There was certainly no holiday hangover for Humboldt.
The Broncos were tasked with a healthy dose of travel in the new year with back-to-back road games to open the 2024 stretch to the playoffs.
Starting with Saskatchewan’s east in the Parkland region on Friday night, the Broncos took care of business, taming the Yorkton Terriers in a 3-1 victory. The following night they hopped back on the bus to the West Central Events Centre defeating their division rival, the Kindersley Klippers, 6-4.
Firmly entrenched among the top 4 teams, who have all separated from the rest of the SJHL standings, the Humboldt Broncos picked up right where they left off.
Starting off in the Win Column
The 2024 opener in Yorkton, was a closely fought contest. The Broncos ran into some penalty trouble, but strong special teams and timely goals were the difference maker.
Cage Newans, the Broncos’ captain, opened the scoring with his 14th of the season. Matthew Van Blaricom, fresh off his gold medal win at the World Jr. A Challenge with Team Canada West, provided the game winner.
With the trade deadline scheduled for January 10th, the Broncos added talented forward, Boris Kofman to their roster in a trade with the OJHL’s Toronto Jr. Canadians. Kofman was quick to add his name to the scoresheet in his very first game, scoring an empty net goal with one second left.
The Broncos were shorthanded 7 times throughout the 60 minutes, successfully killing 6 of those minor penalties. Meanwhile, going 2/3 on the powerplay.
Ben Motew picked up his 14th victory, improving his record to 14-4-2-1, stopping 24 of 25.
The Clash with Kindersley
In the first divisional game of 2024, much more offence was present as Humboldt looked for their second road win in back-to back-nights.
The first period appeared as if Humboldt was poised to run away with a convincing victory. After giving up the game’s opening goal on the powerplay, the Broncos rattled off 4 straight of their own and took a 4-1 lead into the second frame. Connor Miller (6), Pat Lanthier (7), Landon Stromme (4), and Van Blaricom (19) provided the offensive outburst.
Give credit to the Klippers, who without their head coach due to the birth of his first daughter, held the Broncos in check, kept pounding away, and used the next 35 minutes to score three unanswered goals to tie the game at 4-4.
The Broncos fell short against the Klippers the last time they were in the West Central Events Centre and with 5 minutes remaining, the momentum was firmly on Kindersley’s side.
However, Van Blaricom, who was playing with an unshakeable swagger as if the gold medal was still dangling from his neck, fired home the game winning goal for the second straight game, as well as the empty netter for his second hat-trick of the season.
Once again, the Broncos were not on the right side of the calls and will look to shore up their discipline heading into a busy week to follow. Their powerplay was 0/2, and PK stopped 4/6.
Aiden Fisher was called upon in net and was tasked with a busy night, stopping 39 of 43 and improving his record to 8-3-0-0.
Overall, the Broncos sit in 4th place in the SJHL standings with a 22-7-2-1
The Broncos have now won three straight games and have three more coming up the following week. starting with their first home game of 2024 on Tuesday, January 9th, welcoming back the Yorkton Terriers.