It was quite possibly the biggest game of the season for the Swift Current Broncos and Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday night as the winning club would move into first place in the WHL’s East Division standings. Unfortunately, the Broncos came out on the wrong side of a very physical and potential playoff preview, dropping a 4-2 decision.
Five minutes into the contest, Branden Klatt got in behind Broncos goaltender Stuart Skinner and batted in a puck that was sitting along the goal line. Skinner got a piece of Oleg Sosunov’s point shot but the puck slowly squeaked out of his equipment and it led to the goal from Klatt.
Warriors forward Jayden Halbgewachs scored his league high 67th goal of the season by completing a cut towards the Broncos goal from behind the net and lifting a high backhander over Skinner.
It was a rough opening period for the Broncos as they took four minor penalties and were down 2-0 after 20 minutes of play, being outshot 16-5.
Justin Almeida made it 3-0 Warriors midway through the second period, leading to rookie goaltender Joel Hofer entering the game in relief of Skinner.
Swift Current forward Tanner Nagel and Moose Jaw’s Tristyn DeRoose got in a spirited tilt on the ensuing draw as Nagel was looking to spark his team.
Down 3-0, Kaden Elder got the Broncos on the board 2:02 into the third period, trimming down the deficit to 3-1. Aleksi Heponiemi earned the lone assist on the goal.
Klatt scored his second of the game for the Warriors at the 11:03 mark in the third period to put the Broncos down three goals at 4-1.
Beck Malenstyn continued his recent hot streak, tipping in his 16th of the season late in the game on a Broncos power play to draw his club closer 4-2.
Tempers continued to be displayed by both teams as Broncos defenceman Sahvan Khaira and the Warriors’ Klatt got exchanged in a tussle, resulting in five minute majors each for fighting amongst four other game misconducts that were handed out in the final minutes of play.
The Broncos pulled Hofer down the stretch for the extra attacker but it was too little, too late as Swift Current could not stir up any late magic.
Shots on goal were 39-23 in favour of Moose Jaw. Swift Current went 1/5 on the man advantage while Moose Jaw finished 1/8.
The Swift Current Broncos remain in second place in the WHL’s East Division, boasting a 47-16-4-2 record and enter the final week of the regular season. Next up is a home date against the Saskatoon Blades for the eighth and final meeting between these two rivals on Wednesday, March 14th. Puck drop is set for 7:00pm CT.