It's crunch time for the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) Selects. Down 2-0 in the team's second-round series and with a key player now in need of emergency surgery, the club needs to win on home ice Saturday.
After beating Cross Lake in the first round, the Selects have entered a best-of-five series with the number-two ranked Peguis Juniors. That series started last weekend with a pair of games March 11 and 12 at the Peguis Multiplex.
Game one saw the Selects jump out to an early lead, but ultimately lose 3-2 in overtime. Anson Favel scored first for the Selects, followed moments later by Koby Connelly, who put PBCN up 2-0 on a shorthanded goal. Lyle Murdock would get one back for the Juniors, but PBCN would lead 2-1 after one.
Jamie Maytwayashing tied the game late in the second period, but for the rest of regulation the goalies - Odin Church for the Selects, Aidan Marchand for the Juniors - would hold steady, forcing overtime.
About nine minutes into the extra frame, the Juniors would end things, with Keanu Woodhouse getting a puck past Church to put Peguis up 1-0 in the series. Church made 29 saves compared to Marchand’s 21, but the Selects would be stuck with the loss.
Things went from bad to worse for PBCN Sunday in Game 2, when the Juniors pushed through to an emphatic 10-0 beating to put the Selects on the brink.
Ayden Daniels opened the scoring for Peguis nine minutes in and the Juniors laid it on, scoring twice in the first period, three times in the second and adding salt in the wound with five third-period goals. Frustration got the better of the Selects in the third, with four players receiving misconducts.
Jackson Jacque had four points for Peguis, while Maytwayashing had a hat-trick. Church, who started the game, made 16 saves through the first two periods, while Creighton’s Paxton Moore, who played the third, stopped six of 11 shots. Marchand went spotless for the Juniors, stopping 17 shots.
The Selects will now have to win three consecutive games against Peguis to advance to the league finals, but will have a chance to win on home ice. PBCN will play March 18 at the Whitney Forum - in a rare afternoon playoff game, due to the Bombers having Game 2 of their SJHL opening round series during the evening. Puck drop is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Game 4, if needed, will be played at the Whitney Forum March 25, with a quick turnaround and long trip necessary for a winner-take-all Game 5 - that game, 24 hours after Game 4, is slated to take place at Peguis, a seven-hour drive from the Forum.
On top of the losses, the Selects suffered an unexpected and dangerous loss during the week. Carson "Freddy" Ledoux, one of the team's Flin Flon players and an assistant captain with the Selects, requires emergency brain surgery after a tumour was found on the left side of his brain. Ledoux was set to undergo surgery in Winnipeg this week. The Selects and Ledoux have set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for Ledoux's family and his recovery - the fundraising drive has raised more than $4,000 as of Friday evening.
"I just want to say thank you to everyone for all of your support - not only did everyone help me out in a huge way financially, but everyone has given me a new sense of confidence going through this and I can’t express how grateful I am for that," reads a post from Ledoux on his Facebook page dated March 15.