Red Deer Rustlers forward Landon Kletke shakes hands with Devon Barons player Kyle Henderson after the Rustlers swept the North Central Senior Hockey League best-of-five playoff series Saturday night at the Penhold Multiplex. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Salmon pitches shutout, Red Deer Rustlers sweep Devon Barons in NCHL playoffs

Rustlers 5 Barons 0 (Rustlers win series 3-0)

The Red Deer Rustlers wanted to leave no doubt.

After winning the first two games of the North Central Senior Hockey League best-of-five series, it was clear they desired to end it on home ice.

They finished it off with an exclamation mark, posting a dominant 5-0 shutout win over the Devon Barons to sweep the series.

“It was a good effort, it was a lot better than (Friday) it took us about 40 minutes to get going, (Saturday) we played a solid 60 and it was nice to get the series sweep at home,” said Jaret Smith, who had two goals in the first period.

Rustlers goalie Mike Salmon, who also notched a shutout in the opening game of the series, looked cool, calm and collected in the Rustlers net with 30 saves.

“I thought we played a good team game, I don’t get shutouts very often, but that’s two in the playoffs already. I feel like I’ve been playing well, but the team has been helping me out,” Salmon said.

Red Deer jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, with a pair of goals from Smith. Smith also picked an assist in the third period.

“It was good, it was nice. I’ve been cold since the new year, it’s been nice to get off to a start in the last two games in the playoffs,” Smith said.

Dylan Houston added a second-period tally and the tensions rose through 40 minutes, including a match penalty assessed to Derek Pess for hitting a Barons player with their own helmet as time expired in the second.

From there, the Rustlers had to kill a five-minute power play to start the third, that’s where Salmon really made the difference. Shortly after the penalty expired, Johnny Li buried for the Rustlers to break the game open.

On a Red Deer power play with 2:37 to go, former Red Deer Rebel Colton Bobyk blasted a point shot home to add a cherry on top of the win.

The Rustlers put themselves in position for the sweep with a big offensive performance Friday. They knocked off the Barons 6-4 in Devon to grab a stranglehold on the series. Tyler Berkholtz led the charge with the hat trick, while Smith added a pair of tallies. Tucker Scantlebury also had a pair of assists, while Mike Salmon stopped 35 shots for the victory.

With the win Saturday, Red Deer advanced to the second round and will await their semifinal opponent.

The Lacombe Senior AA Generals lost 7-5 to the Daysland Kings on home ice Saturday and their best-of-five series is tied at one. Chance Abbott, Cale Walker, Brian Pieper and Matt Richardson all had goals in the loss. Lacombe will host game 4 of the best-of-five series on Feb. 8 at 8:45 p.m.

The Blackfalds Wranglers lost a pair of games in their best-of-five series and were eliminated by the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs. They lost 13-5 on the road Saturday and 6-3 Sunday.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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