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Mustangs outrun Pals to Ranchland finals

Eric Kay

Fort Macleod Mustangs forward Eric Kay is stopped as he tries to jam the puck past Nanton Palominos goalie Bradley Dragger.


Cole Matson

A Nanton Palominos forward is checked by Cole Matson of the Fort Macleod Mustangs.

Fort Macleod Mustangs came through Sunday with their dream season on the line.
The Mustangs beat host Nanton Palominos 5-2 to win their best-of-five Ranchland Hockey League semifinal series 3-2.
The Mustangs, who placed first overall in the regular season with a 19-1 record, were facing elimination after losing 9-5 Saturday night at home.
Home ice meant nothing in the semifinal series, with the Mustangs having lost both games at their own rink but winning three on the road.
Fort Macleod moves on to the best-of-seven finals against the Brooks Black Hawks, who swept Lomond Lakers 3-0 in the other semifinals.
The series opens Friday, March 11 at 8:30 p.m. at the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre.
The second game is Saturday, March 12, also at 8:30 p.m. in Fort Macleod.
The scene shifts to Brooks for Game 3 on Friday, March 18 and Game 4 on Saturday, March 19. Face off is at 7 p.m. both nights.
Mustangs 5 Palominos 2
Nanton surprised everyone except possibly the Palominos themselves by pushing the semifinal series to the limit.
The deciding game was another knock down, drag ’em out affair with the Mustangs taking the early lead only to have the Palominos battle back to tie, before three unanswered Fort Macleod goals settled the game 5-2.
Cole Matson unassisted and Kevin Olson from Greg Schimanski and Jadon Porterfield staked Fort Macleod to a 2-0 first-period lead.
Nanton tied the game midway through the second period on a pair of goals by Greg Martin.
With 5 /12 minutes left in the second period Michael Fruman scored what proved to be the winner, assisted by Hayden Shackel.
Andy MacIntyre scored 42 seconds later, assisted by Call Marr, to put the Mustangs up 4-2.
Then MacIntyre closed out the scoring with the only goal of the third period, assisted by Schimanski and Porterfield.
MacIntyre, Martin and Mustangs goalie Cody Hall were the game’s three stars.
Palominos 9 Mustangs 5
The Mustangs had a chance Saturday night to wrap up the series but were shocked 9-5 by the visiting Palominos.
Nanton held period leads of 2-1 and 5-3 before out-scoring Fort Macleod 4-2 in the final 20 minutes.
Curtis Billsten scored four times and assisted on four other goals to power the Nanton attack.
Martin had a hat trick and two assists and Steve McMasters and Jeff Davies also scored for Nanton.
MacIntyre and Matson each had a goal and an assist and Porterfield, Shackel and Brendan Bobby had the other Fort Macleod goals.
Tyler Bilodeau had two assists and Ryan Chaben, Tyce Gallamore and Schimanski each had one.
Mustangs 5 Palominos 2
Cole Matson scored a shorthanded goal early in the third period Wednesday that provided the spark the Mustangs needed.
Matson’s shorty three minutes into the final period snapped a 2-2 tie and proved the winner in Fort Macleod’s 5-2 win.
The teams traded goals in the first and second periods and were tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, even though Fort Macleod was badly outshooting Nanton.
Matson’s goal, followed by singles by Olson and Schimanski allowed the Mustangs to gallop past the Palominos.
Fort Macleod fired 46 shots at Nanton goalie Bradley Dragger, while the Palominos could only muster 22 on Mustangs goalie Cody Hall.
Schimanski finished with two goals and an assist and Matson finished with a goal and an assist. Gallamore also scored for Fort Macleod.
Porterfield picked up two assists and Bilodeau, Justin Donahue, Lander Marr and MacIntyre each had one.
Martin and Davies had the Nanton goals.
Schimanski was the game’s first star. Marr was second star and Dragger earned the third star.
Aside from a first-period fight between Fort Macleod’s Eric Kay and Nanton’s Kevin Martin the game was a quiet affair, with only five minor penalties handed out.
A crowd of 200 people turned out for the game at Pincher Creek Arena.

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