A doubling up at the hands of the Lethbridge Hurricanes Saturday night in southern Alberta spelled a winless two-game road weekend for the Swift Current Broncos.
Swift Current came into the Enmax Centre looking to bounce back from a tough loss to the Kootenay ICE Friday, but Lethbridge handed them a 4-2 loss.
“I thought we came out of the gate not too badly, we had some decent energy but, as it went along, there were some breakdowns there and we didn’t play with the same urgency as we did last night,” said Broncos assistant coach Scott Dutertre. “I thought we came out from the start okay, but our pace wasn’t where it should have been.”
That decent start saw both the Broncos and Hurricanes held scoreless through the first seven minutes of the game, before a point-shot from Danila Palivko on a Broncos power play put the Hurricanes up 7:03 in.
Nearly another seven minutes later, the Broncos responded.
Roope Pynnonen stepped in from the left point, and before he could fire a shot from the left circle, Hurricane defender Koletrane Wilson’s stick slid out of his hand and impeded Pynnonen.
That forced a penalty-shot, with Ethan Regnier stepping up. The alternate captain deked left, went right, and punched it five-hole between the pads of Carl Tetachuk to make it 1-1.
Looking like Swift Current was set to tighten their grip on the shifting momentum, it was the Hurricanes who surged forward after the Regnier goal.
Two minutes later, Lethbridge captain Jordy Bellerive ripped a wrister up over the glove of Riley Lamb, going post, crossbar, and in for a 2-1 Hurricanes lead.
Then with 33 seconds remaining in the first, Lethbridge went up 3-1 on a similar wrister, this time off the stick of Noah Boyko on the man-advantage.
After the early barrage that saw the Broncos out-shot 15-7 in the opening period, Lamb was able to get into a bit more of a zone, locking down the bulk of Lethbridge’s chances in the final 40.
“Riley did a good job of coming back – he showed some resiliency, but that’s the expectation of a 20-year-old too,” noted Dutertre. “He did a good job for us. But, going back to the warmup, he didn’t see a lot of good pucks. That pregame preparation makes a big difference.”
Lethbridge’s last goal came with under six minutes to go in the second period. Calen Addison used a slick spin-o-rama at the blue-line to slip around Ian Briscoe and fire a partially-screened wrister under Lamb’s glove for the 4-1 lead.
The Broncos did answer on the power play a shade over two minutes after that, as Connor Horning bided time on the point, before blasting his fifth goal of the season.
However, Swift Current wasn’t able to secure solid possession time and bulk up their shot total in hopes of trimming their two-goal deficit – though a couple ludicrous saves by Tetachuk robbed a couple chances throughout the game.
Swift Current ended the game getting out-shot 45-17, including a 17-5 margin in the third period.
Lamb finished with 41 saves, with Tetachuk making 15 opposite of the overager.
Though Lethbridge is a team with a pile of highly-skilled players, some of the Broncos’ post-game disappoint laid in the fact that they weren’t caught off guard by the game plan.
“We talked about awareness in the dressing room before the game. We talked about just different things they do on draws, and their forecheck. There were no surprises, we just didn’t execute,” said Dutertre.
Including the Kootenay loss and a 6-2 loss to Calgary at home this past Wednesday, the Broncos are in the midst of a brief three-game slide.
“I know it’s three (games) in four nights, but you have to find ways to win in this league, and you have to find ways to take care of yourself and be prepared. Watching even warmup (tonight), I don’t think we were that well-prepared to start.”
Up next for the Broncos, a third-consecutive road game on Friday, when they head east to Brandon.
The week leading up to it, the Broncos will get a much-needed 24 hours of rest, before getting back to their regular routine.
“Well we have a little bit of the flu bug, so we just need guys to rest tomorrow (Sunday), tomorrow’s a rest day. Monday we’ll just do some skill development stuff, and then Tuesday back to the grindstone,” said Dutertre.
Overcoming the frustration that can come with a rebuilding season is certainly a key this young Broncos team will need to be able to tackle regularly.
“These kids are trying to get to that next level and be professionals – as a professional, you have to be able to turn the switch off and turn it back on again and be ready to go. For our guys, it’s no different. It sucks right now, but you have to be able to turn that switch off, get re-energized, and be ready to go again on Monday.”
The Broncos and Wheat Kings will face off February 8 in Brandon.