- Click here for the boxscore
- Click here for the Swift Current Online recap
- Click here for the official website recap
- Click here for video highlights
Highlights of The New Pioneer Co-op Home Centre Broncos Hockey (Download)
Post-Game Interview with Darren Evjen (Download)
Pre-Game Interview with Chance Lund (Dowload)
Pre-Game Interview with Mark Lamb (Download)
Pre-Game Interview with Hitmen Head Coach Mike Williamson (Download)
- B&A Petroleum Game Shifter: Hitmen 3rd goal
- Low Cost Towing Unsung Hero: Zac Mackay
- Standard Motors Crunch of the Game: Adam Lowry
- Herbert Auto Tough Guy of the Game: Adam Lowry
I’m really starting to feel like I’m writing the story again and again. The Broncos were in the game and had a very good chance to win or at least get points… but didn’t. A very different game from the contest in Red Deer, yet I imagine almost as hard to swallow.
It was a game where they certainly seemed to lack energy and cohesion in the first half. You have to give them a lot of credit for digging deep after what was a listless start and finding another gear to comeback and make a game of it.
One thing really worth noting is that despite Swift Current’s ineffective play with the puck in the first half of the game they really didn’t give up much. Even while creating minimal offensive pressure early they defended very well and limited Calgary’s high quality scoring chances. That commitment to their defensive game gave them the chance to come back later.
Graham Black was terrific. He was the best player on the ice especially as they got deeper into the game. He and Moser had a really nice give-and-go that didn’t result in a goal before Black eventually got a couple to tie it in the third. If you watch the video highlights you can sort of just see him take the puck and take over the play as he started the rush from his own zone on Swift Current’s first goal. Bews also deserves a lot of credit on that one as he made a nice move and a really well placed pass.
I’m starting to wonder if Black doesn’t better serve the second power play unit. The first unit has a pretty strong structure run through Scarlett and Nedomlel on the point with a very impressive presence down low. Perhaps having Black on the second unit better allows him to open up the ice and display his creativity by running that unit through him. On the occasions where we see him in that role it does seem to do just that. I’m curious to see if Coach Lamb will stick with Cave on the top unit and Black on the second unit going forward.
Unfortunately for Swift Current all the positive feelings they had after coming back to tie the game were erased when Calgary quickly scored to re-take the lead after the Broncos failed to clear and Kosterman blasted a great shot by Laurikainen. Those of you who listened to the broadcast heard me harp on the back-to-back fights just before that by Nedomlel and Reum a few times throughout the post-game show. That’s not because I don’t respect their willingness to stand up and be counted physically. Both players are team guys who will block shots, take punishment, dish it out and stand up for their teammates. I’m sure their hearts were in the right place when they got in those scraps… but it was bad timing.
The Broncos were forced not only to drop down to four defencemen in the most important moments of the game, but two of those guys were rookies and one of them had only played a handful of shifts in the game. That should never happen if it’s self-inflicted.
Again though I appreciate that both guys are willing to battle. The issue is just that they are both such valuable players that they were huge losses late in the game at both ends of the ice.
The bottom line of this game is a familiar one. It’s good that the Broncos are in almost every game they play. They show night and night out that they compete with any team in this league… heck they even out-chance most of them. Unfortunately you don’t get a ton of points for close. It just feels like this team is so close to getting on one of those big roles where all the little things that kept them from winning tight games start going their way. Hopefully for their sake it comes soon as I can only imagine how frustrating it is as a player and coach to be that close and have big wins slip out of your grasp.
Here is my recap from Swift Current Online:
Peter Kosterman’s goal at 12:43 of the third period pulled Calgary ahead of Swift Current for good on Sunday afternoon. They’d add an insurance marker into the empty net to secure a 4-2 victory.
The goal came with veteran defencemen Richard Nedomlel and Dalton Reum in the penalty box for fighting shortly after the Broncos had tied the game.
“They’ve got to make good decisions,” said Broncos Assistant Coach Darren Evjen. “We’re nine minutes left and we’re tied 2-2, we need them on the ice and they have to understand the situation.”
The fights left the Broncos with four defencemen and forced their two rookies to defend against tougher opposition than they would usually face. The Hitmen took advantage as the returning Victor Rask won a puck battle behind the net and set up Kosterman’s one-timer to the top corner. It was Rask’s first game after being sent back to the Hitmen from the American Hockey League.
For the second straight night the Broncos had some good pressure with their goaltender pulled late and couldn’t find the equalizer.
The game didn’t start well for the Broncos as coming off their battle in Red Deer the night before they didn’t seem sharp and only had 5 shots through 30 minutes of play.
“We looked like we were in the sand a little bit,” Evjen said. “I thought as the game went on we got more and more guys skating.”
Despite not connecting offensively, Swift Current still limited Calgary’s chances and only gave up one goal through the first fourty minutes. It was Cody Sylvester who made a great move in tight to put the Hitmen up 1-0 at the 12:55 mark of the first period.
Swift Current started turning the game around when Hitmen forward Brendan Hurley went off for roughing at 10:30 of the second period and the Broncos had their first power play. The man advantage and a fight between Chance Lund and Josh Thrower seemed to build momentum for the Broncos as they put 9 shots on goal in the second half of the period and seemed to be closing the gap.
“When you get some momentum going, you get some chances, you get some life back,” Evjen said. “Once we started moving our feet and getting some chances it brings some life into the bench.”
Pavlo Padakin padded Calgary’s lead with a shorthanded goal caused by a miscommunication between Broncos goaltender Eetu Laurikainen and his defencemen on a puck behind their net. Padakin also later added Calgary’s empty net goal.
Swift Current got the goal right back in nice give-and-go between Graham Black and Levi Bews on the power play. Black then equalized the game by stealing a Spencer Humphries clearing attempt that hit the referee and tucking the puck in behind Calgary goaltender Chris Driedger. Black’s 11th and 12th goals of the season came in his 100th career WHL game.
“Black was just flying today,” Evjen noted. “After the first he wheels were really going… he’s just so dynamic with his skating.”
It wasn’t surprising to see the two teams engage in a few scraps. Calgary leads the WHL in fighting majors with 36 and the Broncos aren’t far behind with 30. Adam Lowry and Spencer Humphries actually had the first fight of the game late in the first period.
The loss drops Swift Current to 9-11-3-2 and a tie for 8th in the Eastern Conference. Calgary moved to 14-5-1-2 and sit 2nd in the conference.
The Broncos continue their Alberta road swing in Edmonton on Tuesday night. We’ll have the game for you on The Eagle 94.1 FM with The New Pioneer Co-op Home Centre Broncos Hockey at 7:30pm.
Video tour of the pressbox in Calgary: