Bron­cos face an­other tough week­end

The Southwest Booster - - SPORTS - STEVENMAH [email protected]­booster.com

With Mon­day’s trade dead­line be­hind them, the Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos can fo­cus on their play­off push with 26 games re­main­ing this sea­son.

The Bron­cos won two of three games this past week­end and re­mained in sixth spot in the East­ern Con­fer­ence with a 22-23-0-1 record.

This week­end the Bron­cos have three games sched­uled in as many nights for the third straight week­end. Com­pli­cat­ing the busy week­end will be the fact that both op­po­nents are among the top three teams in the con­fer­ence. Fri­day, they will host the Saska­toon Blades at 7 p.m. and the two teams will face-off in Saska­toon on Satur­day. Sun­day, the Bron­cos will host the Red Deer Rebels at 7 p.m. at the Credit Union iplex.

The Bron­cos de­feated the Blades 4-2 in their most re­cent meet­ing on Jan­uary 2 for their first win over the Blades in four at­tempts this sea­son. They have dropped 6-0 and 4-2 losses to the Rebels ear­lier this sea­son.

The Bron­cos got their week­end off to a great start dur­ing a rare Thurs­day game as Adam Lowry’s first ca­reer hat trick lifted them to a 3-2 win over the vis­it­ing Cal­gary Hit­men.

Lowry scored three con­sec­u­tive goals, giv­ing him 13 on the sea­son, to erase a 1-0 first pe­riod deficit. His third goal, 2:02 af­ter giv­ing the Bron­cos a 2-1 third pe­riod lead, was the nicest as he fin­ished off a beau­ti­ful three-onone pass­ing play from Kyle Verdino and Tay­lor Vause with 2:47 left in reg­u­la­tion.

Cody Sil­vester cut the lead to 3-2 with 1:08 re­main­ing but the Hit­men were un­able to even it up.

“I thought that we played an al­right game,” said for­ward Andy Blanke. “There are a lot of lit­tle things that I think that we need to clean up though... It is good to come out with the two points, that is al­ways a pos­i­tive es­pe­cially this time of year.”

Justin Kirsch, with his team lead­ing 19th goal, also scored for the Hit­men.

Michael Snider suf­fered the loss with 27 saves to drop to 7-13-1-1. Mark Friesen picked up his 20th win with 24 saves for the Bron­cos.

The Bron­cos pow­er­play sput­tered, fin­ish­ing zero for six on the evening, while the Hit­men scored once on six­man-ad­van­tages.

Lowry, 17, net­ted his first hat trick in his 99th reg­u­lar sea­son WHL game.

“He was re­ally go­ing tonight” said Blanke. “Some­times that just hap­pens for guys. He is a skilled player, has lots of fin­ish, and if he gets chances like that he is go­ing to bury them.”

Fri­day, the Bron­cos ex­ploded for four goals over a 3:52 span in the sec­ond pe­riod on their way to 5-0 win over the vis­it­ing Medicine Hat Tigers. Ev­ery bounce went the Bron­cos way as they got goals from five dif­fer­ent skaters and 20 saves from Friesen in the shutout for their third straight win.

“Ev­ery bounce did go our way,” said Verdino.

“It felt good for once to have the bounces go our way.”

Verdino and Brad Hoban each had a goal and an as­sist, while Vause added two as­sists. Dil­lon Wag­ner, Trevor Cameron, and Blanke also scored in front of 2,222 fans at the iplex.

Tyler Bunz suf­fered the loss with 17 saves on 21 shots in 52:56 to drop to 18-8-2-0. He was briefly re­placed by Deven Dubyk, who al­lowed one goal on three shots over 7:04 dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod. “We did ev­ery­thing well. We were dis­ci­plined, we moved the puck well, we shot ev­ery­thing, and it just worked good for us tonight,” said Verdino.

Wag­ner opened the scor­ing at the 1:10 mark of the sec­ond pe­riod, fol­lowed by Cameron’s fourth goal of the sea­son 1:13 later.

Blanke added his third goal 2:10 later, fol­lowed by a pow­er­play goal from Hoban just 29 sec­onds later.

Verdino added his third goal of the sea­son mid­way through the third pe­riod to close the scor­ing as the Bron­cos fin­ished two for two on the pow­er­play, while hold­ing the Tigers with­out a goal on four man-ad­van­tages.

Sun­day, the first game in the post-Cody Eakin era didn’t go so well as the Bron­cos suf­fered a 7-1 loss to the host Tigers.

The game, orig­i­nally sched­ule for Satur­day, was moved to Sun­day due to poor travel con­di­tions and was played hours af­ter Bron­cos cap­tain Cody Eakin was traded to the Koote­nay Ice for five play­ers and three draft picks.

Lin­den Vey led the Tigers at­tack with one goal and four as­sists to sit sec­ond in WHL scor­ing with 65 points in 38 games.

Dylan Buse­nius opened scor­ing with the game’s first two goals to triple his scor­ing out­put this sea­son.

Ryan Har­ri­son also added a goal and two helpers. Cole Gr­bavac, Reid Petryk, and Emer­son Etem rounded out the scor­ing as the Tigers avenged Fri­day’s 5-0 shutout loss.

Verdino scored the lone Bron­cos goal on the pow­er­play, 2:45 into the fi­nal frame to cut the lead to 6-1 as the Bron­cos three-game win­ning streak came to an end.

Friesen suf­fered the loss with seven saves on 10 shots in 23:46.

Derek Tendler didn’t fare much bet­ter, al­low­ing four goals on 16 shots.

Bunz made 20 saves in the win for the Tigers, who sat fourth in the East­ern Con­fer­ence with a 26-12-2-0 record.

Booster photo by Steven Mah

Bron­cos for­ward Dil­lon Wag­ner works against Medicine Hat’s Dylan Buse­nius dur­ing Fri­day’s 5-0 win.

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