Broncos hang on to defeat Winterhawks in frantic finish
The Swift Current Broncos made a visit to Veterans Memorial Coliseum to clash against a tough Portland Winterhawks squad in Game Two of the club’s five-game U.S. swing on Friday night. An entertaining affair saw the Broncos pull off a 5-3 win to extend the team’s winning streak to six in a row.
4:45 into the game, 20-year-old forward Giorgio Estephan accomplished a very special achievement, scoring his 20th goal of the season to not only put the Broncos up 1-0, but the goal marked his 300th career WHL point. On another note, Florida Panthers prospect Aleksi Heponiemi tallied the lone helper to extend his point scoring streak to 26 games, leading all WHL skaters.
It was an emotional atmosphere and frustration was present as the Broncos’ Tanner Nagel and the Winterhawks’ Lukus MacKenzie each received unsportsmanlike penalties in what was a hard hitting first period.
The Winterhawks tied it up at the 14:11 mark as forward Skyler McKenzie did a turnaround snap shot and it beat Broncos netminder Stuart Skinner off the post low and in.
Colby Sissons buried his 10th marker on a perfectly executed three-on-one odd man rush in the second period. The tic-tac-toe play included Heponiemi registering his second helper of the night while Kaden Elder tacked on the other assist to make it a 2-1 game.
Broncos forward Beck Malenstyn received a two-minute minor for hooking and the Winterhawks capitalized on the resulting power play as Alex Overhardt tipped home Portland’s second goal. Shots favoured the Winterhawks 23-18 when the second period concluded.
Malenstyn made up for his earlier penalty, scoring the go-ahead goal just over a minute into the third period. Blue liner Josh Anderson collected his second point as a Bronco with the primary assist.
The Winterhawks Overhardt took a double-minor penalty for high-sticking and Swift Current made them pay. Sissons lasered a high wrist shot from the middle of the point to increase the Broncos lead to 4-2. Heponiemi and Estephan drew the helpers for their third points of the game respectively.
Winterhawks forward Joachim Blichfeld backhanded a loose puck during a mad scramble in the Broncos crease to make it a one-goal game with 2:05 left in regulation.
The Winterhawks pulled netminder Cole Kehler again and the Broncos survived a frantic final 60 seconds to hang on for the 5-3 win as Nagel sealed it late with a 150-foot empty net goal.
Skinner backstopped 34 shots to keep his run of perfection going since joining the Swift Current Broncos, improving his record to 4-0-0.
Shots on goal favoured the Winterhawks 37-26. Both clubs went 1/3 on the power play.
Next up for Swift Current is a trip up north where they will battle the defending WHL Champion Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday night at the ShoWare Center. Puck drop is slated for 9:05pm CT.