The Swift Current Broncos welcomed the return of Finnish Import Aleksi Heponiemi after being away at World Juniors a night after Russian Import Artyom Minulin returned from World Juniors one day earlier and they were the stars tonight for the home team.
Heponiemi gave the Broncos an early 1-0 lead on a Swift Current power play, as he went from right to left along the Rebels blue line and threw the puck on net, fooling Rebels goaltender Riley Lamb. Colby Sissons and Glenn Gawdin received the assists on the play.
Red Deer answered back on a power play opportunity as Kristian Reichel beat Broncos goaltender Joel Hofer five-hole from outside the left faceoff dot in Swift Current territory.
Matteo Gennaro continued his dynamic play as of late, wiring his 27th of the season upstairs on Lamb less than a minute after the goal from the Rebels’ Reichel.
Red Deer took more penalties in the first period and it cost them as the Broncos netted another pair of man advantage markers. Heponiemi completed a beautiful long cross-ice pass to Gennaro who one-timed a high snapper in the top corner, giving Swift Current a 3-1 margin. Then it was Minulin who banged home a rebound chance from in close, rewarding the Broncos for their third power play goal and a 4-1 cushion through 20 minutes.
The second period was very defensive as both clubs combined for just eight shots on goal. The Broncos’ Sissons and the Rebels’ Brandon Cutler dropped the gloves towards the end of the period and exchanged a few punches before landing five minute majors for fighting.
Minulin chipped in with his second goal of the night at the 6:11 mark of the third period to give the Broncos a large 5-1 lead. The goal by Minulin was assisted by Gennaro and Heponiemi while also marking the Broncos fourth power play goal of the afternoon. 5-1 was the final score as the Broncos earned five out of a possible six points over their three-in-three set.
Hofer turned aside 19 shots to earn his fifth win of the season in what was a steady outing for the 17-year-old rookie goaltender.
Swift Current outshot Red Deer 31-20. The Broncos power play was electric, depositing four goal on six tries while the Rebels finished 1/5.
Swift Current returns to action on Friday, January 12th when they faceoff against the Prince Albert Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drop is set for 7:00pm CT.