DeBrusk scores OT winner to tie playoff series with Tigers

Steven Mah
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Rookie Jake DeBrusk scores winning goal for second straight game to end OT thriller

Jake DeBrusk ended the first overtime game between the Swift Current Broncos and the Medicine Hat Tigers in their playoff series with his second straight game winning goal.

The rookie beat Marek Langhamer to the blocker side on an innocent looking rush only 5:06 into the extra period to tie the opening round best-of-seven Western Hockey League playoff series  at two games apiece. DeBrusk, 17, had scored a third-period game-winner during a 3-1 victory one night earlier.

"It is a great feeling in the room," said defenseman Dillon Heatherington after the emotional overtime victory. "The attitude of this team has completely changed from the first two games. Looking back to last year, we had a lot of experience coming into this game because we lost in overtime to Calgary on that gloved goal. We really needed to bear down and I thought we were a lot more relaxed in the room doing into it."

Curtis Valk scored twice in 1:12 early in the game to give the Tigers a familiar 2-0 lead. He scored 7:23 into regulation on a perfect top-corner shot and then deflected a home a Trevor Cox point shot for the Tigers' third 2-0 start to a game in the series.

"Throughout the year we had a lot of experience being down goals. I just look back to the Saskatoon game where we were down, I think it was five goals, going into the third and we managed to come back and win that game. Even though we were down two we still had so much confidence in the room in each other that we can come back and win," said Heatherington.

Graham Black gave the Broncos hope with his first goal of the series 1:06 into the second period. He started the third period the same way when he scored high to glove side of Langhamer just 1:01 after the period began.

The Broncos played their strongest period of regulation, out-shooting the Tigers 19-7 in the third period but were unable to add a second goal.

Both goaltenders were outstanding once again. Eetu Laurikainen earned his second straight win with 39 saves. Langhamer took the loss despite making 42 saves.

DeBrusk now has goals in three straight games after a 15-goal rookie season.

"He is such a good guy in the room and we appreciate him so much. He was kind of underrated a little bit coming into the playoffs and he is just kind of exploding out and you need him, you need him for sure," said Heatherington.

Game four was played in front of a sold out crowd at the Credit Union iplex.

"The fans have been unbelievable," said Heatherington. "In my three years being here this is the loudest it has ever been and the most energy. It creates so much energy on the bench and it makes it so much easier to gain momentum when things aren't going so well. We owed the fans a big win tonight."

The series returns to Medicine Hat for game five on Saturday. Game six will be played Sunday back in Swift Current.

Heatherington feels that the Broncos have the momentum heading back to Medicine Hat as they try to secure the first road win in the series.

"Their rink is obviously one of the toughest to play in in the league. We just need to make sure we have better success than we did in the first two games and make sure we get that win coming home."

Organizations: Medicine Hat Tigers, Swift Current Broncos, WHL

Geographic location: Medicine Hat, Swift Current

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