Adversity, perseverance, and multiple completed comebacks, game four was a rollercoaster ride that encompassed the emotional capabilities of a playoff hockey game.
The Humboldt Broncos found themselves faced with adversity in their opening round series with the La Ronge Ice Wolves earlier than some would expect. La Ronge took both games two and three to build a 2-1 series lead and looked to hem the Broncos into a do-or-die situation in game four on Wednesday.
In the opening 12 minutes, it appeared as if they would succeed.
The Ice Wolves came flying out of the gates. Goals from Riley Morgan (1) and Ethan Strick (3) drove the Broncos into a 2-0 hole just 6 minutes into the game. The depth of that hole continued to grow deeper when defenseman, Mkyllan Couture made it 3-0 on the powerplay for his 3rd of the postseason.
This is where the first act of perseverance clicked for Humboldt.
Humboldt native, Noah Barlage scored his first career playoff goal with a shot from the point that beat Ice Wolves’ goaltender, Xavier Cannon to make it 3-1.
Late period goals are often the toughest to give up, handing momentum to oppositions eagerly looking to rally energy levels back in the dressing room. The Broncos were able to impose this and flatten the emotions of the Ice Wolves late in all three periods.
Alex Morozoff, who had the best game of his post season debut with the Broncos, scored to cut the lead to 3-2 with just 17 seconds left in the opening period and the Broncos took momentum into the intermission.
The rallying effort was briefly successful.
Just 3:24 into the second period Ethan Zielke cleaned up a rebound for his first career postseason goal, knocking home a loose puck created on a beautiful driving effort by Sam Marburg getting to the front of the net.
First comeback completed. However, shortly lived.
La Ronge has earned the respect of the SJHL throughout the second half of the season, and that work ethic paid off again. Conrad Mitchell, with a highlight reel backhanded shot placed perfectly under the crossbar, regained the Wolves lead just 23 seconds after Zielke’s goal. Then with 3:49 left in the middle frame, La Ronge capitalized on the powerplay with Gavin Mattey restoring a two-goal lead.
The Mattey goal could have simply weighed to much in a deflating manner, but the perseverance reigned supreme once again for Humboldt, and in quick order.
Jerzy Orchard scored 1:29 after Mattey, and Barlage added his second of the game with just 33 seconds left in the period to tie the game back up at 5-5 heading into the third period.
The second comeback was complete, and one the Broncos would not relinquish.
In the final frame, the game remained tied until just over five minutes remaining. A pair of high-sticking calls against the Ice Wolves, one of which was a four-minute double-minor, granted Humboldt three consecutive powerplays.
Alex Morozoff buried on two of them to complete his hattrick and give the Broncos their first lead of the game as well as the insurance marker, which they would hold on to for a thrilling 7-5 victory.
Morozoff and Orchard finished with four points apiece and nine other Broncos contributed on the scoresheet.
Rayce Ramsay turned aside 26 of 31 shots faced. Meanwhile the Broncos amounted 50 shots on Cannon, to which he stopped 43.
The 7-5 victory evened up the series at 2-2.
Game 5 heads back into the stables of the Elgar Pertersen Arena on Friday, March 25th where the Broncos regain home ice advantage as the series now becomes a best-of-three.