Saturday, 5 May 2018

Miracle at the i-Plex – Estephan’s OT winner caps crazy Broncos comeback over Silvertips

Giorgio Estephan, centre, celebrates his overtime winner for the Broncos.
    SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. – It might not be enough to pound a stake through their heart or shoot them with a silver bullet to do in the Swift Current Broncos.
    On Saturday night in Game 2 of the WHL Championship series, the host Broncos fell behind 3-0 in the first period to the visiting Everett Silvertips.
    The Broncos scored once in the second to pull within 3-1 and dodged bullets at the end of that frame and early in the third to remain two goals back on the scoreboard.
    The Broncos scored twice in the third with star right-winger Tyler Steenbergen potting the equalizer to force a 3-3 tie with 1:37 to play in the frame and netminder Stuart Skinner pulled for an extra attacker.
Netminder Carter Hart got over anxious with the puck resulting in a loss.
    At the 9:27 mark of overtime, the Broncos charged into the Everett zone on a rush. Silvertips netminder Carter Hart stopped a shot from Broncos centre Matteo Gennaro, and during the frantic action, Hart quickly cleared the puck up ice only to put it on the stick of Broncos forward Giorgio Estephan.
    Before Hart could react to what he did, Estephan fired home his 12th goal of the post-season to give the Broncos an improbable 4-3 victory and send a sellout crowd of 2,890 spectators at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex into a raucous frenzy.
    “I was just kind of lucky the puck rolled to me, and I got to put it home,” said Estephan. “It is definitely one that I would say we were pretty fortunate to be able to get that goal and this win.
Tyler Steenbergen (#17) celebrates his third period equalizer.
    “Skins (Skinner) kept us in the game, and that is all from him. I think we are just more of a team that is resilient. We definitely battled for that tough one tonight.
    “Everyone played a great part in that game.”
    Estephan’s goal helped the Broncos tie the best-of-seven series 1-1. Game 3 is set for 7 p.m. local time on Tuesday at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Wash.
    The win by the Broncos marked the first time the Silvertips had lost on the road in the 2018 post-season having won their previous eight road games.
    The Silvertips built their 3-0 lead in the first period with singles coming from the sticks of Matt Fonteyne, Martin Fasko-Rudas and Riley Sutter. Fasko-Rudas’s goal was a tough one for the Broncos side to take, because the Skinner got a piece of the puck with his glove only for it to go into his net.
    Everett had a 17-10 edge in shots on goal after the opening 20 minutes.
Matteo Gennaro had the first goal in the Broncos comeback.
    With the Silvertips hosting Games 3, 4 and 5 of the series, Steenbergen said his side did not want to go to Everett dropping the first two games of the best of seven set.
    “Going into the second and third, we just thought that there was no way that we were going to let this one slip,” said Steenbergen. “I think our mindset in the room we were all positive.
    “We weren’t getting on each other. Moving forward from the first period, I think that we just had the mindset that we weren’t going to lose this game, and we couldn’t lose this game.
    “It was one of those must-win feelings for us. It felt like a Game 7.”
    Matteo Gennaro scored for the Broncos at the 8:17 mark of the second period to cut the Silvertips lead to 3-1.
Captain Matt Fonteyne had the Silvertips first goal of the night.
    Inside of the final minute of the second, Skinner stoned Fonteyne on a tough screen shot, and after the Broncos went on a power play, Skinner turned away Silvertips left-winger Connor Dewar on a short-handed breakaway.
    Early in the third after the Broncos power play expired, the Silvertips had two big chances to score on a rush. Everett centre Riley Sutter was stop on drive to the Broncos goal and the rebound of his shot went to Dewar as a net scramble ensued.
    The product of The Pas, Man., was denied on a paddle stop by a diving Skinner.
    “Skinner is playing very well,” said Fonteyne. “He was the WHL goalie of the month (in April) for a reason.
    “He is going to make big saves. I think we just need to keep throwing the puck on net and keep going. We can’t get too hung up on a good player making good plays.”
Colby Sissons scored for the Broncos in the third period.
    At the 6:22 mark of the third, Broncos offensive defenceman Colby Sissons fired home a shot from the point to cut the Silvertips edge to 3-2.
    That set the stage for the dramatics with Steenbergen’s equalizer and Estephan’s winner.
    Before Estephan could score his winner, Skinner turned away Silvertips Centre Riley Sutter on a powerful rush to the net and stoned right-winger Garrett Pilon on a slot drive.
    When the dust settled, Skinner turned away 40 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Broncos. Hart stopped 34 shots to take the setback in net for the Silvertips.
    “We put ourselves in an opportunity to obviously win it in regulation,” said Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams, who club finished third overall in the WHL’s regular season standings with a 47-20-2-3 record. “Credit to Swift Current for playing the way they have all season, and they kept coming at us.
Connor Dewar (#43) was snakebitten around the net for the Silvertips.
    “When we went into overtime, it was as simple as it will take one shot. We’re in a good spot I told them. Obviously, we are trying to continue to stay positive throughout it.
    “It was a bit of a stinger there for our group, but again, it is something that we can definitely look at and learn from and comeback with a better effort on Tuesday.”
    Broncos head coach and director of player personnel Manny Viveiros was pleased to see the resilience of his club.
    “I thought Everett played very well again tonight,” said Viveiros, whose club finished second overall in the WHL regular season with a 48-17-5-2 mark. “They could have easily won that game.
    “There was no question we were fortunate, but we were also very happy with the way we responded and came back and battled. That is something we have been doing all season long and all playoff long.
Broncos fans cheer their team’s OT winning goal.
    “You have to be able to believe, and I am very proud of the kids.”
    Estephan’s goal on Saturday was his second overtime winner scored at home in the playoffs, and the overager from Edmonton, Alta., admits it feels special to be part of his team’s long post-season run.
    “I’m just thrilled to be a part of it and be in the city,” said Estephan. “Their energy the last few games towards our team and towards us winning, it has been great.
    “I think it makes any player love to come to the rink every day and any player love to play in front of their fans. That is kind of more where it comes from for me for sure.”

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