The Swift Current Broncos are making comebacks look almost old hat.
Down 4-1 in the second period, Calvin Spencer scored twice including the game winner as Swift Current stormed back to beat a very good Lethbridge Hurricanes team 5-4 tonight.
“It was a really good win for the boys coming back like that and showing what kind of team we are,” Spencer said. “We never get our heads down. We have good leaders in the room. We just keep on going and never give up.”
The Broncos found themselves in that big hole midway through the second and a time out sparked them immediately. They scored twenty seconds later and completely turned the game around.
What the coaches said to spark that switch might not be printable.
“I don't think the people would appreciate some of the stuff,” Heward joked. “You might have to bleep out a few things. The biggest message was that we were just skating around and weren't thinking. You've got to be able to play the game at a high pace and think at the same time. We were just kind of skating around lost. We did it to them when we started to skate and put them in a little bit of chaos.”
Despite getting down 4-1 the Broncos stuck with Travis Child in goal and he made some big stops to ensure the Hurricanes couldn't stall Swift Current's comeback effort.
“We never felt that any of those goals were his fault,” Heward said. “We were happy with how he was playing. Sometimes a goaltender change you don't get to talk to the guys. Child made two really big saves in the third period at the end. I'm really happy for him because sometimes you give up that fourth one and you can go into a shell.”
For Spencer it was a matter of getting back to their systems and not overthinking it.
“We're not over complicating our game,” Spencer noted. “Just trying to keep it simple. Be smart and make plays.”
Tyler Steenbergen, Max Lajoie and Colby Sissons also scored for Swift Current.
Broncos defenceman Matthew Stanley left the game after a fight with former Swift Current minor hockey product Tanner Nagel in the first period. Thanks to previous injuries to Dom Schmiemann and Artyom Minulin the Broncos were down to four healthy defenceman.
“Fortunately we've got some guys that are pretty gifted back there offensively,” Heward said. “It makes a big difference when you've got guys who can skate and think the game. For me sometimes it was better to shorten the bench because you don't have time to think. It could have really gone bad for us. I'm happy for the D because when they go down to four it's never easy.”
Lajoie, Sissons, Kade Jensen and Sahvan Khaira all had points in the come from behind effort while eating up huge minutes defending a deep offensive attack. Swift Current's mobile blue line has been a big factor all year in their ability to push back.
“I think a lot,” Lajoie said. “Compared to last year our guys have more experience now. They're more confident in what they're doing. It's great they can contribute offensively which helps a lot and they're really good in the D zone.”
Spencer book-ended the game with both the first goal and the winner. They were his first goals since November 12th despite a number of very good chances and a couple of injuries over that span.
“It feels really good to get that off my back,” Spencer said. “Hopefully can keep on going. Keep my game simple and playing strong throughout the weekend.”
Swift Current went 2 for 6 on their power play, but again had some struggles on the penalty kill as Lethbridge went 2 for 3 on their man advantage.
“Our penalty kill wasn't very good,” Heward said. “So we have to revisit that. Tonight it was lacking clears. We finally did a couple good things and now we couldn't clear the puck. We've got to find a way to put it all together.”
The Broncos remain tied with Moose Jaw for second place in the WHL East Division and the third best point total in the Eastern Conference. They've won seven out of their last eight games. Now the focus is on starting better.
“We get a little tight,” Heward said. “We don't want to make mistakes. Go out and play. Try to make your plays just be sure you're being responsible. The comebacks are always great but we just need to realize we need to play less scared at the start of games to make sure we get off to good starts.”
The win over Lethbridge was the first of a four game home stand that the Broncos really want to make count.
“It's huge,” Spencer said. “You need as many points at home as you can and make your building a hard building to play in for other teams.”
Swift Current hosts Brandon on Friday, Prince Albert on Saturday and Kootenay next Wednesday.
Broncos coach Manny Viveiros missed the game on a scouting trip. Viveiros is also the team's Director of Player Personnel and is gearing up for his first trade deadline in that role on January 10th.