December 30th, 2016 will stand as a historic day for the Swift Current Broncos as it marked the 30th anniversary of the bus crash that claimed the lives of former players Trent Kresse, Brent Ruff, Scott Kruger and Chris Mantyka.
The families of the four fallen Broncos were in attendance and were brought onto the ice as special guests for a pre-game presentation to pay tribute to the loved ones that they along with the community of Swift Current lost on December 30th, 1986. Altogether, 24 family members were brought onto the ice and were welcomed with commemorative gifts, a round of applause and a ceremonial puck drop. This was followed by a moment of silence so everybody in attendance could reflect on what was a dark day in the world of junior hockey.
Earlier in the day, the Four Broncos monument was unveiled at the scene of the accident. Families, friends, Broncos staff, teams, coaches, fans and citizens of Swift Current made their way for the reveal and it will stand as a remembrance to everyone it impacted.
Following the pre-game ceremony, the game got underway and it was well even through the opening minutes of play.
Josh Paterson scored the opening goal for the Saskatoon Blades midway through the first period on a power play chance with assists going to Jesse Shynkaruk and Mark Rubinchik.
Saskatoon then increased their lead to 2-0 as Lukus MacKenzie tallied his fifth of the year 7:29 into the second period. But the comeback kids produced more magic to lift the spirits of all in attendance.
Ottawa Senators prospect Max Lajoie lit the lamp for the Broncos to send the crowd into an uproar less than a minute after the second Saskatoon goal occurred. The goal came on a Broncos power play with Artyom Minulin and Lane Pederson collecting the helpers.
The momentum kept swinging the Broncos way as Kole Gable skated down the right wing and wired a low wrist shot by Blades netminder Brock Hamm and before one could blink, the game was knotted at 2-2.
The third period proved to be nerve-racking as both teams played a conservative style with limited scoring chances being generated due to tremendous defensive play. The teams combined for only nine shots in the final 20 minutes and overtime was needed to solve this one.
In three-on-three overtime, it was Broncos forward Kaden Elder that capped off an incredible evening as he buried a rebound while placed in front of the Blades’ net to send his club to an emotional 3-2 victory.
Shots on goal were 35-23 in favour of Swift Current. The Blades went 1/2 on the man advantage while the Broncos finished 1/4.
Swift Current returns to action on New Years Day, facing the Blades again to complete the back end of a back-to-back at 2:05pm CST at the SaskTel Centre.