Entering the final three days of the Big Six Hockey League season, two ties at the top and middle of the league held the key to what the playoff matchups would look like, and Midale traveled to Bienfait to help open up the first of those two. Both teams had lost their last game in tight decisions, Midale 6-5 to Carlyle, and Bienfait 8-5 (two empty netters) to Carnduff. If that wasn't close enough for you, the teams were also tied at 18 points coming in, and this would be their second last game.
The Coalers would get a quick start as after a faceoff twenty seconds in, Keegan Malaryk would bring it down the left side of the ice and take the puck down to the bottom of the circle before sending a pass through the slot to the blue line where Preston Erickson would pick the puck up late on the rush, and fire a wrist shot passed Derek Tendler for the game's first goal.
Five minutes later, the Mustangs would come right back the other way when Grant Jensen would get the puck at his own blue line on the left side and send a pass through the centre of the ice to the opposite blue line, springing Garrett Sherlock on a breakaway. Coming down the right side, Sherlock wouldn't waste any time with any head fakes or dangles, but just fire a straight wrist shot under Zack Miller's glove to tie the game.
After one: 1-1
The two teams would continue to play a tight checking defensive game, especially as Bienfait took penalty after penalty in the second, but they would fight them all off and strike once again. After killing off their third power play in the row, the Coalers would get a three on two chance. Stephane Peloquin would take the puck down the left side and drop it to Jayden Storozuk in the middle, and he'd fire right through the defenders to put his team back up by one.
Both teams would battle more for the final five minutes of the period, but nothing else would hit the twine.
After two: 2-1 Bienfait
The third period would add into the animosity as less than two minutes in, the gloves would drop between Josh Gustafson and Hunter Piche in a heavyweight tilt with no clear winner, both guys landing solid punches before the officials stopped play.
After the puck dropped from the fight, the Coalers would take another shot at Tendler, and he would stop the play. While play was stopped, Levi Kress would get run into the boards by Grant Jensen. Kickley would come to his defence and immediately the two lines would come together. After the scrum, Kickley and Jensen would go to the box with ten minute misconducts, the extra penalty going to Midale.
After having their power play cut short, Bienfait would then defend the penalty kill off and come down the length of the ice once again. As the puck got cycled around in the Mustangs zone over and over before Matt Bourassa would fire a shot passed Tendler to put the Coalers up by two.
The Mustangs would pull their goalie, and take their timeout, but they couldn't get anything rolling at the end of a tight, hard fought game,
FINAL SCORE: Bienfait 3 - 1 Midale
With the win, the Coalers have practically locked up a first round playoff with the Carlyle Cougars, both teams with only a single game left. If the Coalers win and the Cougars lose, Bienfait could take the home ice advantage thanks to Bienfait having more wins and Carlyle having two overtime losses.
Midale drops to sixth in the league, and they have a possible matchup with either Redvers or Carnduff to start the playoffs, and they face off with Redvers on Friday.