HELENA — The Helena Bighorns were determined not to let their season end.
Even after they trailed by two goals to the Missoula Junior Bruins in an elimination game, they found a way to win according to Bighorns forward left-wing Darren Donovan.
Donovan, who led the Bighorns in scoring with three goals, said the finality began to kick in for him and his team.
"We knew this could potentially be our last game of the season, and our adrenaline started to kick in during every single shift," Donovon said. "The game was high-speed, and there were a lot of quick decisions made, and we were working as hard as we could, and when you do that the game works your way."
The Bighorns defeated the Bruins 6-5 Friday night at the Helena Ice Arena to win the best-of-3 series. They advance to play either Great Falls or Bozeman later next week.
Bozeman defeated Great Falls on Saturday night to even their best-of-3 series. They determine a winner at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday in Great Falls.
Missoula found itself leadind 4-2 when their starting goalie Evan Williams was injured, which made all of the difference, according to Bruins coach Cliff Cook.
Williams saved 28 of the 30 shots he saw. Sample could only save 14 of the 18 shots he saw.
"That was the biggest thing that happened was our goalie ended up getting hurt," Cook said. "That is no slight on Josh Sample, but they had been playing so well in throughout the game, and it was tough for Josh to come into that a game like that after two periods, he was cold, and that is hard for any goaltender to come into a game like that."
During the third period, the Bighorns took advantage and scored four unanswered goals.
The three most critical momentum changing goals were from Kaden Lindberg scored on a power-play with 17:50 left, Donovon scored with 11:23 left and Luc Cross gave the Bighorns the game-winning goal with 5:22 left to play in the third period.
Helena goaltenders Carver Thompson and Rogers Alexanders combined to save 32 shots.
Ian Zaleski created offense for the Bighorns with three assists. Hayden Seitz, Elliot Plourde and Justin Sullivan had two assists each.
Moving forward Bighorns coach Bob Richards said this would be a good experience for his team.
"There was lots of pressure on our team (throughout this series), and it was a good experience for our guys to play under that type of pressure," Richards said. "It gave us the extra experience to play under that type of pressure, and that was a lot of pressure to play in a game like that."