BRANDON, MB – The Swift Current Broncos (3-8-1-2) dropped a 5-0 game to the Brandon Wheat Kings (7-9-0-0) Friday night, but the gap would have been much larger if not for the play of goaltender Reece Klassen.
Under siege in the opening minutes of the game, Klassen racked up double digits in saves before the period was 10 minutes old.
Brandon was going to get a power play with a delayed penalty coming up to Matthew Culling, but Jonny Lambos took exception to the goalie interference and dropped the gloves with Culling, negating the power play.
After killing off a penalty shortly after the scrap, the Broncos received a five-minute power play after Braden Schneider was given a game misconduct for kneeing Joona Kiviniemi in the neutral zone.
Kiviniemi stayed on the ice for a few minutes before getting back to his feet and sitting on the bench. He missed a few shifts but returned to play regularly for the remainder of the game.
The Broncos had one grade A scoring chance on the man advantage as Carter Chorney was robbed on a cross-ice pass by Ethan Kruger. The Brandon goalie stretched out with his blocker to take away what looked like an open net and fell on the rebound.
During the ensuing scrum, Chorney was called for slashing to put the game four-on-four for 50 seconds, though nothing came of the following power play.
Before the period was up the Wheat Kings took the lead. After doing nearly a full lap of the Broncos zone with the puck, Nolan Ritchie went behind the Broncos net before sliding the puck in front for Cole Reinhardt who fired it past an outstretched Klassen with 4:19 left in the period.
The big moment of the second period was Garrett Sambrook being given a five-minute major for checking from behind when he pushed Riley Ginnell into the boards deep in his own zone.
With just 31 seconds left in the period, Luka Burzan’s centring pass from the goal line went off the side of the net and right to the slot Ritchie to wire a slap shot past Klassen to make it 2-0 Brandon after two.
Just 53 seconds into the third, Ben King was called for goalie interference off a shorthanded rush, giving the Wheat Kings a full two-minute five-on-three power play.
Klassen stood tall for the entire kill, turning aside nearly 10 shots during the sequence to keep the game within striking distance.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, they couldn’t find their offensive touch as Ginell, Ritchie and Ben McCartney all scored in the final five minutes of the game and Kruger turned aside all 24 shots for his first career WHL shutout.
The Broncos now look to end the two-game Manitoba swing with a victory as they take on the Winnipeg ICE (7-6-1-0) Saturday night, who are coming off an 8-2 thumping at the hands of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.