Game 4: Hitmen 1 Broncos 0 (OT)

Chris Driedger covers up the puck with Graham Black and Ryon Moser going to the net (photo by Darwin Knelsen)

Chris Driedger covers up the puck with Graham Black and Ryon Moser going to the net (photo by Darwin Knelsen)

Highlights of The New Pioneer Co-op Broncos Hockey (Download)

Post-Game Interviews with Jamie Heward and Adam Lowry (Download)

Pre-Game Interview with Broncos F Adam Lowry (Download)

Pre-Game Interview with Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb (Download)

Pre-Game Interview with Hitmen Coach Mike Williamson (Download)

Overtime Interview with Broncos Chairman Liam Choo-Foo (Download)

  • B&A Petroleum Game Shifter: OT winner/Non-Call
  • Low Cost Towing Unsung Hero: Daniel Dale
  • Standard Motors Crunch of the Game: Daniel Dale
  • Herbert Auto Tough Guy of the Game: Zac Mackay

Well what can you say about what happened in that game? Let me start off by saying that was as well-played a playoff game by both teams as I’ve seen in my time covering junior hockey. They both gave everything they had and committed themselves fully to their game plans in a game that featured very few mistakes and a ton of intensity.

The quality of the game makes it even tougher to swallow the way it ended. Let there be no doubt it was a missed call. I had a chance to watch the replay on a big screen after the game and it was clear as day a glove pass by Brooks Macek. It’s clear enough that Hitmen defenceman Spencer Humphries admitted they got lucky in a Calgary Herald article. I had some question as to whether or not the puck hit Laurikainen’s stick before Rask’s, but it looked to me like that wasn’t the case… and either way you would think if the referees had noticed a gloved pass into the crease they’d have blown the play dead without obvious contact from a Bronco.

It sucks. It was a horrible time for a blown call and couldn’t be more costly to the Broncos. It doesn’t get much worse in terms of having a mistake by the officials impact the game.

That said… some of the reaction was over the top. They missed it but anyone suggesting the referees did anything more than make a mistake is way out of line. It’s silly to suggest officials are out to get any one team or another. These guys are human and are going to make mistakes. Should they be held accountable for those mistakes? Absolutely. That’s true of anyone in any job. That doesn’t mean there was any malice at all behind the error.

So why wasn’t the play reviewed? It’s not reviewable. There are a finite number of things the video goal judge can review and a glove pass leading to a goal isn’t one of them. If the puck had been batted right in they could have reviewed that, but not the pass before the goal. Should it be an option? It’s a subject we can debate though opening up plays before goals for review begs the question how far do you go? Do you review an offside before a goal? How far back before that goal can you go? In this case it sure felt like justice would have been served if that review was an option. I’m not sure how you would specifically change the rules to accommodate that.

The other thing that bothered me was the littering of the ice. I understand the frustration of Bronco fans. The fans were loud, proud and very supportive over the two home games this week. I loved being part of that atmosphere and can’t wait for the Broncos to force a game 6 so we can live through that again. However, think of how it makes you look when a small percentage of fans start littering the ice and in some cases even risk injuring people with containers that still had liquid in them? The boos and anger I totally understand… but not that. Please to anyone in that situation again in the future think twice about your actions and the perception they create.

The Broncos and Hitmen can both hold their heads high after a terrific hockey game. For Swift Current in particular I have never seen a hockey team work as hard as they have worked and display as much passion as they have displayed in this series. Outside of a couple of bad first periods and a bad overtime in game 1 they have executed the game plan exactly how the coaches would draw it up and given themselves every chance to win. The game plan the coaches drew up has been excellent and the team has followed it tremendously. It’s unfortunate they find themselves in a 3-1 hole when they are playing the right way… but Calgary is a terrific team too and we knew this wouldn’t be easy. You can do everything right against them and they can still find a way to win games.

A missed call in game 4 makes the mountain that much steeper. That doesn’t mean the Broncos are done. This group deals with adversity with steely resolve and I expect nothing less when we head to Calgary for game 5. Don’t count them out yet.

Here is my recap from Swift Current Online:

Controversy and heartbreak for the Swift Current Broncos last night.

Victor Rask scored 37 seconds into overtime to life the Calgary Hitmen to a 1-0 win over the Swift Current Broncos on Tuesday night. The victory gave Calgary a 3-1 lead in the first round best of seven series.

Controversy came as it appeared Brooks Macek was guilty of a glove pass on the winning goal.
“To see the look on 16, 17, 18 and 19 year old kids that just got cheated,” said Broncos Assistant Coach Jamie Heward. “That’s really unfortunate. I feel really bad for them. To have a game decided by non players… not acceptable. What else can I say? Everybody in the rink saw it.”

Glove passes before goals are not eligible for video review in the WHL regulations. The non-call sparked outrage from Bronco fans who littered the arena with boos and some littered the ice with trash.

Heward believes it could further galvanize the Broncos.

“They didn’t beat us tonight,” Heward said. “In our minds we did not lose to the Calgary Hitmen. I told our guys we did not get beat by that team. I think we can hold our heads and say going into Calgary that we feel pretty good about ourselves.”

Neither team gave up much room to operate as the game remained scoreless throughout regulation. It was an intense and physical game from both clubs.

“I’ve seen games like this at the pro level,” Heward said. “When you’re getting 17-19 year kids to buy in and do it at this level… is pretty impressive.”

