Simple, effective hockey for the Humboldt Broncos.
5-on-5 dominating, a successful PK, and timely goals were the propellent to a 5-1 road victory over the Melfort Mustangs on Friday night.
Prior to the 5th rendition of the “two-horse-race” the Melfort Mustangs were sitting three points up on the Humboldt Broncos in the SJHL standings, with 4 points available in a weekend set between the league’s two horses. Each team had also won two of the prior four games in the season series.
With Melfort as dominating as they are at home, (17-4-0) and even better with the lead (24-2-0 when scoring the first goal), the first period was key to relishing the upper hand.
Humboldt’s first period was as good as they come.
Humboldt’s Maddox Amaral scored the game's opening goal for his 11th of the season which started a four-goal opening period performance.
Not only did the Broncos score plenty, but they also scored in timely moments, neutralizing and relinquishing any momentum the Mustangs tried to control.
Following their second successful penalty kill, Spencer Bell extended the lead with his 32nd of the year.
Melfort cut the lead in half with their lone goal of the game off the stick of Zac Somers. However, 53 seconds later, a Jacob Strizzi board-side shot deflected off the shinpad of Pat Lanthier (10) to restore the 2-goal lead.
To grasp even more momentum heading into the second, Connor Miller (9) jammed home a loose net-front puck with three seconds left in the period to put the Broncos up 4-1.
The Broncos took two simultaneous penalties to open the second period and gave Melfort a chance to climb back in the game with a full two-minute 5-on-3 powerplay. The PK stood tall holding Melfort to just three shots on net.
Once again, a timely goal when Bell notched his 2nd of the game under two minutes following the successful kill.
The Broncos defensive group were hard-nosed and simple with the puck. Rarely forcing anything up the middle and using the boards to clear pucks and move it through transition.
The powerplay failed to score on their four attempts, while the PK was a huge factor, killing 6/7.
Ben Motew got his third straight start in net and turned aside 32 of 33 for his third straight win and improve his record to 19-7-2-1.
The Humboldt Broncos are now the 3rd place team in the SJHL standings after a weekend sweep, and most recently, a 6-4 victory over the Melfort Mustangs on Saturday.
Another dominating first period for Humboldt allowed the Broncos to control the game for the larger duration and drag Melfort out of their comfort zone having to play from behind for the second straight night.
Also, for the second straight night, in identical fashion, Maddox Amaral (12) scored the game’s opening goal, and Spencer Bell (34) picked up his first of two goals on the night to give the Broncos a 2-0 lead. Bell added his second shortly after on the powerplay to move into a tie for the SJHL lead in goals with 35.
Following 3 goals on 8 shots, Melfort’s James Venne was replaced with Kristian Coombs in the Mustang’s net. Coombs was fantastic, stopping 18 of 19 the rest of the way.
Melfort’s Zac Somers cut the lead to 3-1 with his second goal of the weekend after scoring the lone Melfort goal on Friday.
Humboldt’s dominating play continued in the early portions of the second frame but wouldn’t last forever. Matthew Van Blaricom extended his point streak to 10 games, giving the Broncos a 4-1 lead for the second straight game with his 24th of the year. Afterwards, Melfort found their footing.
At the 10-minute mark of the second period, it seemed as if the two teams switched bodies and Melfort responded with a relentless attack.
Logan Belton added a powerplay goal, and Clay Sleeva scored his 15th just three minutes later to close the score to 4-3 heading into the third.
Although no goals were scored in the first 18 minutes of the final frame, it was one of the most playoff-like and intense periods the EPA has seen this season.
In the final two minutes, with Melfort’s goalie pulled for the first time, Humboldt’s Landon Stromme found the empty net and gave the Broncos breathing room. Melfort didn’t back down. They pulled the goalie a second time. This time to a successful result from Leith Olafson to create a 5-4 Broncos’ lead. Finally, with Coombs out of the net for a third consecutive time, it was Stromme again who put the final nail in the coffin and helped the Broncos secure a 6-4 victory.
Humboldt’s Ben Motew won his 4th straight game in net and improved his record to 20-7-2-1.
The Broncos have won 4 games in a row, now sitting in third place with 11 games remaining, 8 of which are at home.
Next up they will travel on the road to take on the Notre Dame Hounds on Thursday, February 15th.