Connor Stephenson hit the bar, then picked up his rebound to blast the game-winner in another barnburner between the Cochrane Generals and Medicine Hat Cubs in their HJHL south semifinal series on Mar. 1.
The lead bounced back and forth between the two closely matched clubs that were never more than a goal apart until Gen Riley Hopper put in an empty netter assurance goal in the final minute of play to cap off the scoring, 6-4. It was a bookend to his opening goal of the game at 1:36 in the first.
Diago Coelho scored a pair and added a helper. Patrick Forde had a goal and assist, and Andrew Guss, Jamal Kalaf, Logan Paquette, Brandon Thubron, Connor Stephenson, and James Quaife all had helpers.
Scoring for the Cubs were Kyle Wooldridge with his seventh of the playoffs, Cooper Hilworth, Jackson Bowal, and Levi Schlosser.
Patrick Forde continues to be the leading scorer in the HJHL playoffs, with nine goals and four assists.
The Gens came into the game with a stronger bench than on Feb. 25, when they lost 4-3 in double overtime. Connor Stephenson and Hopper were back in the lineup after missing Game Three. Guss recovered from an injury suffered in the Feb. 25 game, but the Gens are still missing Tristan Ripplinger and Ethan Mateice, who remain day-to-day.
The series returns to Medicine Hat's Kinplex tied 2-2 on Friday night in the first of a three-game weekend.
Gens are home Saturday night in the Cochrane Arena in what should be another must-not-miss matchup. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
Elsewhere in the HJHL, the Okotoks Bisons swept the Strathmore Wheatland Kings four games straight in their south semifinal matchup and await the winner of the Gens-Cubs series.
The Airdrie Thunder wrapped up their series against the Mountainview Colts last night with a 4-1 win to advance to the north final.
The Rocky Rams and Sylvan Lake Wranglers continue to tangle in the other north semifinal series. The Wranglers are leading 3-2 as the teams continue to exchange wins. Game six is in Rocky Mountain House on Friday and, if necessary, game seven will be played in Sylvan Lake on Saturday.