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Central Canada Cup update, Day 3: Current River and St. Paul snag wins, semifinals set

Day three of the Central Canada Cup firmed up the standings and determined who will play who in the tournament semifinals.
PBCN Selects forward Mathis Bacon-Labbe gets in position near Current River Storm goalie Parker Bell during their Central Canada Cup round robin game.

Day three of the Central Canada Cup firmed up the standings in the tournament and determined who will play who in the semifinals.

After a busy day Thursday, just two games took place Friday, both early in the day to avoid a schedule conflict with the Bombers/Mustangs game Friday night. The first of the two saw the PJHL entrant Saskatoon Royals face the St. Paul Canadiens from the NEAJBHL - the Alberta squad beat the Royals 7-5 to clinch top spot.

The Royals got to an early lead after Keenan Bender scored twice, but the Canadiens stormed back with three straight goals from Jacob Labant and Braxton Patenaude - Labant scored another goal to give St. Paul the lead. Matthew Ripplinger tied the game for the Royals, but Rylan Cardinal put the Canadiens ahead late in the first, giving them a 4-3 lead after 20.

Noah Balmer extended that lead to two midway through the second, but Saskatoon battled back again, with a goal by Mackenzie Wallace getting them within one and Bender picking up his hat-trick clincher to tie the game at 5 - where it would be going into the third.

There, the Habs would take over and keep the lead, with Parker Sabatier and Patenaude each finding the twine late.

Nic Jensen started the game for the Royals and stayed in until the game-winning goal, after which he was pulled for Brayden Schenstead - the two combined for 29 saves. St. Paul netminder Sebastien Culham stopped 24 shots for the win.

With wins in all four of their round-robin games, the Canadiens clinched first place. Saskatoon finished the round with a 2-1-1 record, able to either finish second or third, pending the result of the final game of the day - the Current River Storm against the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) Selects, the hosts.

The Storm entered with a 1-1-1 record, while the Selects had a 1-2-0 record. The winner of this game would avoid facing the Canadiens in the semifinal and play the Royals. The Storm won and won big against the hosts, handing them an 8-1 defeat and clinching a tie for second place with Saskatoon, while the Selects will play the Canadiens Saturday.

Current River put up seven straight goals through the first two periods, with Nolan Desando getting a natural hat-trick and Gage Hordy, Noah Broughton, Jordan Anttonen and Isaac Cain also finding the twine. Mathis Bacon-Labbe got the Selects on the board midway through the third, but Hordy added a shorthanded goal to make it an 8-1 final.

Paxton Moore started the game and was pulled midway through the second, replaced with Ethan Fechter - the two goalies were pelted, saving 42 of the 50 shots they faced. Parker Ball made 21 saves on 22 PBCN shots.

The semifinals were set following the game - Current River would face Saskatoon in the 11 a.m. game Saturday, while the Selects would draw the short straw and play the undefeated Canadiens at 2 p.m. The winners advance to the final Sunday at 2 p.m. - the losers will go home.

The teams have already played each other during the tournament. Current River and Saskatoon opened the tournament with a thrilling 6-6 tie, while the Canadiens gave PBCN a 7-0 drubbing in both teams' second game of the day Thursday.

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