The Swift Current Broncos come back from the Christmas break with a couple of big tests against a division rival.
Swift Current hosts Moose Jaw tonight in the first of a home-and-home with the Warriors.
Moose Jaw sits two points ahead of the Broncos for second place in the WHL East Division. They sit third and forth respectively in the Eastern Conference.
“You're going to see two games that are for second place in the standings,” said Broncos associate coach Ryan Smith. “You're seeing two teams that are playing pretty good hockey right now.”
The two clubs have only played once so far this season in a game that Moose Jaw won 3-2 in Swift Current. They will play five more times before the end of the season and if the season ended today would face one another in the first round of the playoffs.
“You peg those games on the calendar,” Smith said. “Both teams are going to have the same break so nobody has an advantage. It will be important for us to win that first home game. If we can get back on track, keep this thing going by winning at home and then go into Moose Jaw feeling good about ourselves.”
The Broncos won three straight games going into the holiday break and have won each of their games since the returns of Glenn Gawdin and Cole Johnson from injury.
Swift Current sits 18-10-3-4 after 35 games.
They are on pace for 37 wins and 88 points throughout the whole season. That would be a 30 point improvement on last season and their best result since 2007-08.
Moose Jaw is 20-8-4-1 and coming off a split of a home-and-home against Regina.
“The teams that can turn that page as quick as possible and come out of the gate firing (in the second half) is going to be the team that is the most successful,” Warriors assistant coach Mark O’Leary told DiscoverMooseJaw.com. “Swift Current is in the same boat, but we’re ready to go after a good practice.”
Moose Jaw recognizes the importance of the games against Swift Current. Neither team has seen their opponent's best roster yet.
“We’ve watched the standings pretty close, they’re right on our heels for most of the year,” said O’Leary. “Last time we played them, we didn’t have Brett Howden and didn’t have a complete lineup, they’ve made some changes as well with adding Ryan Graham up front, so it will be an interesting match-up and two points that we need to have.”
You can hear tonight's game on The Eagle 94.1 FM with Robertson Family Group Swift Current Broncos Hockey at 6:30pm. Puck drop is just after 7:00pm at the Credit Union iPlex.
With files from Marc Smith at DiscoverMooseJaw.com