BELLEVUE — Ben Biron thinks he plays best with his back against the wall.
And that’s the exact situation Brentwood was in Wednesday.
The Bruins were one loss from breaking their streak of three consecutive GNASH Predators Cup titles. Montgomery Bell Academy was poised to play the spoiler, just as it did when beating Brentwood earlier this season.
But Biron scored two goals, including one in a late flurry that helped nail down a 5-3 victory at Ford Ice Center, and now Brentwood can capture a four-peat when the teams meet again next week.
Biron’s been this way. He first noticed his penchant for playoff heroics last year against Ravenwood, when he tied the game with a minute left and then scored the game-winner in overtime.
“I feel like that was the moment I noticed,” Biron said. “I just play well under pressure.”
Brentwood coach Chris Orem has seen it too.
“That’s this group in a nutshell. They’ve been in these games before,” Orem said. “Ben, most of all, knows he’s got to lock it in.”
Brentwood forced an if-necessary championship game which will take place next Wednesday against MBA at 5 p.m. in Bellevue.
MBA’s Luke Haley netted a hat trick, secured by two late goals that brought the Big Red within 4-3 late in the third period.
Otherwise, Brentwood was dominant.
It upped the lead to 4-1 in the third period after Biron scored his second goal, which was followed quickly by another from Kal Essenmacher.
That wound up being a knockout blow.
“MBA didn’t really respond. They hadn’t really been in that position,” Orem said. “It was big because we took confidence from their goaltender.”
The Bruins clicked on offense as goalie Devin Phillips’ continued an incredible postseason. After netting 31 saves on 34 shots against MBA, he has 136 saves against 151 shots in six tournament games.
That’s been giving Brentwood an added boost too.
“Our (defense), if we mess up, we know we’re not dead,” Biron said. “We know we have a good goalie back there.”
Riding one of its most experienced rosters in recent memory, MBA beat Brentwood 5-3 in the first meeting.
The teams were still feeling each other out then.
“Didn’t go our way,” Orem said. “This time we kind of buckled down, had everyone available. Our top two lines were going pretty good. We had more chances than we did in the first game.”
And as it turned out, having a little pressure this time didn’t hurt.
“The message (to the team) was that we’re still playing,” Orem said. “We’ve got one game to go.”