With the Bisons leading 3-1 on the scoreboard with 8:08 to play and 1-0 in the best-of-three series, it appeared that some solid defensive ply would send the Bisons to BC to play the UBC Thunderbirds in the semi-final. Instead, Kylie Gavelin put the Regina Cougars on her shoulders as she willed her team into the rubber match of this three-game series.
She already had an assist on Carleen Meszaros' second-period power-play goal, and she would get one of her own in the third period. Alexis Larson's low shot into the slot area was deflected beautifully by Gavelin past Bisons netminder Rachel Dyck just 47 seconds after Manitoba took the 3-1 lead, and we had a game on our hands once more.
Late in the game with goaltender Toni Ross on the bench and six attackers on the ice, Gavelin went back to work. I had said repeatedly on the broadcast that the Bisons need to be aware of where Gavelin was on the ice, likening her presence to that of Alexander Ovechkin in terms of her goal-scoring prowess. Unfortunately, that memo never hit the Bisons' bench because Kylie Gavelin jammed home an Alexis Larson rebound with 27 seconds to play in the game as she skated into the scrum from the top of the right face-off circle unimpeded.
No one picked Gavelin up, no one checked her as she skated in on Dyck, and no one stick-checked her as she pushed the puck across the goal line to make it a 3-3 game, sending Game Two to overtime. As the Bisons players stared up at the rafters lamenting their misfortune, the jubilation on the Cougars' bench was unbridled. You could sense the tension in the air.
The first overtime period saw no goals scored, and I happened to mention at the start of the second overtime period that a goal would most likely be scored in the second overtime period thanks to the long change that the teams were being forced to make. Little did I know that my prediction would neither be the work of fatigue nor a line change miscue.
On a shot that would end up behind the net just over a minute into the second extra frame, Kylee Kupper recovered the rebound and threw it towards the slot. Rachel Dyck, who had slid across the goalmouth to defend against the shot from the point, had the puck bounce off the back of her leg and into the net.
Heartbreak for the Bisons. Celebrations for the Cougars.
Guess who was behind the net that poked that puck to Kupper as she was being checked? If you guessed #13 Kylie Gavelin for the Regina Cougars, winner winner.
Gavelin was in on all four goals for the Cougars tonight, and generally was causing havoc for the Bisons when she wasn't scoring and setting up goals. She is the leader for this Cougars team, and appears to be poised to be one of this country's best young players if her development continues. She's already one of the Canada West's best players in this writer's view, and she has given her team one more shot at eliminating the Manitoba Bisons tomorrow night.
Can you ask for anything more?
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!