With their backs against the wall in their Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League North Division first round series with the Saskatoon Generals, the Prince Albert Venice House Pirates used the home crowd to their advantage.
In front of a packed audience at the Kinsmen Arena on Wednesday, the sixth seeded Pirates erased a 2-0 deficit with four unanswered goals on their way to a 4-2 triumph that evened up the best-of-three series at a game apiece.
“The sold-out crowd was great to see,” Pirates head coach Rod Dallman said. “The guys were really excited when they heard all of the horns going off before they took to the ice.
“We were happy with our game in Saskatoon on Monday (when the Generals picked up a 5-2 win) but we just emptied the tank tonight. It was a do or die game and the entire team came out strong.”
The turning point of the contest came with just 40 seconds left in the middle frame as Ashton Tait scored the first of his two goals to help kick start the Pirates comeback
“That was definitely a game-changer, especially as it came so late in the second,” Dallman said.
“I think that allowed us to earn the win as we just started to slowly take the game over as the third period went on.”
Tanner Howe had a goal and two assists to lead the way for the Pirates, who also got a pair of helpers from Roper Blanchard, a goal from Brady Smith and a 33-save outing from Jayden Kraus.
Reid Andresen paced the third ranked Generals on offence with a goal and an assist each, while Nate Allardyce also scored and Ayden Oliver stopped 28 shots.
Blanchard and Theran Lysitza proved the goal scoring in Monday’s series opener, which saw Frank Chaboyer make 28 saves.
Logan Pickford had three goals and an assist for the Generals, who received a goal and three assists from Tyler Phipps.
Kaden Johns had the other goal for the hosts and Alex Garrett turned aside 19 shots.
Both sides will take to the ice one more time on Saturday for the series decider, which will get underway at the Gordie Howe Kinsmen Arena in Saskatoon at 5:30 p.m.
“The Generals have two very strong goaltenders and they make it hard to get goals on them,” Dallman said. “They also have two guys (Andresen and Caden Price) who are exceptional on the backend. They have a lot of speed and they make it hard for teams to get anything going on the forecheck.
“I thought we did a really good job tonight of getting the puck over the redline and making good decisions out there. We’ll need to do that again in Saskatoon Saturday.”
The quarter-final round opponent for the winner of the Generals and Pirates series will be finalized after this weekend.