Darwin Knelsen

Swift Current Broncos lead series 1-0 with 3-2 win over Lethbridge Hurricanes

The Swift Current Broncos hosted the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the iPlex in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Hurricanes started their first forward line while the Broncos started their second line. In net, Stuart Skinner defended the crease while Logan Flodell was between the pipes for Lethbridge.

In spite of the shots in net 18-10 in favour of the visiting team, Stuart Skinner stood tall in net for Swift Current in the opening frame. Lethbridge had the edge in the first 20 minutes, setting up plays in the Broncos zone, forechecking, and blocking shots in front of Logan Flodell. When the Broncos got physical, the Hurricanes pushed back. Neither team could score in the power play. Swift Current had one opportunity while Lethbridge had two opportunities on the man advantage. The Hurricanes came into the game with an appetite to win and they dominated the first period even though the first 20 minutes was scoreless.

Swift Current picked up the pace in the second period and took control. Their power play needed a bit of work, but they quickly got it figured out and generated some offence that was lacking in the first. When Logan Flodell went to retrieve the puck behind the net and dump it out front, the Broncos took possession just as Flodell tripped as he made his way back into his net. Max Patterson took a shot before Flodell could get himself back into position and Swift Current was up 1-0. After a high-sticking call on the Hurricanes Taylor Ross, Lethbridge had a 3-on-2 short-handed chance in the Swift Current end, but the Broncos briskly regained possession. Aleksi Heponiemi passed over to Giorgio Estephan who bounced it off Flodell and into the net. Swift Current then had a 2-0 lead. With less than one minute left in the middle frame, rookie phenom Dylan Cozens scored for Lethbridge, but it was waved off by the refs because of high-sticking. The Swift Current Broncos headed into the third period with a 2-0 cushion.

Stuart Skinner (Andy Devlin photo)

Again, Lethbridge took control of the game, setting the pace for most of the third period. Logan Flodell didn’t allow many rebounds on the Broncos chances and the Lethbridge defense turned it up a notch. Then the Hurricanes got their chance. Jordy Bellerive carried the puck over the line into the Swift Current zone and passed to Taylor Ross. Ross passed over to Matthew Stanley who found redemption against his former team and put the Hurricanes on the board. With a 2-1 score, Glenn Gawdin was hauled off to the penalty box for a high-stick. Lethbridge took a few hard shots, but it was Calen Addison from the blue line that would tie the game 2-2. Swift Current regained the lead when Tyler Steenbergen couldn’t bury a chance and Glenn Gawdin picked up the puck behind the net to pass to Aleksi Heponiemi. Heponiemi put home his very first WHL playoff goal and gave the Broncos a 3-2 lead.

With a little bit of puck luck and an amazing performance by Stuart Skinner in net, the Swift Current Broncos won 3-2 in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals. Stuart Skinner made 39 saves on 41 shots. Logan Flodell stopped 27 of 30 shots. Game two takes place in Swift Current Saturday, April 21 at the iPlex.

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