The Hafford Hawks are one win away from clinching the Saskatchewan Prairie Hockey League title, after their 4-3 victory in game three of the finals over the Meota Combines at Battleford Arena Tuesday.
Tuesday was the third straight game of the finals to be decided by a single goal, and the eighth one-goal game of the playoffs for Hafford, who now lead the best-of-five series 2-1.
"I didn't think we played the best, but we came out at the end of it with the win," Hawks Forward Brandon Lesko said. "We've got to get the forecheck going earlier on, and we really have got to watch when we're playing our D-zone."
Hafford surrendered the first goal of the game, but struck twice in the final two minutes of the period, both courtesy of Ryan Schaefer, to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
The teams exchanged second-period goals, setting the stage for another tight finish.
Just over five minutes into the third period, Combines defenceman David Greyeyes tied the game 3-3, before Lesko responded with the go-ahead goal five minutes later.
"Kyle [Rivett] just got a puck to the net there and a rebound came out to me and it was just an easy tap-in," Lesko said of his goal, the Hafford native's seventh of the playoffs in 13 games. "To get this win is huge."
The teams will meet for game four this Sunday at the North Battleford Civic Centre, where a Hawks win would give them their second league championship in four seasons.
"We've got two cracks at it now; that's how we look at it," Lesko said. "We want to get this done as early as we can, so we're going to come in here Sunday with the same mindset, but start a little better and get in on the forecheck a little better."
For the Combines, both Blake and Brody Tatchell had two points on Tuesday.
Lesko said Blake, who played pro in the ECHL after his junior career, definitely elevated his game Tuesday after not looking 100 per cent in the first two games.
"He really showed what he can do," the 20-year-old Lesko said. "When he has the puck, he really takes control of the game, so he's a guy we really need to look after in game four."
Puck drop for game four is set for 5 p.m. Sunday.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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