One more piece to the CHL playoff puzzle was solved Tuesday evening in Odessa, as the Laredo Bucks managed a narrow 3-2 win over the Jackalopes to claim a 3-2 Southern Conference Semi-Final win in the Ray Miron 2002 Presidents Cup Playoffs. The Bucks advance to the Southern Conference Finals and a best of seven series with the regular season champion Austin Ice Bats. Still to be decided following Tuesday action is the opponent for the Indianapolis Ice in the Northern Conference Finals, as the Memphis RiverKings posted a 5-3 home ice win over the Oklahoma City Blazers to force a deciding Game 5 Wednesday night in Oklahoma.
Game 5 Final: Bucks 3 at Jackalopes 2
Laredo Wins Series 3 Games to 2
In Odessa, the first year Laredo Bucks continued to surpass even the most lofty of expectations by defeating the higher seeded Jackalopes 3-2 at the Ector County Coliseum. The Jackalopes nearly tied the game in the final seconds, but Bucks netminder Marc Andre Leclerc came up with several outstanding saves to seal the victory. As usual, Odessas Mike Gorman was tremendous in his own right, stopping 25 of 28 shots in the loss. Laredo took a 1-0 lead in the first period on Chris Grenvilles second goal of the playoffs, coming on a power play with assists from Michel Periard and Morten Ask. Jackalopes forward Sebastien Thinel, a CHL Rookie of the Year Finalist, tied the game early in the second period, but consecutive goals by Periard and Andy Lundbohm gave Laredo the three goals they would ultimately need to win. Odessa All-Star defenseman Scott Hillman closed the gap to 3-2 with a power play marker of his own 6:15 into the final frame, but the Jackalopes couldnt complete the comeback. Odessa has now exited from the CHL playoffs in the first round two years in a row, despite tremendous regular seasons. The Bucks, meanwhile, will now face a rested Austin club in the Southern Conference Finals, beginning Thursday in Austin.
GM1 Thu, April 3, Laredo at Austin (Chaparral Ice Center, 8:00 PM)
GM2 Sun, April 6, Laredo at Austin (Chaparral Ice Center, 7:00 PM)
GM3 Tue, April 8, Austin at Laredo (Laredo Entertainment Center, 7:30 PM)
GM4 Thu, April 10, Austin at Laredo (Laredo Entertainment Center, 7:30 PM)
GM5* Fri, April 11, Laredo at Austin (Travis County Expo Center, 7:30 PM)
GM6* Sat, April 12, Austin at Laredo (Laredo Entertainment Center, 7:30 PM)
GM7* Tue, April 15, Laredo at Austin (Travis County Expo Center, 7:30 PM)
* If Necessary
Game 4 Final: Blazers 3 at RiverKings 5
Series Tied 2-2, Game 5 Wednesday in Oklahoma City
In Memphis Tuesday night, the RiverKings and the Oklahoma City Blazes continued their raging battle in the Northern Conference Semi-Finals. With a 5-3 home win, Memphis has staved off elimination and forced a fifth and deciding game in Oklahoma City Wednesday evening. The clubs exchanged first period goals, first a power play marker by RiverKing Jay Neal, then an unassisted tally by Blazer Ryan Campbell. The first six minutes of the second period were ultimately Oklahoma Citys undoing in Game 4, allowing three Memphis goals in the first 6:02. First, Don Parsons scored, then unlikely scoring hero Anthony Dipalma scored back to back goals for a 4-1 lead. The Blazers did respond with the next two goals, first by Hardy Sauter on the power play, then a shorthanded effort by Jonathan Dubois early in the third to make it 4-3. Thats as close as the Blazers would get, as Brian Tucker sealed the win with an empty net goal in the closing seconds. Both clubs will immediately travel to Oklahoma City to finally determine a series winner.