The 2018-2019 SJHL season has come to a close for the Kindersley Klippers following last night's 3-2 loss in Game 5 to the Melfort Mustangs. The win for Melfort at the Northern Lights Palace gives them a 4-1 series win as they advance to the next round.
Klippers netminder Justen Close made 37 saves on 40 shots in his last game junior hockey. His opponent in the opposite crease, Noah Giesbrecht, provided 33 saves in his return between the pipes after he was unable to play in Game 4 due to an injury.
The top line for the Mustangs caused headaches for the Klippers in this one as they did all series. Tanner Zentner and Carson Albrecht put together the comeback goals for Melfort after Ty Enns opened the scoring for Kindersley on the powerplay early on in the game. The Mustangs duo came out of the gate in the 2nd period to put their team up 2-1 going into the 3rd.
There, the Mustangs were able to pad their lead even further thanks to the league's top scorer -- Justin Ball. Almost halfway through the period, Ball took a shot from the top of the left circle, wiring the puck past Close to make it 3-1.
With two minutes left in regulation and an empty net in Kindersley's zone, Caden Benson stuffed the puck past Giesbrecht right after an offensive faceoff, giving the Klippers hope late in the game at 3-2.
Unfortunately for the Klippers, it was too little too late, as the Mustangs held on to the very end for the 3-2 win to take the series on home ice. The loss marks the third straight season the Klippers haven't won a playoff series, their last coming during the 2016 playoffs when they beat the Notre Dame Hounds 3-1 in the first round.
Although, the Klippers managed to win their first playoff game in nearly three years during this series; a 2-1 overtime win back in Game 4 at the West Central Events Centre.
Friday's loss not only marks the end of the post-season for Kindersley, but the end of junior careers for eight 1998 born players on the Klippers.
- Justen Close (goaltender)
- Clay Keeley (defenceman - alternate captain)
- Blake Kleiner (defenceman)
- Tate Page (defenceman)
- Ty Enns (forward)
- Josh Fletcher (forward - alternate captain)
- Nate Keeley (forward)
- Cameron Shorrock (forward - captain)
On Wednesday evening, the Klippers will host their year-end banquet at the Kindersley Elks Hall, where they will also hand out their team awards for the season.
The Mustangs are the first playoff team to advance to the semifinals of the 2019 SJHL Playoffs. They'll await the winners of Humboldt versus Estevan (HUM leads 3-2), Battlefords versus Flin Flon (BNS lead 3-2) and Nipawin versus Yorkton (YOR leads 3-2) to see who they will face next.