sean Montgomery looped around the Broncos net and found him in the slot.

Gawdin tied the game and forced overtime with his 24th goal of the year with 6:20 left in regulation.

The table was then set for the first OT winner of Minulin’s WHL career and fifth marker this season.

Hofer stopped 35 of 39 in the Swift Current net, while Meger turned away 22 of 27.

The Broncos will head over to Calgary next for a match up with the Hitmen Friday, while Prince Albert hosts the Kamloops Blazers.

Prince George 3 Kootenay 1

Tuesday night in Prince George turned into a game of two young goalies going head-to-head with neither appearing to be willing to crack.

The Prince George Cougars (11-14-2-2) and their 16-year-old goalie Taylor Gauthier (40 saves on 41 shots) was able to outshine Kootenay ICE (13-16-1-0)  netminder Duncan McGovern (25 stops in 27 attempts) and take the game at home 3-1.

Josh Maser led the way offensively with two goals. 

Prince George got the game’s opening goal just a couple minutes in. It was the first WHL goal from import Pavel Azhgirei and it cam unassisted. The Cougars had plenty of other opportunities to add to their lead but they were turned away by McGovern. One of the chances was a two-on-zero break.

The ICE then tied the game off a miscue by Prince George goalie Tavin Grat. The netminder came out of the net to play the puck and was surprised by 16-year-old phenom Peyton Krebs’ speed. Krebs got to the puck first and tipped it past an out-of-position Gauthier.

8:43 into the third, Josh Maser notched his eighth of the year and the eventual game winner. He added an empty netter for his ninth.

Kootenay will travel to Victoria Friday for a game with the Royals, while P.G. will host those same Royals Sunday.

Kody McDonald was out  of the lineup, serving a three-game suspension for a “one man fight” vs. Vancouver last weekend.


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