It wasn't an ending many would have predicted tonight.
Fresh off trades sending away popular veterans Max Patterson and Noah King to bolster a rebuilding process, an emotional Swift Current Broncos roster rallied together to take down the giant of the Canadian Hockey League this season.
Joel Hofer made 52 saves, while Prince Albert native Ethan Regnier both tied the game in regulation and won it in the shootout as the Broncos ended a 19 game Raiders winning streak.
"A lot of mixed emotions," Hofer said. "Obviously I was happy to get the win, but with all the trades everyone is still kind of recovering in a sense. Those guys were big in our locker room for our team... there was a lot of motivation for us in that game."
The 3-2 Broncos victory resulted in only the second loss Prince Albert has sustained all season.
"We came out hard," said Broncos assistant coach Brandin Cote. "We had a great performance from our goaltender and some other guys stepped up in moments that we needed it. Our power play scored a goal which was nice, our penalty kill was solid... it was a great win."
For Regnier it was a special victory as he scored the tying goal and the shootout winner against his home town team. The equalizer came late in the third on a quick snap shot from his off wing.
"It was a good game for me," Regnier noted. "The bounce went in... it went off a knee pad and in the net. Shootout I was just lucky."
Prince Albert has dominated the WHL so far this season going 26-1-0-0 coming into game action tonight and scoring 86 goals more than they had given up. The Broncos knew it was going to be a tall task and with a former Raiders assistant coach on their bench knew Prince Albert was going to bring some serious challenges.
"I'm fortunate because I coached in PA for a year so I had an idea what was going on," Cote said. "We had an idea going in kind of their tendancies and things like that and really tried to take away their speed in the neutral zone. Obviously it's tough to do that against a team with so much depth and skill. We kept them to the outside for the most part in our end. They did sustain some zone time, but whenever we needed a big save Hofer was there."
It was another impressive night from Hofer who has faced an average of 37.5 shots per game and had a 53 save shootout victory in Brandon earlier this season. The St. Louis Blues prospect still credited a young defensive group for letting him see the puck.
"The guys were big in blocking shots," Hofer said. "Our special teams were really good and I've got to give credit to the guys for putting in a full (65) minutes and battling out with a good team."
Already without Noah King who was traded to Spokane earlier today, the Broncos lost veteran defenceman Matthew Stanley to injury early in the first period when he collided with Regnier. They were left with five young defenceman including three rookies to match up against the league's most potent attack.
It was a gritty effort attempting to keep a quick attack contained to the outside despite all their time of possession.
"PA is a good team," Regnier said. "Best team in the country. We came out tonight played good. Hofer stopped the biscuits for us. It was good. Lots of smiles out there."
The emotion of the night wasn't lost on a coaching staff that knew what their team was battling through.
"We just want to get better every day," Cote noted. "That's our motto. We could have laid down today. We traded two of our better players away this week. There was a lot of excuses that we could have had to not perform tonight, but we're proud of the guys for just putting in the effort. When you do that a lot of time you get rewarded for that."
Swift Current opened the scoring on an early power play when Regnier, Andrew Fyten and Tanner Nagel combined on an excellent passing play for Nagel's 4th goal of the season. The goal was one of only 11 the Raiders have given up on their penalty kill all season.
Prince Albert tied it back up when the WHL's leading scorer Brett Leason completed a give-and-go with Parker Kelly by snapping home his 28th goal fo the season.
Following a closely contested first period, the Raiders started to take ownership of the puck in the second and third periods. They weren't able to break through for a go-ahead-goal until midway through the third when Brayden Pachal knocked in the rebound of a Spencer Moe shot.
Regnier answered to tie the game up with 1:44 to go in regulation.
Both teams had good chances in overtime as Leason hit the post and Nagel just sent a shot wide after a terrific toe drag move to get loose. Regnier then scored the only goal of the shootout to secure the victory.
It was Prince Albert's first shootout appearance this season and only the second time they've gone to overtime at all.
The Broncos move to 5-21-1-1 on the season. They're 4-7-1-1 in their last 13 games after starting the season with only a win in their first 14 games.
Swift Current is off to Calgary and Red Deer this weekend where newly acquired forward Carter Chorney is expected to make his Broncos debut. They'll face the Raiders again in a home-and-home on December 14th and 15th before the holiday break.