The Swift Current Broncos saw the departure of some big names before enduring two games at the end of the week. They had a pair of games this past weekend when they hosted the Regina Pats on Friday, October 5th and then travelled to Moose Jaw to take on the Warriors Saturday, October 6th. Both games were similar with a lot of energy, but the Broncos are still winless on the season.
On October 2nd, it was announced that Ryan Pouliot was claimed off waivers by the Vancouver Giants. The Broncos are now down to four overage players, which include Artyom Minulin, Tanner Nagel, Andrew Fyten, and Matthew Stanley. Minulin is hurt and it is unknown if or when he might return.
Mackenzie Wight’s name has disappeared from the Swift Current Broncos roster as well. Wight was part of the WHL Championship team last season and has since decided to leave the Broncos club. Dean Brockman spoke with David Zammit of Swift Current Online and explained that Wight “decided that he wanted to play closer to home.” It’s a big loss for Swift Current as Mackenzie Wight was progressing nicely through his WHL career.
On October 5th, Swift Current renewed their rivalry with the Regina Pats on home ice. The Broncos started out with a lot of energy, and Alec Zawatsky opened the scoring for the home team with a power play goal. It didn’t take the Pats long to even the score with a lot pressure on Joel Hofer later in the period. Regina would gain the lead just before the buzzer. In the second period, Eric Houk would earn his first WHL goal and tie the game for Swift Current, but Regina was on their heels and took the lead again with only 17 seconds left in the middle frame. But the Broncos would not quit and Ethan Regnier tied the game again early in the third period. Two quick goals by Regina would give them a comfortable 5-3 lead before Tanner Nagel was pushed face-first into the boards. Matthew Stanley ended up with a retaliation penalty in the scuffle and the fans made it clear that they were not happy with that result. The Pats would score again, giving them a 6-3 lead. But the Broncos weren’t done yet. Alec Zawatsky put the pedal to the metal and scored another goal, putting Swift Current within two goals. Andrew Fyten buried a power play goal, but the Broncos fell short by one in a 6-5 final score.
In a similar scenario the following evening, Swift Current travelled to Moose Jaw. The Warriors got on the board first. They didn’t give the Broncos much breathing room in the beginning, but Joel Hofer stood solid in net to keep the Swift Current team alive. The Broncos took an early penalty, but their penalty kill would be the difference-maker throughout the game. Moose Jaw got only one shot off in their first man-advantage. Again, Zawatsky opened the door for the Broncos in the first period and tied the game 1-1. And again, with not even two seconds left on the clock, the Warriors took a 2-1 lead heading into the second period. Early in the middle period, a minor mistake by the Broncos defense would give the Warriors a 3-1 lead before the final 20 minutes of play. When Moose Jaw scored another goal to start the third period, all hope was lost. Until the Broncos never-quit attitude showed up again and they fought back. Connor Horning buried the first comeback goal on a power play, and then Ethan Regnier and Max Patterson would add to the score, but one more goal by the Warriors Ryan Peckford would solidify the 5-4 win for the home team in another great comeback by the Swift Current Broncos.
What went right?
Ben King is continuing to develop nicely since last season. His back-checking, skating, speed, and smart plays on the ice have improved as well as his two-way play.
The forward pairing of Matthew Culling and Alec Zawatsky, along with defenseman Connor Horning have clearly made the most impact recently. Culling sets up plays for his teammates and Zawatsky knows where to be on the ice to make the biggest difference. Culling has earned two assists in his last two games and Zawatsky has notched three goals and an assist. Horning, who has made an impact with his offensive-defense, has earned a goal and an assist in his last two games.
The most important factor to success during this rebuilding season is the never-quit attitude from the Swift Current Broncos. Being down 6-3 or 5-2 doesn’t mean much to the new team and everyone is buying into the rebuild. Each player knows their role on the team and they step up at key moments to help their team come within one goal of overtime. If they can keep up the momentum, success will follow eventually.
Other Broncos Notes
On October 4th, former Broncos defenseman, Max Lajoie made his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators. It was also the night that he buried his first NHL goal. October 6th was the debut of Tyler Steenbergen and Matteo Gennaro in their professional hockey careers with the AHL Tucson Roadrunners. Gennaro also earned his first pro goal against the San Diego Gulls in a 6-4 win for Tucson. As well, former Broncos captain, Glenn Gawdin earned his first pro goal in a 6-5 overtime loss with the AHL Stockton Heat.
The Swift Current Broncos are back on home ice again on Friday, October 12th when they host the Spokane Chiefs and then they will travel to Brandon on Saturday to play the Wheat Kings.