Broncos punch their ticket to the WHL Championship


With the Broncos leading the WHL Eastern Conference Championship best-of-seven three games to two, Swift Current had a chance to eliminate the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Monday night at the Enmax Centre and they did just that by scoring five unanswered goals in a 5-1 victory.

Calen Addison scored the opening goal for Lethbridge when he received a solid pass from teammate Keltie Jeri-Leon and released a wrist shot by the glove hand of Broncos goaltender Stuart Skinner.

The Edmonton Oilers prospect Skinner was a monster in the first period, totalling 19 saves on 20 shots to allow Swift Current to remain in a close game on the score board, only down 1-0 in a period in which the visiting team was outshot 20-2.

Period number two was a completely different story as the offence arrived. Broncos forward Matteo Gennaro scored the first Bronco goal as he received a pass, spun towards the goal and simply put a wrist shot on net that got by Hurricanes netminder Logan Flodell.

The Gennaro goal sparked the Broncos offence as forwards Aleksi Heponiemi and Beck Malenstyn lit the lamp to quickly give the squad a 3-1 lead. Heponiemi snuck a low backhander by Flodell next door to the Canes crease while Malenstyn netted a shorthanded goal for his second of the playoffs and third Swift Current marker overall in a 1:36 span.

The Broncos got in a bit of penalty trouble throughout the middle frame, taking three minor infractions but their penalty kill was up to the task in killing off all of them to keep the score 3-1 heading to period number three.

Former Lethbridge Hurricane Giorgio Estephan tapped in his team-leading seventh goal of the series on an early power play in the final period to give the Broncos a comfortable 4-1 margin.

Malenstyn sealed the Broncos fate with his second of the game on an empty netter with 3:09 left in regulation.

Skinner was outstanding, recording 33 saves for his 12th victory of the postseason while blue liner Artyom Minulin tallied two assists to go along with a plus-4 rating in the win.

Shots on goal were 34-27 in favour of Lethbridge. Swift Current’s power play went 1/5 while their penalty kill blanked the Hurricanes power play units on five chances of their own.

With the victory, the Swift Current Broncos advance to the 2018 Rogers WHL Championship Series for the first time since 1993. The Broncos will take on the Everett Silvertips in the WHL Championship Series after the Silvertips pulled off a stunning 6-5 comeback victory in overtime against the Tri-City Americans to win the Western Conference Championship best-of-seven set 4-2.

Game One of the 2018 Rogers WHL Championship Series is slated for Friday, May 4th at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex at 7:00pm.

Scott Harrigan
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