The Grande Prairie Storm were 39 shots behind, but still only a shot away from tying a best-of-five Alberta Junior Hockey League quarterfinal at 1-1 on Friday.
And then Justin Young showed up . . . again!
Young scored on the Whitecourt Wolverines' 61st shot of the game 8:54 into overtime and the hometown team skated off with a 3-2 win and can now wrap up the series on Sunday in Grande Prairie.
Young's overtime tally was a good part of the game story, but a larger part of it was Storm goaltender Xavier Boughardt.
The 20-year-old Medicine Hat native put the Storm in position to pull the OT upset by making 53 saves in regulation play and another five in OT. If not for his regulation time heroics Young would not have been the OT hero. It would have ended in regulation.
“The difference maker was Burghardt,” said Storm head coach/general manager Matt Keillor. “He made some key saves at key times.”
Young, who had and assist too for a three-point night, had opened the game's scoring at 5:50 of the first. When Liam Motley scored at 18:42 to make it 2-0 thought's of Thursday, when the Wolverines won 6-0, were no doubt going through the minds of many.
But the never-say-die Storm didn't scoring twice in unusual ways to tie the game.
Dolan Bjornson made it 2-1 scoring a shorthanded goal at 6:07 of the second and then team scoring leader Michael Clarke tied it to force the overtime netting a penalty shot goal with just 1:02 to go in the third period.
“We wanted to keep it close to have a chance to pull our goalie late in the third – we crashed the net hard and of the Whitecourt players knocked his own net off giving us a penalty shot,” said Keillor of the reason for Clarke's PS.
“In the biggest game of the year and the biggest moment we knew Clarke would get us one and he delivered.”
Xavier's body of work included facing 22 shots in the first, 18 in the second and 15 in the third to go with the half-dozen in the OT period.
Pierce Diamond at the other end had a much easier time of it -6-6-8-1 for a total of 23.
The Storm-Wolverines series features the largest spread of points between two teams in the playoffs. The second place Wolverines finished 51 points ahead of the seventh place Storm.
“Whitecourt is an incredibly fast and skilled team and we just ran out of gas in the end,” said Keillor. “We have to take the positives out of this that taking a team like that to overtime isn't an easy accomplishment.”
Home ice could make a difference and come Sunday Keillor is hoping the support will be there.
“We hope our fans come out and support these boys Sunday. They're very proud to be in this position (playoffs for the first time since 2013) and want to give our fans some well-deserved playoff hockey.”
Both teams were perfect on the penalty kill with the Storm surviving five Whitecourt man advantages and the Wolverines two by the Storm.
Game time Sunday at Revolution Arena is 7:30 p.m.
Keillor is hoping Storm fans can match the Whitecourt fans.
“It was a great playoff atmosphere in Whitecourt. The game was physical from start to finish.”
If the series goes to a Game 4 it will be played Monday at Revolution.