The Humboldt Broncos took a step forward in the SJHL league standings with their away win over the Battlefords North Stars on Friday night. Then, they slid back from their third place standings with a home ice loss the next night. It’s a race to the finish line for teams who have locked up their playoff spots making the first-round picture clearer in the fast approaching post-season. Here’s the breakdown of the two games.  

Friday, March 8 

With the Nutrien Division title still up for grabs, the Broncos displayed a strong 52 minutes, building a large enough lead to stave off a thrilling comeback effort from the North Stars. 

Spencer Bell scored his league leading 42nd goal of the season to open the scoring 1-0. This was Bell’s 9th time this season he’s scored the game’s opening goal. 

Battlefords tied the game in the second period with their captain, Tanner Gold, snapping a right wing shot, beating the blocker of Ben Motew for his 11th of the year. 

The Broncos deployed impressive response shifts following the game tying goal that was filled with offensive pressure over the next four minutes. 

Jacob Strizzi regained the Broncos’ lead off a net front rebound from his own original shot that hit the post. Then just 1:40 later, Landon Stromme created a rebound off the far pad of North Stars’ Netminder Matthew MacArthur for Brayden Skogstad to bang home for his 10th of the year. 

In the beginning of the third period, Humboldt kept rolling. 

Cage Newans set a new personal career-high for goals in a season with his 21st of the season and a 4-1 lead. 

The offense continued to shine, as on the Broncos 3rd powerplay of the game, Maddox Amaral showed exceptional vison finding Strizzi wide open at the side of the net for his second of the game and a 5-1 lead. 

With the game looking like it was a wrap, the Battlefords Norths Stars showed why they are never to let off the hook, as the highest-scoring third period team made for a thrilling comeback effort. 

Kian Bell, the SJHL’s leading point getter was given too much space in front of the net and cut the lead to 5-2. 

Humboldt took penalty shortly after and with the Battlefords net empty to create a 6-4 attack, Ben Portner found the back of the net for a 5-3 score. 

Two minutes later, the North Stars pulled their goalie again, and Josh Medernach bounced a puck through a maze of bodies off the post and in, to lift the North Stars within one goal. 

The Broncos were in clear desperation mode. However, an alert and smart play by Matthew Van Blaricom carried the puck out of the zone. He didn’t rush to shoot for the back of the net, instead set up Marik Mamic who had a much clearer lane, resulting in his 12th of the year and a 6-4 victory. 

Ben Motew picked up his third straight win and 24th of the season stopping 27 of 31. 

Both teams powerplays were 1/3 on the night. 

Saturday, March 9 

The Humboldt Broncos still control their own destiny to finish atop the Nutrien Division, however, they made it a slightly harder journey after a 7-4 defeat to the Battlefords North Stars on Saturday night. 

This marked the 6th and final game of the season series between the two division rivals, and with the Broncos taking a 6-4 victory on Friday, a win would have put them one point away from a division title. 

Instead, the first period was slanted in the North Stars favour thanks to three straight Battleford’s powerplays, resulting in two goals. 

The Broncos may not have agreed with the calls, but it was clear they let the frustration get to them. This being a lesson the SJHL’s second youngest team will need to learn from as they embark into the final three games of the regular season and into the playoffs. 

This was just the sixth time this season the Broncos have trailed after the first period in 53 games. 

The North Stars scored their only 5-on-5 goal of the game to extend the lead to 3-0 as Easton Rask notched his first of the season. 

Kian Bell 4-on-4, and Brad Blake on the powerplay resulted in two more goals, creating a daunting 5-0 lead for the North Stars, their largest of any moment in the entire season series. 

Spencer Bell scored his league leading 43rd tipping in a point shot in the second, and Connor Thue hammered a one-timer 17 seconds into the third period to give the Broncos life. 

However, a shorthanded goal by Kian Bell took away any wind in the Broncos sails. 

Cage Newans added back-to-back goals to bring the Broncos once again within two goals. However, the North Stars found the empty net and sealed a 7-4 victory. 

A pair of fights occurred in the final minute with Marik Mamic, in his first SJHL fight, landing a beautiful right hand knocking down North Star’s Riley Girod. Tristan Serrao also tangled with Colton Getzlaff. 

The North Stars leapfrogged the Broncos back into third place. 

The Broncos still control their own destiny with three games remaining. If they win all three, they will end up with 78 points. The most the North Stars can end up with is 77. 

The Broncos will look to get back in the win column when they travel to Wilcox to wrap up their season series with the Notre Dame Hounds. 

- with notes from Discover Humboldt Staff