Stuart Skinner made 36 saves for his third shutout of the playoffs as the Swift Current Broncos beat the Moose Jaw Warriors 2-0 in Game 5.
Swift Current's netminder made some huge saves early and played a poised game the whole was as his team delivered a determined two-way effort in front of him.
"I feel pretty good right now," Skinner said. "I think all the momentum is building up. It's not just me out there. Guys are blocking shots for me and guys are putting the puck in the net on the other side. A big team effort for the win tonight and a character win."
Kaden Elder and Giorgio Estephan had the goals for Swift Current as the Broncos played a strong road game and took a 3-2 series lead.
"Our goalie kept us in the game," Elder said. "He made some huge saves... we got desperate and we blocked shots, played the right way in the d-zone and that led to our offence."
It was Skinner's third shutout of the playoffs and the Broncos now haven't allowed a goal in six straight periods.
"I saw a lot of effort coming from a lot of guys in front of me," Skinner said. "I could name every guy in that dressing room. It was a team win... it's a special group in there. We do everything for each other. It's a family."
The Broncos got off to challenging start taking three early penalties and allowing the first five shots of the game. They battled through it and established a hard-nosed mentality in the process.
"I think that penalty that we took in the first minute actually worked OK for us," said Broncos Associate Coach Ryan Smith. "Killing that gave us a little momentum and got us into the game. Getting the first goal was key. We defended quite well. They had lots of opportunities... and we battled, we blocked shots and we got pucks out. They were good again. They kept coming and kept coming. It was a really, really tight game."
Elder opened the scoring with a deflection of a Josh Anderson point shot after his line generated several good scoring chances on an early shift.
"It was a good shot from Andy from the point," Elder said. "I just happened to get a stick on it and just re-direct it."
Swift Current did get on their heels a little bit in the second period getting out-shot 10-5 and forcing Skinner to make a save of the year worthy candidate on Jayden Halbgewachs. The 70-goal scorer found himself wide open at the side of Skinner's crease and the veteran netminder stole a goal away with a terrific glove save.
"I thought we were the better team tonight," Warriors forward Brayden Burke told discovermoosejaw.com. "We hit four or five posts. One of those go in on those early power plays and it could be a different game. I think our power play has got to be better. We can't be wasting opportunities like we have in the past two games... we have to be better. We know what it takes in the room, but it's frustrating right now... we controlled the play for 58-60 minutes of the game. When that happens it's frustrating not to get the win."
Moose Jaw went 0/4 on the power play and were 0/5 in Game 4. They are only 2/17 in the series.
Swift Current went 0/1 on their man advantage.
Knowing that hanging back isn't the right strategy against Moose Jaw the Broncos stressed responsible play with push in the third.
"I think the message was not to sit on our heels," Smith said. "(Head Coach Manny Viveiros) used the words no fear. There's a sense of well we're pretty close to wining this game... you start thinking that way you start playing on your heels and we wanted to play on our toes. That line (Matteo Gennaro, Elder and Beck Malenstyn) two back-to-back shifts of getting it deep in their end, causing some problems around their net and generating some chances."
That push got the Broncos the insurance they needed midway through the period. After missing almost all of Game 4 due to an errant puck hitting him, Tyler Steenbergen returned in Game 5 for Swift Current and made a great play to drive from the right side and set Estephan up for a 2-0 lead.
"I kind of takes a little weight off because it's not just a one goal game," Skinner noted. "At the same time I have to make sure I'm not even thinking about the score. I've got to be thinking about what I need to do in order to stop the puck and I think I did a really good job focusing on that... we thrive on our consistency and the way we play day in and day out. We're playing really well right now and we just need to keep on going."
While Swift Current got Steenbergen back, Moose Jaw didn't have veteran forward Tanner Jeannot and ended up dressing eight defencemen for the game.
Brody Willms was again very solid for the Warriors stopping 22 of the 24 shots he faced including a terrific stop on a Malenstyn wrap-around attempt in the third period.
The Broncos had another loud contingent of fans on the road in Moose Jaw that gave Skinner quite an ovation after the game. They're expecting a very loud home crowd for Game 6 on Saturday night and that doesn't mean the Edmonton Oilers prospect will feel the pressure.
"I think the fans help me," Skinner said. "(Even) being in an opposing team and having them chant your name and try to get your off your game kind of helps me honestly and gets me even more in the moment. I'm having fun smiling being in the moment. I'm living the life every time I'm on the ice and just doing my best to have some fun."
Saturday's game is sold out, but you can listen live on The Eagle 94.1 FM with Robertson Family Group Broncos Hockey at 6:30pm.