Well, this certainly was not the way the Estevan Bruins envisioned this series going.
After coming within 30 seconds of taking the series opener on the road, the Bruins have now lost two straight games in decisive fashion and need a win in Game 4 tomorrow to extend their season.
The Weyburn Red Wings pounced on a pair of key errors in the first period and then ran away with it in a 7-3 win over the Bruins in Game 3 tonight at Crescent Point Place.
The Bruins were on fire to start this game, no doubt spurred by the return of Matt Dochylo and Taylor Reich to the lineup, and they were all over the Wings early, outshooting them 7-1 at one point.
They got on the board first on a power play less than two minutes into the contest. Dochylo, in his first shift since Feb. 24, got in Mitch Kilgore's kitchen and Cole Olson fired a shot past the Weyburn netminder to give the Bruins the all-important first goal.
The Bruins continued to pepper Kilgore, but the tables turned at 14:26 when Steven Glass mishandled the puck, leading to a Miguel Pereira goal that tied the game.
Then, just over three minutes later, Tyler Kauk was muscled off the puck in front, which led to Coltyn Sanderson finding the back of the net to give Weyburn a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.
Weyburn came out strong in the second period and had several golden opportunities to extend their lead before it finally happened at the 13:15 mark when Jens Johnson fired a wrister past Glass from the left point.
Less than three minutes later, on a Wings power play, Kyle Oleniuk took a pass from Struthers at the left side of the net and wrapped it five-hole on Glass to open up a three-goal cushion for the home side.
For long stretches in the second, it seemed the Bruins' defencemen had trouble picking up the open man and closing off the passing lanes - which led to not getting the puck out, which led to tired legs, which led to, well, you get the idea.
For a guy who at one time seemed questionable to even play in this series, Carter Struthers has been absolutely huge for the Wings. I think he has to be considered one of the most underrated guys in the league this season. I know I easily would have picked him over either of the rookie of the year winners.
In the third, Jesse Ross made it 5-1 only 36 seconds in, which was enough for Glass to get the hook in favour of Tyler Ross. Then Tyler Paslawski scored 26 seconds later, then Sanderson netted his second of the night 75 seconds after that.
Ryan Whitell would add a seventh goal for Weyburn with 17:32 left, and Olson scored his second of the game a little over a minute later when he took a headman pass from Neufeld and tucked it inside the far post.
I was very impressed with Olson's game tonight. He's been arguably the Bruins' top forward in the playoffs and he really played with urgency in this game. With a good bounce here or there, he easily could have manufactured two or three more goals.
Dochylo certainly didn't hesitate to mix it up after his injury. He played like a wrecking ball from start to finish and I think was a real source of inspiration for his teammates.
All things considered, I don't think many people saw the series unfolding this way. Yes, the Wings came in with a sizable advantage on paper, but I didn't hear one person say the word sweep entering the series (now, granted, those were mostly Estevan people).
I think most expected this to go at least five or six games, with entertainment value and bad blood to spare. That hasn't really transpired either. Game 1 was a barnburner, but the last two games are not ones I would consider worth more than the cost of admission, for a fan from either team. And there hasn't been a lot of hatred - certainly no more than you would see in any playoff series.
(Heck, last year's Kindersley-Weyburn series makes this one look like a peace rally...)
But there is still time, both for the Bruins to make a series of it, and for us to be lifted out of our seats. It starts tomorrow night.
Here are Keith's thoughts on a disappointing Game 3: