The Wichita Thunder and Laredo Bucks have advanced to their respective Central Hockey League Conference Finals with Saturday night wins, while both the Indianapolis Ice and San Angelo Saints came through with victories facing must win situations to force fourth series games on Sunday. The Thunder shocked the Northeast Division regular season champion Colorado Eagles 2-1 to win the series 3-1, while Laredo blanked Rio Grande Valley 3-0 to sweep the Killer Bees. In Indianapolis, the Ice scored three goals in the third period to complete a 4-3 comeback win over the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, while San Angelo rolled to a 5-1 win in Amarillo.
CHL Playoff Scoreboard
CHL Playoff Schedule
Box Score: Colorado 1 @ Wichita 2
Wichita wins series 3-1
The Wichita Thunder have shocked the top-seeded Colorado Eagles with a 3-1 series win, wrapping up the series with a narrow 2-1 win in Game Four at the Kansas Coliseum. The Eagles scored the first goal of the game for the fourth time in the series, but as in the opening two contests in Colorado, were unable to hold the lead. Greg Pankewiczs first period goal was countered by Chad Mazurak, leaving Travis Claytons goal early in the second period to stand up as the game winner. Wichitas Nathan Grobins continued his outstanding post-season with a 30 save performance. For the Eagles, a remarkable regular season comes to and end after setting a CHL record for expansion teams with 91 points. Ultimately the back-to-back losses on home ice were too much to overcome, and the gritty Thunder capitalized on more opportunities than the Eagles to emerge victorious. Wichita now advances to the Northern Conference Finals against either Bossier-Shreveport or Indianapolis.
Box Score: Laredo 3 @ Rio Grande Valley 0
Laredo wins series 3-0
The Laredo Bucks completed a three game sweep of the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees Saturday evening using their usual combination of great defense and opportunistic offense to post a 3-0 win to advance to the Northern Conference Finals against the winner of the Amarillo / San Angelo series. Dion Hyman, Brent Cullation and Adam Paiement handled the scoring for the Bucks, while CHL Rookie of the Year David Guerrera picked up the shutout win with 23 saves. Ultimately, the Killer Bees, despite a tremendously successful inaugural season, could not handle the Bucks many talented offensive weapons. Laredo will enjoy home ice advantage in the Southern Conference Finals, regardless of their opponent, and will host games one and two on Friday, April 2nd and Saturday April 3rd.
Box Score: San Angelo 5 @ Amarillo 1
Amarillo leads series 2-1
The San Angelo Saints finally figured a way to breakthrough the Amarillo Gorillas defense and goaltending in Saturdays Game Three, potting five goals en route to a 5-1 win in Amarillo to force a Game Four Sunday evening. Saints rookie Tyler Knight led the barrage with his first four points of the post-season, scoring twice and adding a pair of assists. Steve Roberts, Derek Booth and Chris Minard also scored for San Angelo, while Jason Reesor had the lone goal for the Gorillas. Late in the second period the Amarillo Civic Center went quiet for several minutes as Gorilla forward Henry Kuster laid out Saints defenseman with a devastating check. Wilson eventually left the ice to a huge ovation, and is expected to make a full recovery. Saints netminder Scott Reid picked up the victory with an outstanding 41 save performance, while Amarillos Shawn Degagne had his first off game of the series, allowing five goals on 27 shots before being replaced by Jamie Vandespyker.
Box Score: Bossier-Shreveport 3 @ Indianapolis 4
Bossier-Shreveport leads series 2-1
The Indianapolis Ice showed their mettle Saturday evening, coming back from both one and two goal deficits in Game Three and scored three times in the third period to pull off a 4-3 win and force Sundays Game Four. CHL Most Outstanding Defenseman Bernie John led the comeback with goals in the first and third period, while Ryan Carters shorthanded effort midway through the third tied the game 3-3. Jaredo Dumba proved tyo be the hero, scoring with 4:55 left to make the final 4-3. Forbes MacPherson (goal, two assists) and Dan Wildfong (two goals) led the Mudbugs offensive attack, while Jeff Sanger picked up the win for the Ice with 32 saves on 32 shots. The series resumes Sunday in Indianapolis with the Ice again facing elimination, and hoping to force a deciding fifth game in Bossier-Shreveport on Monday.