Thunder Bay, Ont.
BUFFALOES STRIKE EARLY, BEAT MACS TO CLINCH SEMIFINAL SPOT
JASON LA ROSE
THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Braden Plaschewsky, Justin Ross and Marco Lopez scored goals in the first 12 minutes, propelling the Calgary Buffaloes to a 5-2 win over the Halifax Macs on Friday and a spot in the semifinals at the 2019 TELUS Cup.
The victory means the Buffaloes will finish third in the preliminary round and sets up a semifinal match-up against the Toronto Young Nationals on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m. ET).
The win also clinches a playoff spot for the Tisdale Trojans, who will meet the Cantonniers de Magog in the second semifinal (6 p.m. ET).
Calgary had all but locked up a playoff spot before the puck dropped but didn’t leave anything to chance, taking the game to the Macs – who needed a victory to advance – in the first period.
Plaschewsky needed only 58 seconds to find the scoreboard, corralling a centring pass from Ryan Shostak and slipping a quick shot underneath Halifax goaltender Liam Oxner.
Ross doubled the lead at 9:44, jumping on a rebound in the slot and going over the glove of Oxner, and Lopez banged in a second chance just 83 seconds after that to put the Atlantic Region champions in a massive early hole.
Dylan James made it a four-goal game 69 seconds in the second period, jamming in a loose puck in the crease after a shot from Sam Witt squeezed through Oxner, giving the Pacific titlists even more of a cushion.
The Macs finally got to Calgary netminder Garin Bjorklund when Liam Keeping snapped in a quick shot on a late-period power play, but Halifax went to the dressing room down by three.
Zach Byard added another man-advantage marker eight minutes into the third, getting a blast from the point through a maze of bodies, but that would prove to be the final goal of the Macs’ season.
Oxner went to the bench with more than four minutes to go and Halifax needing three goals to advance. The Buffaloes took advantage, with Heath Armstrong finding the empty net to finish the scoring.
Both goaltenders were tremendous; Oxner finished with 37 saves, while Bjorklund stopped 29 of 31.