Cordel Larson gave the Moose Jaw Warriors a stranglehold on their first round series with the Saskatoon Blades.
The 20-year-old forward scored the overtime winner to lift the Warriors to a 3-2 win over the Blades in Game 3 on Tuesday night at SaskTel Centre.
“I’ve never scored an OT winner before, so to do it in playoffs like that, and kind of dramatic fashion after that tough goal in the in the third there, it feels good,” Larson said after the win.
The goal gives the Warriors a 3-0 lead on the best-of-seven series with a chance to finish off the sweep in Game 4 on Wednesday night.
The overtime winner was originally credited to Atley Calvert, who was in front of the net, but Calvert immediately pointed to Larson after the goal.
“You turn and fire and that’s how overtime goals usually go,” Warriors assistant coach Gord Burnett said. “I’m happy for all those guys, I actually don’t know how it went in, but they all count, so we’re happy to get the win.”
Calvert said it was huge to see the team rebound after giving up the tying goal in the final minute of regulation.
“We knew we were the better team all night and we just need that extra little push and we got it done in overtime,” he said.
Larson finished with a goal and two points in the win, while Eric Alarie and Martin Rysavy also scored for the Warriors.
Larson said the Warriors did a good job of resetting during the intermission heading into overtime after Saskatoon’s late tying goal.
“That’s the highs and lows of playoffs, things like that are going to happen, so it’s all about the group rebounding and staying focused,” he said. “We knew if we just stuck with it, we would eventually be rewarded.”
Saskatoon came out firing to start the first period and picked up an early power play goal from Jayden Wiens just 3:20 into the game.
The Warriors found their footing as the first period wore on and tied the game when Eric Alarie wired a shot past Blades goalie Nolan Maier with 1:45 left in the opening frame.
Martin Rysavy blasted home his first of the playoffs just 4:43 into the second period to give the Warriors the lead and control of the game.
Moose Jaw continued to pressure throughout the third period, but Saskatoon picked up a four-minute power play with just over three minutes to play and capitalized.
Brandon Lisowsky buried a rebound in front for the Blades’ second power play goal with 45 seconds to play, sending the game to overtime for the first time in the series.
The Warriors controlled the play in overtime, outshooting the Blades 6-3 and they finally broke through when Larson fired the puck on net and got a bounce into the back of the net.
Carl Tetachuk made 27 saves in the win, while the Warriors outshot the Blades for the third straight game, 37-29 overall on the night.
Moose Jaw was 0-for-5 on the power play in the game, while Saskatoon scored both their goals on five power play opportunities.
The Warriors won’t be letting off the gas going into the fourth game of the series.
“We just have to keep doing what’s given us success and that’s grinding these guys down low, not giving them anything off the rush and we got to take a few less penalties,” Larson said. “We just need to keep with our structure and do what works for us.”
Burnett said the team knows that it won’t be easy to close out the series on Wednesday.
“We only need to win one more, but that’s the hardest game to win,” he said. “Keeping them focused, making sure that they’re ready to go, making sure they get their rest and recovery is vital.”
The Warriors and Blades face-off for Game 4 at 7 p.m. at SaskTel Centre.