In a battle to remain undefeated, it was Lennoxville’s J.F.Gagnon who carried his team to victory over Humboldt by a 5-4 score.
Gagnon’s third goal of the night, scored in double overtime assured his team a spot in Saturday’s semi-final.
The victory did not come without some of the dramatics attributed to overtime games though. Humboldt’s Orrin Hergott seemed to have ended the game just shy of two minutes into the second overtime, and Humboldt’s Scott Degelman took a match penalty for slashing defenseman Mathieu Pelletier hard across the wrist in the second OT.
Hergott took the puck from behind the Cougars goal and stepped in front of goalie Jason Smith before snapping a shot on goal.
It wasn’t meant to be.
Officials discussed the shot with the goal judge who ruled the puck had not crossed the threshold.
The disallowed goal set the stage for Gagnon and his Cougars to earn their second double overtime victory in two games.
“We’re happy because we are working hard and going into overtime is hard for the body, but we stayed in good shape during the season and that shows,” he said.
Degelman’s penalty set the stage for a Cougar victory.
“It’s the best chance we could have, we have to take our chance when we have it,” said Gagnon.
Lennoxville coach Stephan Lebeau said a disallowed goal is part of the game.
“In junior hockey lots of things can happen, I said that on the goal they refused. You have to be ready and you have to stay focused and calm, it’s very important,” he said.
Hergott said the disallowed goal was the turning point.
“I think it kind of sunk us a little bit, but at the same time we knew we couldn’t worry about it, the call it made and you can’t change it,” he said. “I thought it was in, I shot the puck I thought it hit the middle bar.”
An action packed first period saw the teams battle to a 2-2 tie. The Broncos scored first, with point-man Craig Olynick putting a powerplay goal past Smith on a two-man advantage
Exhibiting great puck control on their powerplays, Humboldt was able to control much of the period.
Lennoxville battled back to knot the game at one by using their trademark speed and passing. Christian Duquette sent a pass from blue line to blue line sending Gagnon on a breakaway, which he would capitalize on.
The Cougars would quickly go ahead by one on a soft goal. Duquette took a neutral zone pass from teammate Mathew Oke, then stepped over the blue line and put a 20-foot blast by Broncos goaltender B.J. Sklapsky, who never reacted.
Not to be outdone, the Broncos scored again, this time an even-strength goal. Once again displaying great puck control, Humboldt was able to turn a harmless shot on net into a goal on a tip by Jeremy Wray. The shots were 14-11 for Humboldt.
The second was dominated on the ice by the Cougars, but they were unable to pull away from the Broncos after both teams traded powerplay goals.
At just 1:19 into the period, with Cougar captain Pierre-Luc Gosselin in the penalty box for holding, Orrin Hergott put the Broncos ahead scoring on a goalmouth scramble.
Lennoxville countered when offensive-minded defenseman Mathieu Pelletier was able to walk in on Sklapsky from the blue line without being touched before putting the tying goal over the fallen netminder.
For the remainder of the period it was all Lennoxville who out shot their opponents 20-6 for the period.
In a period that saw players dropping in front of slap shots and Bronco forward Josh Podaima dive over a Cougar defenseman trying to tip a puck past Smith, the two teams once again traded goals, sending Lennoxville into their second overtime in two games.
Lennoxville seemed to be in command for much of the period. J.F. Gagnon scored his second goal of the game at 8:54, giving his team a chance to play out the period and improve to 2-0.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, Humboldt defenseman Keith Reade had different plans.
With 1:20 remaining in the game Reade took a pass near the blue line, sidestepped a Cougar defender, then stepped between the circles and rifled one over Smith’s glove, sending Broncos fans into a frenzy.
The first overtime solved nothing. It was the second OT providing the drama.
A goal apparently scored by Hergott was called back, shifting the momentum the Cougars’ way.
It was then Degelman slashed Pelletier across the forearm and wrist area, causing him to be assessed a match penalty, a five-minute major with a game misconduct.
Lennoxville wasted no time. Gagnon took a tipped pass from his brother Charles Gagnon and proceeded to end the game.
Lennoxville (2-0) will now face Camrose (0-1) 2 p.m. on Wednesday.. Humboldt (1-1) plays Charlottetown (1-1) Wednesday at 7 p.m.