The Humboldt Broncos, at one point, the best team in the SJHL, will look to regain some momentum as the holiday break wraps up and the intensity between teams heats up during the second half of the season.
The parity of the league is something to appreciate. Teams made midseason moves to try and bolster their roster, and as the season game totals ticked upwards, the separation between the teams remained tight.
The Broncos will open up the second half of the season in 3rd place in the Ag Risk division with only five points separating the top three teams. A 2-5 record through the month of December allowed teams to leapfrog the Broncos, who come out of the holiday break with a respectable 21-13-2-1 record.
The first contest will be against the Notre Dame Hounds, which is the seventh out of ten meetings on the year between the division rivals. The Broncos have the edge in the season series defeating the Hounds four of the previous six times. The home record will also need to be utilized as the Broncos, who completed the first half with a 10-6 record at home, play 13 of the 21 remaining games inside the EPA.
The post-holiday schedule will hand the Broncos the divisional games needed to try and lift their team back to the top of the Ag Risk Division. 10 of the last 21 games, including the first three to start the second half, will be against division rivals. The Broncos currently have an 8-4 record against divisional foes.
Michael Clarke paves the way for the Broncos with 45 points through his opening 36 games, good for 6th in the SJHL. Brayden Camrud, Owen Guenter and Mitch Zambon have also all reached the 30 point mark, while Josh Patrician's 23 points lead all defenseman. Dane Dow, who played the most minutes of any goalie in the league heading into the holiday break, will look to get back to his winning ways that have been of MVP calibre for the Broncos through the first 37 games.
The new year will see a new coach thrust into action, as former assistant coach Scott Barney will take over the head coaching duties from Nathan Oystrick, who parted ways with the team in late December.
It was a first half the Broncos can be proud of, and one they'll look to continue to improve on as the intensity ramps up leading into the playoffs this spring.
The Broncos will host the Notre Dame Hounds at 7:30 PM inside the Elgar Peterson Arena on Wednesday, January 2nd to kick off the 2019 year in the SJHL.