The Swift Current Broncos made a quick trip up north for a date against the Saskatoon Blades on Friday night and played a solid game to pick up a 5-3 road win and guarantee themselves at least third place in the WHL’s East Division standings.
The Broncos got off to a slow start as Braylon Shmyr deposited his 33rd and 34th goals of the season under two minutes apart midway through the first period to place Swift Current in a 2-0 hole.
With a chance to clinch at least third place in the East Division on the line, the Broncos offence was the story the rest of the way. At the 12:37 mark of the second, the WHL’s leading scorer amongst rookies Aleksi Heponiemi redirected home his 27th goal of the season from the high slot off an initial low point shot from defenceman Artyom Minulin.
Then the Finnish Import was working his magic on the power play, skating around behind the Blades net before completing a sneaky backdoor pass to Tyler Steenbergen who made no mistake snapping in his team-leading 48th goal of the year.
It was dead even through two periods of play with the score being 2-2 to go along with 24 shots on goal apiece.
Early in the third period, Broncos forward Arthur Miller led a rush down the wing, pinched by between a Blades defender and the boards before finding line mate and Regina, SK native Conner Chaulk open about 15 feet out from the Blades net. Chaulk wired in a low shot five-hole by Brock Hamm to give the Broncos their first lead of the evening 3-2.
Swift Current then scored their fourth straight goal as Ryley Lindgren zoomed up the right boards and made a perfect pass to Steenbergen in the low slot for his second of the night and 49th goal, tying Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Tyler Wong for the league lead.
Evan Fiala made a terrific individual effort to help the Blades climb back within a goal. Fiala made a move towards the net from the deep end boards and his initial backhand attempt shot was stopped by the Broncos Taz Burman but he followed up his rebound to make it a close game at 4-3.
However, the Broncos power play went back to work as Max Lajoie completed a cross ice pass to Lane Pederson who one-timed a much needed insurance marker with 5:39 left to go in regulation.
Saskatoon pulled Hamm for the extra attacker with three minutes left in regulation but the Broncos defence was solid and they skated away to a 5-3 victory.
The Broncos were outshot 36-28 by the Blades but took advantage of their power play chances, going 2/4. Saskatoon scored once on four power play tries.
These two teams will meet again on Saturday night for the second half of the home-and-home set at the Credit Union i-Plex. Puck drop is at 7:00pm CT.