The Swift Current Broncos were eliminated in game six of their best-of-seven playoff series against the Medicine Hat Tigers Sunday.
The Broncos led 1-0 heading into the third period but the Tigers scored twice to clinch the win in the first road victory in the six-game series.
Medicine Hat were the aggressors early, out-shooting the Broncos 16-9 during a scoreless first period.
Nathan Burns opened the scoring for the Broncos 9:35 into the middle stanza when he won an offensive zone face-off then tipped home a Stephen Shmoorkoff point shot for his fourth goal of the series.
Curtis Valk tied the game 2:01 into the third period when his wrist shot handcuffed Eetu Laurikainen and went off his glove and in on the Tigers' first shot of the period.
Chad Labelle scored the game-winning goal with 2:24 left in regulation when he found a puck in the slot and fired it home.
"Two real breakdowns," said Lamb of the third period collapse. "We turn the puck over and then we just didn't battle at the end. You have the puck and then you are not hard in front of the net. The hungrier team won."
Lamb agreed that one of the main differences in the series was that Medicine Hat's top players outplayed the Broncos' top players.
"Yeah I think so. They are hard to handle and they are moving on and we're not and I think that is pretty telling."
Laurikainen took the loss with 38 saves to end his Western Hockey League career. "I think he has probably been the most valuable player on our team," said Lamb. "Since I have been here, probably the most valuable addition to our hockey club in the last couple years. It was a spot we were really lacking. He came in from Europe, he has done everything. I hope some NHL teams take notice and see what he has done for our organization. He is a great guy that leaves it out there every night."
Marek Langhamer earned the win with 30 saves during another great goaltending battle that defined the series.
Medicine Hat advances to the Eastern Conference semi-final against the Kootenay Ice.
"It is really disappointing," said Lamb. "Playing good doesn't cut it in playoffs, being good doesn't cut it. To take that next level and that next step there is a lot more attitude, a lot more hardness, all of the above. The way hockey is played now, if you throw your sticks in and you just want to score goals, you could tell in our first period, just because we were playing at home we think we are going to win, we think we are going to come back. It is a hard thing to do and I hope it is real tough lesson for a lot of guys in there."