The Swift Current Broncos (1-1-0-0) rallied from a 2-1 deficit after two periods to take down the Calgary Hitmen (1-0-0-1) 3-2 in a shootout Saturday night.
The game got off to a tough start for the Broncos as the Hitmen dumped the puck in from centre ice and went on the forecheck. Joey Rocha, making his WHL debut, came out of the net to play the puck behind the net, and was caught by two Calgary forecheckers.
The Hitmen were able to work the puck to the crease and Oliver Tulk tapped it into the open net, putting Calgary ahead 1-0 just 20 seconds after puck drop.
The Broncos outshot the Hitmen 7-5 in the first period but trailed 1-0 heading into the intermission.
Early in the second period the Broncos tied the game at one. After a turnover by Calgary in their own zone, Mathew Ward threw the puck across the slot to Clarke Caswell who fired it toward the net. Brayden Peters made the glove save, but the puck popped up into the air and into the net as Caswell picked up his first career WHL goal.
The Broncos gained momentum from the goal and started racking up shots on net, but couldn’t use it to their advantage as the game remained 1-1.
Calgary regained their lead in the second half of the period off the rush. Chase Valiant dropped the puck off for Bilaal Noori and he fired a shot through the five hole of Rocha to restore the Hitmen’s lead.
Swift Current nearly pulled even at the end of the period as Caswell was denied on the doorstep just before the buzzer, and the Broncos went into the locker room down 2-1.
The shots were heavily tilted in the Broncos favour in the third period at 14-4, and it resulted in them tying the game. On a power play off a puck over glass penalty, Sam McGinley sent the puck to the net from the right point.
It was blocked in front of the net, but Caswell was able to slide it away from the pile and over to Braeden Lewis who quickly fired it into the open net, tying the game at two with 6:57 remaining.
The game stayed tied into the final minutes of regulation, and Rocha made his finest save of the night by denying Maxim Muranov on a breakaway with under three minutes to play, getting the game to overtime.
Calgary outshot the Broncos 5-2 in overtime, with the majority of those shots coming in the final minute during a late barrage, but Rocha stood his ground as the game went to a shootout.
After the first three shooters were denied, Luke Mistelbacher beat Peters over the glove to put the Broncos ahead, and Rocha got a piece of Oliver Tulk’s shot to secure the victory for the Broncos. It was also Rocha’s first career victory.
The Broncos are now off until next Friday when they welcome the Winnipeg ICE to the InnovationPlex.