The Saskatoon Blades outlasted a game Swift Current Broncos club for a 4-1 win to wrap up a special week in Swift Current.
The game was a final activity as part of busy week surrounding Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada.
For the Broncos it was a determined effort against a rested Blades club after arriving home late from a game in Brandon on Friday.
"I thought we showed a lot of resiliency," said Broncos assistant coach Scott Dutertre. "By the time we got home last night it was 4am so we had 13 hours between getting off the bus and playing again... we knew we were going to have to dig deep. The outcome isn't what we wanted but the effort was there. We were a little flat at the start of the second, but we had a little bit of a spark there and managed to build on each shift."
Saskatoon opened the scoring midway through the second period on Gary Haden's 26th of the season. The Blades had a strong start to the second period and that goal seemed to wake Swift Current up. Tyler Lees tied the game up less than a minute later converting the rebound of an Ian Briscoe shot for his first with the Broncos.
"I was just coming up the ice with Briscoe on a two on two," Lees said. "I slid it over to him and went hard to the net. A couple bounces around the net and slid to my feet so it was a pretty lucky goal but nice to get the first one out of the way."
The Blades took the lead back midway through the third period on a Riley McKay wrap-around goal. Swift Current pushed back strong down the stretch and came close to the tying goal. The rebound of a Tyler Smithies shot hopped over Ethan O'Rourke's stick and turned quickly into a Max Gerlach breakaway for a 3-1 Blades lead.
Saskatoon added an empty-net goal to round out the scoring.
Isaac Poulter made 34 saves for the Broncos in a losing cause in what was another strong goaltender performance for the rebuilding team.
"Poulter did a fantastic job for us tonight," Dutertre said. "A lot of the pucks that got on net were a lot of perimeter stuff. We take away the middle of the ice and force them to shoot from the outside. He did a good job smothering rebounds. We probably should have pulled the trigger more on our entries."
The loss was Swift Current's fifth in a row. Despite a rebuilding season with only ten wins, the coaching staff was pleased with how they battled in front of a sold out Hockey Day in Canada crowd.
"It's a tough season that way that we don't have the outcome that we want," Dutertre said. "But we're in game 51 and we're still getting solid effort from our kids and that's all we can ask. For the people that were here we gave them an entertaining product and worked all the way to the end. When we're celebrating Broncos past teams that exemplifies what we're doing. We've got to be hard working. There's a legacy here."
Swift Current lost defenceman Matthew Stanley in the first period after a fight with McKay. Saskatoon forward Kirby Dach didn't return to the game after being hit in the throat with a puck late in the second period.
Hockey legend Don Cherry dropped the puck in a ceremonial face-off before the game that included Tim Tisdale, Sheldon Kennedy, Trevor Kruger and Kimbi Daniels of the 1989 Swift Current Broncos.
Swift Current hosts Prince Albert on Wednesday and Lethbridge on Friday.