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