Swift Current Broncos holding their own in rebuild season

THE GAMES

After a surprising 3-2 overtime win over the Prince Albert Raiders on December 4th, that broke the Raiders win streak, the Swift Current Broncos haven’t been able to find the same momentum. But that’s not to say that they haven’t put a lot of dedication and commitment into their games.

On December 7th, they came close against the Calgary Hitmen, but just couldn’t finish the job. It was a evenly-played game throughout the first 20 minutes with both teams having good chances even though they couldn’t score. The Broncos Ethan O’Rourke scored his first goal of the season in the second period, but former Broncos forward, Riley Stotts, quickly tied the game for Calgary. In the final period, Swift Current came out ahead again with a goal by Joona Kiviniemi on a mistake in the Hitmen’s defensive zone. Again, Calgary tied the score soon afterwards. With less than 30 seconds left in regulation, the Hitmen scored the game winning goal and took the game by a score of 3-2.

The following day, on December 8th, the Broncos were still on the road and headed to Red Deer to take on the Rebels. Swift Current was still in the game after the first 20 minutes with a score of 2-1 after Alec Zawatsky buried their first goal. But the second period would prove too much for the Swift Current team and they wouldn’t be able to dig themselves out of a 4-1 deficit. The Rebels scored two more goals in the third, Matthew Culling would score for Swift Current, but Red Deer dominated the game with a 6-2 win.

With a few days off, the Broncos had time to rest and prepare to host the Regina Pats on December 12th. The Pats opened the scoring and earned a two-goal lead heading into the second period, but the Broncos fought back with firepower from their newer additions. Alec Zawatsky, Garrett Sambrook, and Austin Herron all had good chances on net, but just couldn’t capitalize. Andrew Fyten pressured the Pats net and buried the Broncos first goal. After Regina regained their two-goal lead, Fyten again closed the gap with a score of 3-2 at the end of the middle frame. Joona Kiviniemi tied it 3-3 in the third period and Tanner Nagel got the go-ahead goal with just over three minutes left in regulation. With a 6-on-4 at the end of the period, the Pats couldn’t earn back the tie and force overtime. Swift Current won their 6th game of the season with a 4-3 score.

And just when the Broncos started making a difference for themselves, just when things started working in their favour, Andrew Fyten was traded to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a conditional 5th round pick in the 2020 bantam draft. Whether it was a requested trade or the focus was to put pieces in place for the future of the Swift Current team, it was a big blow to the small town team. Fyten, originally from Alberta, was part of the 2017-2018 WHL Championship team in Swift Current. The Broncos acquired Fyten from the Calgary Hitmen last season as a key piece to the team that would make it to the WHL finals. In 27 games with the Broncos this season, Fyten notched 17 points (8 goals and 9 assists) before making a big impact in his first game with the Oil Kings, where he earned an assist in regulation time and the overtime winning goal for the Edmonton team.

Kobe Mohr-Andrew Fyten (Andy Devlin)

The Swift Current Broncos closed out the first part of the season with a home and home against the Prince Albert Raiders. The Raiders visited the iPlex on Friday, December 14th in front of over 2300 fans to face off in a feisty game against the hometown Broncos. The Swift Current team was physical and their play proved that they can capitalize on their grit and truculence. The game opened with a fight between Quinton Waitzner and Jakob Brook and was followed up by fisticuffs between Matthew Stanley and Parker Kelly, Matthew Stanley and Kody McDonald, Tanner Nagel and Jeremy Masella, and finally Tanner Nagel and Kody McDonald. It was a feisty game that ended with goals by Joona Kiviniemi, Alec Zawatsky, Connor Horning, and Matthew Culling. In spite of earning four goals, the Broncos fell to the top-rated Raiders 6-4.

Quinton Waitzner (photo-Andy Devlin)

The next evening was a rematch in Prince Albert. And it was a little less feisty and more a skilled game during the Raiders teddy bear toss. The teddy bears rained down as Prince Albert opened the scoring early in the first period. The Raiders went on to dominate play in the first 20 minutes, but newcomer, Dawson Springer, who had just signed a standard player agreement with the Swift Current Broncos, notched his first WHL goal to get the visiting team on the board. The Broncos took a 3-2 lead early in the middle frame with a goal by Kiviniemi and Culling would give the rebuilding Broncos a 4-2 lead. But Prince Albert would make a huge comeback. It was another high-scoring game between the Raiders and Broncos with a final score of 7-5 in favour of Prince Albert.

The Raiders have been almost unbeatable so far this season, but the struggling Swift Current team has proven that they have what it takes to contend in the league with their nine goals in two games against the CHL’s highest ranking team. It would have been really easy for the Broncos to roll over and give up in a season that many could have considered a write-off due to the rebuild, but they continue to produce good plays, legitimate goals, and solid goaltending. If they keep up the hard work and commitment, eventually they will pull themselves out of the basement.

THE PLAYERS

It’s been a busy week of signings for the Swift Current team. December 13th saw the signing of Dawson Springer, who played his first game with the Broncos two days later. On December 15th, they signed Humboldt Broncos defenseman, Chase Lacombe, to a standard player agreement. And, most recently, the Broncos signed Devin Aubin to a standard player agreement.

Eric Houk has been out with an injury since late November, but is expected back in the lineup after the Christmas break. Newly acquired Carter Chorney has yet to make his debut, but he is also expected to play after the holidays.

The Swift Current Broncos are now taking a break for the Christmas season and will return to the ice on Thursday, December 27th when they will travel to Moose Jaw to take on the Warriors.

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