Broncos struggle against B.C., Central Division teams
The Swift Current Broncos faced a difficult schedule least week against four talented opponents from the B.C. and Central Divisions. The Broncos took two of the games to overtime but earned only two points in four games to drop out of top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Broncos finished the weekend with a 19-13-14 record for a three-point lead in the East Division over the Regina Pats.
Tuesday, the Broncos couldn’t match one of Canada’s top teams in a 4-2 loss to the visiting Kelowna Rockets.
The Broncos earned a late lead on Zac Mackay’s shorthanded goal with 5:06 remaining in the third period to break a 1-1 tie but Kelowna replied with three goals over the final 3:18 for their 23rd win in 28 games this season.
Eetu Laurikainen was simple outstanding in the Broncos goal with 40 saves, including 18 saves in the third period alone.
Zack Franko tied the game 2-2 only 1:48 after the Broncos had taken the lead. Ryan Olsen scored a power play with 1:08 left on the clock for a 3-2 lead and then hometown kid, Colton Heffley scored into an empty net.
Tanner LeSann had given the Broncos a 1-0 lead in the first period and Tyrell Goulbourne tied it up for Kelowna in the second period.
Jordon Cooke made 24 saves in the Kelowna goal to improve to 17-1-2.
The Broncos struggling power play unit finished without a goal on three man-advantages, while Kelowna scored the gamewinner on the power play as they finished one-forfour. The Rockets had entered the game with the top penalty kill in the WHL at
Broncos defenseman Dillon Heatherington (left) worked to contain Victoria’s Ryan Olsen during last week’s overtime loss. 86.2 percent having allowed a league low 16 goals on 116 attempts. Thursday, the Broncos erased a disastrous opening 3:35 to nullify a 3-0 deficit but settled for a single point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Victoria Royals. The Broncos spotted the Royals a 3-0 lead when they hung goaltender Landon Bow out to dry with poor defensive zone coverage and the Royals capitalized for three goals on their first four shots. Ben Walker, Tyler Soy, and Steven Hodges all scored for Victoria during the outburst. Bow was pulled after the third goal and replaced by Laurikainen, who stopped all five shots he faced the rest of the period.
“I just don’t think that we were prepared enough before the game,” said Broncos veteran Jay Merkley. “I think maybe since they had a couple of their key guys out we might have taken them lightly, I don’t know.”