The Swift Current Broncos began their final multi-game road trip of the season on Saturday night against the Red Deer Rebels at the ENMAX Centrium and held a two-goal lead in the third period before falling by a 5-3 score.
The first period did not have much to report as there were no goals or penalties by either team but goaltenders Joel Hofer for Swift Current and Riley Lamb were effective, combining for 13 saves.
Brandon Hagel opened the scoring for the Rebels 1:28 into the second period, sneaking a high wrist shot just past the glove hand of Hofer but the Broncos responded quickly.
20-year-old forward Giorgio Estephan has quietly put together a marvelous season for Swift Current, again contributing on the score sheet on Saturday, knocking in his 27th goal of the season just a minute and change after Hagel’s goal. Tyler Steenbergen made a great individual effort to dangle around a couple Rebels in their territory and then zipped a backhand pass right to the stick of Estephan.
Matteo Gennaro then positioned the Broncos ahead 2-1 after notching his 37th of the year by scrambling in front of Rebels goal and getting just enough time to bang it in. Kole Gable and Noah King drew the assists on the play.
The Broncos Glenn Gawdin and the Rebels Alexander Alexeyev got in a good tilt in the final 10 seconds of second period action, each accounting for five minutes in penalties for fighting.
Gawdin executed a wraparound to perfection, sneaking the puck through the five-hole of Lamb to extend the Broncos cushion to 3-1. The point by Gawdin put him in a tie for sixth with Bryan Trottier on the Broncos all-time scoring list at 301 points.
A Broncos turnover in their own end resulted in a goal for Grayson Pawlenchuk, shifting the score to a one-goal game.
Pawlenchuk netted his second of the night on a wraparound chance to draw the Rebels even against the Broncos 3-3.
The tough bounces went against Swift Current late in the third period as Chris Douglas scored the fourth Rebels goal on a play in which Hofer made the initial save but the puck got loose and he tapped it in behind the young goaltender.
With 3:10 left in regulation and the Broncos trailing by one, the team pulled Hofer for the extra attacker but couldn’t get the tying goal in a 5-3 road loss.
Shots on goal were 31-28 in favour of Red Deer. The Broncos went scoreless on their lone power play chance but the penalty kill was 2/2.
Swift Current travels north to square off against the Edmonton Oil Kings for their fourth and final meeting of the regular season on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Place. Puck drop is at 5:00pm CT.