SWIFT CURENT, SK – The Swift Current Broncos (9-27-1-3) held a 3-1 lead through 40 minutes against the Calgary Hitmen (22-13-4-1) Wednesday night, but the Hitmen took over in the third, pulling even before winning in the shootout.
Swift Current found themselves down early as Carson Focht got Calgary on the board just 2:15 into the game. After Riley Stotts’ shot missed the net, the puck came off the end boards and right to Focht for the open-net tap in.
The Broncos pulled even less than four minutes later. D-Jay Jerome came down the right wing and toe dragged around a defender before firing the puck over Jack McNaughton’s glove to tie the game. It was his first as a Bronco and 15th of the season.
Calgary ran into penalty trouble late in the first as Tyson Galloway and Jett Woo were called for penalties just six seconds apart, giving Swift Current a lengthy five-on-three.
Jaxan Kaluski made it count; his centring pass from the goal line bounced off the stick of Dakota Krebs and fooled McNaughton to give the Broncos a 2-1 lead 13:48 into the game.
It was then the Broncos turn to be down two men as Sam McGinley and Tyler Smithies were called for penalties twelve seconds apart. Isaac Poulter stood on his head, finishing the first period with 18 saves as the Broncos took a 2-1 lead into the intermission.
After killing off three straight penalties to start the third, the Broncos received another five-on-three. After Kaluski thought he had scored with his shot hitting both posts and staying out, he would score just moments later.
Hayden Ostir’s low shot from the bottom of the left circle was kicked away by McNaughton, but the rebound came right to Kaluski who fired home his second five-on-three power-play goal of the game to push the Broncos lead to 3-1 through 40 minutes.
Leading 3-1 through 40, the Broncos were on their heels for most of the third and Calgary took advantage.
First was Cael Zimmerman capitalizing on a turnover behind the Broncos net as he fired a centring pass from Orca Wiesblatt through the blocker arm of Poulter and in with 8:38 left in regulation.
Focht then scored his second of the game as his fluttering shot from the slot beat a screened Poulter to tie the game with 4:39 left in regulation.
Calgary outshot the Broncos 21-2 in the third period.
In overtime the Broncos had an excellent chance to end the game, getting their sixth power play when Wiesblatt was called for tripping, but managed just one shot on the power play as the game went to a shootout.
After Sergei Alkhimov was stopped to begin the shootout, Josh Prokop put the Hitmen ahead. The next two shooters were stopped and the Broncos needed a goal from Kaluski to keep the game going, but McNaughton turned him aside as the Hitmen completed the comeback with the 4-3 win.
The Broncos will look to put the frustrating loss behind them as they head to Saskatoon to play the Blades (20-18-1-2) Friday night.
Announced attendance was 1,771.