The Neepawa Farmers gave themselves a chance to win each game, but it was the Carberry Plainsmen who ultimately found the clinching goals to sweep the Tiger Hills Hockey League East Division semi-final series between the two squads.
On Wednesday night in Game 3 of the series, held in Carberry, Neepawa looked poised to begin a comeback in the series.
Carberry took an early 1-0 lead, but Cam Tibbett – assisted from goalie Curtis Nelson – tied the game at 1-1 midway through the opening period. Carberry responded with two unanswered markers, but Tibbett scored once more before the period ended – assisted by
Bryan White – to bring the score to 3-2 after 20 minutes.
A powerplay goal by captain Devon Speiss tied the game at 3-3 seven minutes into the second period. Carberry's Dustin Fisher and Neepawa's Reg Delaloye – assisted by Rodney White and Travis Tilley – exchanged goals in the dying minutes of the period to end the second frame tied 4-4.
The Plainsmen were the first to strike in the third period, with Keaton Turner scoring less than three minutes in. Neepawa attempted an offensive barrage on Carberry's goal in response, but weren't able to tweak the twine again before the final whistle, leaving Carberry with the 5-4 win and eliminating the Farmers from the post-season.
Curtis Nelson made 36 saves in the losing effort for Neepawa, while Kris Jon Bjarnason made 24 saves for Carberry. Ross Sheard, Ryan Halliday and Geoff Davison scored the Plainsmen's other goals.
Neepawa had lost the other two games in the series, both played at the Yellowhead Centre, in close battles. Game 1 was a 4-3 loss in overtime, while Game 2 was 8-6.
The Farmers were filling the underdog role in the series, coming in as the East Division's sixth seed, while Carberry was the top seed.
Neepawa eliminated the third-seed Pilot Mound in the opening round of the playoffs.
Cam Tibbett and Lance Nugent led Neepawa in scoring for the playoffs – Tibbett with four goals and eight points in three games played, while Nugent scored three and totalled eight points in four games. Clarke Rempel sat third in team scoring with seven points.