Lakovic scores overtime winner as Warriors force Game 7 with win over Blades

The Moose Jaw Warriors and Saskatoon Blades are going to Game 7 in the Western Hockey League Eastern Conference Championship.

Lynden Lakovic scored at 2:57 of overtime to give the Warriors a 4-3 victory in Game 6 at the Moose Jaw Events Centre on Sunday afternoon, tying the series at three games apiece and forcing a deciding game in Saskatoon on Tuesday night.

It was the fifth game of the series to go to overtime, with the Blades having won three and the Warriors two.

    Moose Jaw needed to get off to a good start, and they couldn’t have asked for a better one.

    The team opted to start the grind line of Brayden Schuurman, Rilen Kovacevic and Ethan Semeniuk, and that trio got immediate pressure in the Blades zone off the opening face-off. It all led to Kovacevic sending a pass from the corner to the front of the net, and Schuurman would bang the puck home for the game’s opening goal only 38 seconds in.

    Saskatoon got that one back with 3:45 gone when Egor Sidorov was allowed to cruise around the Warriors’ zone before putting a shot on net from the blueline that found its way through traffic and in.

    Moose Jaw continued to press as the period continued, leading to Blades netminder Evan Gardner making a handful of huge saves to keep the game tied, including a stop on Matthew Savoie with five minutes remaining on what looked like a sure goal.

    All that pressure paid off with 2:02 remaining when Schuurman struck again, corralling a poke check by a Blades defender and putting a shot from the high slot top shelf glove side to give the Warriors a 2-1 edge.

    The two teams settled into a back-and-forth for the majority of the second period, with Atley Calvert putting up two of the best scoring chances when he worked his way to the front of the net on a pair of plays on the same shift, only for Gardner to make the save.

    The Blades received the first power play of the game with 13:55 gone when Savoie was hit with a tripping minor, and Saskatoon would capitalize when Rowan Calvert won a puck battle at the top of the crease and knocked the puck home with 4:14 remaining in the period.

    Saskatoon then took the lead with three minutes gone in the third when Trevor Wong outduelled a Moose Jaw defender breaking into the Warriors’ zone and got a pass to the front of the net for Charlie Wright, who beat his man to the net and jammed the puck five-hole on Jackson Unger.

    The Warriors received their first power play with 5:25 gone in the third when Tyler Parr slashed Brayden Yager’s stick out of his hands, but Moose Jaw had limited pressure and wouldn’t get a shot on net.

    A period that hadn’t seen the Warriors get a lot of breaks finally saw the home team get one when Kovacevic put a shot on net from the boards that found its way through traffic and past Gardner, tying the game 3-3 with 10:56 gone in the final period.

    Sure enough, that’s where things would finish off in regulation, and for the fifth time in the series, the two teams were off to overtime.

    There, the Warriors would finally break through after losing the previous three contests that went to extra time.

    Lynden Lakovic gloved down a breakout pass from Matthew Savoie at the Blades blueline, broke in to the right faceoff circle and put a perfect shot top shelf short side to end the game with 2:57 gone in overtime.

    Unger capped his outing with 33 saves, while Gardner had 35 stops at the other end of the ice.

    All eye now turn to Game 7, which will take place Tuesday night at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon. Game time is 7 p.m.

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