Friday, January 12
In the third meeting of the season between the SJHL’s two horses, the Humboldt Broncos were unable to overcome the Melfort Mustangs, losing 5-2 on Friday night.
With a depleted lineup, the Broncos were missing three of their regular defensemen, along with their leading goal-scorer. Those lineup omissions thrusted two new defensemen into action against the league’s hottest team. Simon Garchinski, a 2007 call-up playing his first game of the year, and Oakley McIlwain, a trade deadline acquisition who has yet to have a practice with the Broncos, both were needed in the starting lineup. The Broncos d-core fell even more thin when Daylan Weigel got ejected at the end of the first period.
Outside of the lineup adversity, the Broncos were outmatched by the Mustangs in the first period. Bo Eisnor scored 3 minutes into the game and Clay Sleeva, who finished the night with a hat-trick, built a 2-0 lead heading into the second.
Early in the middle frame, Sleeva added his second goal of the game presenting a daunting 3-0 hole for the Broncos.
Humboldt’s best stretch of hockey came in the second half of the period. Spencer Bell finally got the Broncos on the board with his 22nd of the year, and just 1:07 later, Brayden Skogstad scored a shorthanded goal to cut the lead to 3-2. This was the 9th SH goal the Broncos have scored this season and just the 2nd the Mustangs have given up.
With the Broncos pressing for the equalizer, the wind was taken out of their sails as Nolan Patterson beat Broncos’ netminder, Ben Motew with just 36 second left in the period, regaining a two-goal lead heading into the third.
In the third period, Sleeva put the game to bed, completing his hattrick with an empty net marker.
The Broncos and Mustangs were both 0/4 on their powerplays.
Saturday, January 13
The Humboldt Broncos may have gone from their worst game of the season to their best in 24 hours.
After a rather lackluster performance in Melfort on Friday, losing 5-2, the Broncos came out and showcased what they are capable of through a 60-min clinic of skating, physicality, and teamwork, shutting out the Mustangs 4-0.
Marik Mamic eclipsed the double-digit plateau with his 10th goal of the season, set up from a beautiful rush from Landon Stromme who perfectly placed his perimeter shot off the far pad of netminder James Venne. The rebound ejected right into the slot where Mamic banged it home.
The Broncos doubled their lead early in the second period. Another strong opening shift resulted in a net mouth scramble where Spencer Bell jammed in his team-leading 23rd goal of the year just 28 seconds into the frame.
The relentless style of play continued to impress the fans who braved the -50-degree weather outside to cheer on their hometown horses.
Maddox Amaral was hauled down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. He made no mistake beating Venne on the low blocker for his 9th, a 3-0 lead, and the Broncos first penalty shot goal of the season.
Melfort was unable to find any push back in the third period. The Broncos held their out-of-division rival to just 6 shots in the final frame and Pat Lanthier added the final dagger redirecting a net front pass from Jacob Strizzi for a 4-0 lead. It was Lanthier’s 8th goal of the year and Strizzi’s first career point as a Bronco.
Aidan Fischer was brilliant when he had to be, as was the Broncos’ penalty kill. Fischer stopped all 30 shots faced for his 9th win and 2nd shutout, moving him into a four-way tie for the lead in shutouts in the SJHL. The penalty kill neutralized all 6 of the Mustangs’ powerplays on Saturday, and all 10 between the two games this weekend.
The victory gives the Broncos 51 points in the season, who are currently 2 points back of the Battlefords North Stars and Melfort Mustangs for 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.
Humboldt will head back on the road for two games starting with Tuesday, Jan 16th in Melville.