One ugly stretch of hockey was enough to derail an improved effort from the Swift Current Broncos in Calgary today.
After a close first period, the Hitmen struck four times in the first 7:26 of the second period to take complete control of the game and cruise to a 9-3 win in the special daytime game in front of thousands of school kids at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It was a similar result to their 11-1 blowout loss in Edmonton the day before.
"Five minutes to start the second period whether we were on our heels whatever we were that was the hockey game," said Broncos Coach/Director of Hockey Operations Dean Brockman. "We were much better today. We competed harder and we did a lot more good things, but when you don't play that five minutes it's tough to win a game."
Carson Focht scored four times and former Bronco Kaden Elder had his first career hat trick for Calgary in the win. The Broncos felt
"We have to be engaged in every moment," Brockman said. "The game is made up a lot of moments and when we have that lapse... good teams find a way to beat you every time."
Broncos netminder Isaac Poulter has hit the first extended rough stretch of his impressive young career as he has allowed 23 goals in his last three starts. The team hasn't played well in front of Poulter and those games have taken a bite out of his numbers, but they haven't shaken his coach's confidence in him.
"He's been fantastic all year and the last three games are just stumbling blocks for a bright young goalie," Brockman noted. "At the time out in the third period I said really just worry about your next save. I don't care really care about the previous ones or that some got away on ya . Just make the next save and whatever beats you, beats you. He's a mentally tough kid and he is going to find a way to rebound. It's highs and lows of the game how you manage them and deal with them as a player."
Carter Chorney was a bright spot offensively for the Broncos scoring their first goal on a nice shot from right face-off dot and setting up two others. It was the first multi-point game of his WHL career and Chorneyf now has six points in his last seven games after an extended slump.
"There's that glimpse of it again," Brockman said. "It's finding consistency with that glimpse of being a really good player. I thought he was just more engaged. He saw the ice a little bit better. He was moving his feet I think that was the biggest difference. Good for him. It was nice to see him get a three point game."
Connor Horning scored and had an assist for the Broncos in the first period. He now has 13 points in his last 15 games and continues to produce at the best clip of his young career.
Swift Current also got a third period goal from Matthew Culling as he snapped a twenty game drought. Seven of Culling's nine goals were scored over a nine game stretch in the middle of the season.
Despite the lopsided score, the Broncos did show some edge to their game as it went along including a scrap between Owen Blocker and Jackson van de Leest.
"In the latter half of the second and in the third we showed some anger for what was happening," Brockman said. "We won battles instead of kept losing them. That's an important step... it's up to each individual. I'm glad that guys got angry and that guys care enough to do that. It's never easy to lose. I thought we were way better than we were yesterday and hopefully we are better again on Friday."
Former Swift Current draft pick Josh Prokop had four assists for the Hitmen playing on a line with Elder and Focht. Prokop was part of the deal for Matteo Gennaro and Beck Malenstyn last season and joined Calgary despite a previous commitment to play NCAA hockey. Riley Stotts, also acquired by Calgary in that deal, added two assists.
The Broncos went 0 for 3 on their power play while having some good looks. Calgary was 2 for 5 on theirs as Swift Current's penalty kill has now allowed 11 goals in their last four games.
Ben King again took warmup for Swift Current and could be ready to play by the weekend.
The game was a part of an anti-bullying campaign on pink shirt day in Calgary with over 14,000 school kids in attendance. That's something the Broncos were proud to be a part of.
"The magnitude is 11.8 on the Richter scale," Brockman noted before the game. "I talk about it lots within the school systems. I have a young son myself and with the way things are these days it's a bigger and stronger message. We need to protect the innocent. For us as coaches we relay that message on a daily basis. It's a great cause and we're excited to be a part of it."
Next action for the Broncos is Friday in Cranbrook against a Kootenay Ice team facing similar struggles. Swift Current has lost twelve straight games, while Kootenay is on a nine game skid. Friday's game will be the final visit by the Broncos to Cranbrook before the Ice move to Winnipeg next season.
Quick video recap from Calgary where the Hitmen top the Broncos 9-3. Carter Chorney with a goal and two assists today for a strong game despite the result. pic.twitter.com/xxN3LIf2wD— Shawn Mullin (@shawnmullin) February 27, 2019