Josh Derko scored twice, Reece Scarlett had 3 assists and the Swift Current Broncos won their third straight game, 4-2 over Prince Albert tonight. It was a nice comeback win the Broncos as they got behind 2-0 in the first period before taking control of the second half of the game.
This was the only pre-season game I didn’t attend, but from listening to Drew Wilson’s broadcast I got the sense that Adam Lowry was again an absolute force for Swift Current. He scored the game winner and was selected first star of the game on the air. Scarlett earned third star for his 3 assist game. It was a big game for the New Jersey Devils prospects as in addition to Scarlett’s 3 points, Graham Black scored his second of the pre-season on the PP to tie the game.
German Leon Draisaitl had 2 assists for the Raiders and earned second star from the Raiders broadcast. He is someone to watch with 6 points in 3 games now. I don’t know if fans in Gull Lake will get to see him, but I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table.
From the sounds of it, the Broncos got off to a good start. They were banging bodies and creating chances even after Prince Albert opened the scoring a couple of minutes in. The PA broadcast suggested the tide turned after a Richard Nedomlel penalty and the Raiders took control for the remainder of the first period. Mark McNeill added to the PA lead with only 28 seconds to go in the period and the Raiders seemed in full control.
Special teams can be such a momentum swinger. Just like the Raiders PP gave them a boost in the first, another Raiders PP turned the momentum in Swift Current’s favour when Josh Derko converted a 2 on 1 into his first goal of the pre-season. The shorthanded goal is often a killer and can completely change the complexion of a game. That’s as close as the Broncos would get in the second period and the Raiders carried their lead into the final 20.
Building off the Derko goal, the Broncos got a power play tally early in the third (Black’s goal) and came all the way back with Lowry’s game winner at 15:07. Apparently Coda Gordon made a really nice play to set Lowry up. That was all the Broncos needed as Derko put the game on ice with his empty netter. Derko has been working hard and playing physical all pre-season and it’s good to see him get rewarded for that with some scoring.
Eetu Laurikainen showed the kind of poise and resilience that Bronco fans were hoping for from the import netminder. Despite giving up 2 goals in the first period and having his team in an early deficit, Laurikainen stood his ground and shut the door the rest of the way. He ended up with 36 saves on the night.
You may think Laurikainen’s .923 save percentage is impressive, but he actually should be significantly ahead of that. Shots weren’t counted on the stat sheet in Maple Creek so even with a conservative estimate for the number of shots he faced in that game we’re talking about closer to a .945 save percentage for Eetu in 157 minutes of work. A 1.92 goals against average and .945 save percentage are more than impressive enough to give the coaching staff confidence their likely #1 is ready for the job.
Now what happens with Myland and Bow? Myland has placed 88 minutes with a sparkling .951 save percentage and Bow has played 91 minutes with an .821 save percentage. In limited pre-season duty Myland has certainly outperformed Bow. However, Bow’s numbers were really only hurt by one game against Calgary. Is that enough time to really establish a who should be the second goalie here? I would have to assume we’ll see one or both in goal on Saturday in Gull Lake. You also have to realize that the coaching staff has been watching both guys all throughout camp and practice. I don’t imagine any decision they make will come entirely from those two games.
That will certainly be an interesting subplot of Saturday’s game.
The rookies were held off the score sheet tonight, but Bobby Zinkan did add up some serious penalty minutes by dropping the gloves with the older and bigger McNeill. It may not have gone in his favour, but you have to appreciate his guts in being willing to do it.
Checking the pre-season stats you can see that Gordon has picked up where he left off last year. After 8 points in 6 exhibition games last fall, Gordon has 6 points in 4 games this year.
Now there is only one game to go. One last game to make an impression Saturday night in Gull Lake. That will also be our first broadcast of the season live on The Eagle 94.1 FM. I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle. We’ll see if the Broncos can end what has been a successful pre-season on a high.