Written by: Rory McGouran
Friday night’s matchup in Nipawin was certainly their toughest test of the season, but the Humboldt Broncos found a way to secure a passing grade and remained undefeated with a 3-2 victory over the Hawks.
In the first installment of the playoff rematch from their Round-1 opponent, who the Broncos dispatched of last spring, everyone knew the Hawks would be looking for redemption. To make matters even more difficult, the Broncos dressed 13 players that have never played a Jr. A game in the tight and hostile confines of the Centennial arena, while also missing three defensemen to injury, and the team’s top goal scorer, still, they found a way.
For the 6th straight game, the Broncos scored the game’s opening goal.
Spencer Bell delivered a nice chip off the neutral zone glass that sent Ty McKay into the attacking end. McKay then fired a cross crease pass to Spencer Hughes who scored his first career goal as a Bronco for a 1-0 lead. The assist by McKay was also his first career Bronco’ point.
The Hawks tied the game in the second frame off the stick of Evan Forrest for his team leading 4th goal, but once again momentum was quickly taken back by the Broncos.
Midway through the second, the Broncos were put on a 5-on-3 powerplay where Ben Costantino sent a cannon of a slapshot, beating Damon Cunningham and knocking the water bottle off the net in the process to regain a one-goal lead. This was Costantino’s third goal in his last two games.
The alternating of goals continued in the third period.
The Hawks, who wouldn’t back down, tied the game at two when their captain, Maguire Ratzlaff’s one-timer hit a Bronco shinpad and barely snuck passed the goal line of Ben Motew’s net.
Pat Lanthier, whose been one of the most consistent Broncos all season, but has yet to score, (6 assists in 5 games) proved to be the hero as he recovered a loose puck in the Hawks’ end and slid home a backhand through a screen for the game-winning goal.
They Hawks pulled the goalie with 2:30 left in the game and had the Broncos pinned in their own zone with relentless puck-pursuit and pressure, firing shot after shot towards the net. However, Ben Motew was brilliant, helping the Broncos lock down the victory. Overall Motew turned aside 28 of 30 for his 5th straight win of the season.
The Broncos powerplay went 1/4 while their PK was 4/5.
The Hawks will now visit the Broncos on Saturday where once again Humboldt will look to stay undefeated.