The Broncos out-shot the Hitmen 28-27 in a game with not much to give between the opponents. Calgary had a slight edge in play and a 12-9 shot advantage after the first period, while the Broncos had a 13-8 advantage in the second period. Neither team got much to the net with only 6 shots a piece in a very tight third period.

Graham Black had the best chance for the Broncos on a give and go with Ryon Moser that Chris Driedger was barely able to deny.

Driedger made 28 saves to get the shutout for Calgary, while Eetu Laurikainen stopped all but the final controversial Calgary shot.

“To have the game end the way it did is definitely a deflating feeling,” said Broncos Captain Adam Lowry. “We know we played well. We didn’t give them any opportunities… there’s a lot of positives we can take into game 5 in Calgary. Our backs are kind of up against the wall down 3-1, but I think we’ve played well in the series. If we play another game as strong as we did tonight I think we are confident that we should get some success.”

After a combined 11 goals in game 1 the two clubs have really tightened up their defensive play.

“We noticed their speed coming through the neutral zone,” Heward said. We tried to not tweak too much of what we were doing from the regular season and it hurt us. We tried to move our guys back a little bit and just play a man on man. It’s worked for the most part. You’ve got to try to eliminate their speed, you’ve got to try and be in their face all the time… I think our guys have done a fantastic job.”

Now Swift Current will have to regroup with their season on the line on Thursday night in Calgary.

The Broncos are organizing a fan bus to the game and details are available at scbroncos.com. We will have the game on The Eagle 94.1 FM with The New Pioneer Co-op Home Centre Bronocs Hockey at 6:30pm on Thursday.

Game 6 if necessary would be played Saturday in Swift Current.

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About shawnmullin

Play by Play Broadcaster for the WHL's Swift Current Broncos on 94.1 FM The Eagle.
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9 Responses to Game 4: Hitmen 1 Broncos 0 (OT)

  1. Ken Audette says:

    In respect to the officiating making mistakes and having to be held accountable…absolutely, but my problem is they “DON’T HAVE TO BE”. Everyone else in the game has to be except the officials, they have to answer to NO ONE and they may have just cost the Broncos the series! I know at the end of the season or sometime over the next couple weeks we’ll get the head of officiating or the commissioner giving us the old standard comment “we will look at this and are always taking strides to upgrade our officiating ….” but that doesn’t excuse the fact that a horrible missed call probly cost us this series and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue that is crucial to the smallest market in the WHL. That blown call is about more than one game man…that was about the community and franchise, And as far as fans throwing stuff on the ice; well Shawn that’s been happening for decades in hockey arenas all over the country and it’s about passion man….it’s not right but it shows how much the fans care!! What would you have liked to seen…all the fans go aw shucks but that’s ok..good try refs! C’mon dude!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Shawn, I thought Adam Byblow and Chad Williams called a great game in game 3. Those are two proven East Conference referees who don’t get much credit for a job well done. Any idea why Brett Iverson and Jeff Ingram, two officials who do most of their work out west and are based out of Vancouver, were assigned to Swift last night? I believe this was their first game in Swift Current.

    It would be interesting to see potential revenue for the WHL for a deep Calgary playoff run vs. a deep Swift Current playoff run.

    And I certainly don’t condone the throwing of objects on the ice, but fans in Swift have been doing that for 27 years. Our Broncos are a big part of this community and when they get screwed it gets people emotional. It’s what we do here. I don’t condone it, but when you have a franchise that matters as much as the Broncos do to Swift Current that happens. The Broncos are our city’s identity, a big part of our economy and have a place in our hearts.

    • shawnmullin says:

      Sure I love the passion I think I made that clear… But throwing stuff on the ice tradition or not I can’t buy into. That’s just me.

      If you think for a second the WHL sent referees here to make sure the broncos didn’t win over revenue I don’t even know where to begin answering that. It’s absurd. I’m glad you care about the team and it really sucks the blown call has hurt them this much… I care too I know these guys and I want more than anything for them to have success… But that suggestion is absurd. That’s lizard aliens are living among us stuff.

      I really hope the Broncos can make this a moot point and I guess we’ll see. Again not downplaying the importance f the call… It sucks and it was a mistake…

  3. Anonymous says:

    For me, the problem with throwing things on the ice is it’s pointless. It’s not like the refs have to clean it up–the city workers at the rink already have enough to clean up after the games, let’s not make it worse for them!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Shawn, a lot of the “screwing the small market” talk is a little tongue in cheek. Comes with being the David to the whl goliath. This just adds to the ultimate underdog feeling this city/team has.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Its too bad the call was missed and we lost the game…we can’t change that now, unfortunately. Throwing bottles on the ice is unacceptable…but for the record, most of the bottles that were thrown onto the ice was done by younger kids…it was likely started by a few frustrated adults, but I saw a number of young kids daring each other to throw things on the ice, and they did. Not setting a great examle for our younger hockey fans. Anyway, a very shitty way to lose an overtime game that would have meant so much the the boys and their fans. Lets hope for a game 6…Go Broncos Go!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am pulling a Mark Messier & saying there will be a game six back here Sat night…I know this group will dig deep…Lets go boys!

  7. anonymous says:

    Sadly the same two refs are calling a game in PA tonight. Probably the same two linesmen. The League admits a mistake was made but doesn’t level any sanctions. The League should have had the stones to end that pair’s season forthwith. Incompetence of that degree can’t be tolerated yet it is, continually in the WHL. The loss of the game has huge implications beyond the obvious. It may have cost a small market team another playoff gate. It could be a huge financial loss. Instead of sending those two refs back home to the west coast they continue using them. That my friends is dead wrong.

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