No one said it would be easy.
On Friday, March 18, for the first time in 737 days, SJHL playoff hockey was back in the Elgar Petersen Arena
The #2 seed Humboldt Broncos and the #7 seed La Ronge Ice Wolves dropped the puck for Game 1 of their quarter-final series. The Ice Wolves gave the Broncos everything they could handle in game one, a wild back and forth affair that featured 4 lead changes. However, in the end, the Broncos fought back for the final time in the third period to secure a 6-4 victory and take a 1-0 series lead.
Ice Wolves Captain, Holden Knights may have been the best player on the ice, imposing his will with a highly aggressive and physical style of play built for the playoffs. He also finished the night with two goals, scoring the game’s opening goal just 1:15 into the first period for a 1-0 La Ronge lead.
After conceding the game’s opening goal, the Broncos settled down and found production of their own to shift the momentum back in their favour. Braiden Koran and Rhett Gibson scored powerplay goals which sandwiched Alex Morozoff’s first of the postseason, building a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes, while also outshooting the Wolves 25-8.
The puck dropped on the second period and the Broncos collapsed in a state of complacency, which is a recipe for disaster in the depths and intensity of the playoffs.
A 5 on 3 powerplay gifted the Ice Wolves two goals by Knights and Mkyllan Couture to tie the game at 3-3. Then with four minutes left in the middle frame, Brandon Della Paolera added a shorthanded goal that beat Rayce Ramsay to propel La Ronge back in the lead and take a 4-3 advantage into the third.
Behind the energy of a charismatic crowd, the Broncos found a way to shift the game back in their favour. Another powerplay resulted in the game tying goal, the second of the game for Rhett Gibson, in the opening two minutes of third.
The game remained tied 4-4 until the final two minutes. La Ronge took another penalty, and for the fourth time in six chances on the man advantage, the Broncos capitalized. Alec Saretzky banged home a loose puck at the side of the net with 1:22 left in the game for a 5-4 Broncos lead. The Ice Wolves pulled the goalie and looked for the equalizer, but Nicksha Eric found the back of the empty net and the Broncos secured the 6-4 victory.
The Broncos will look to protect home ice and take a 2-0 series lead on Saturday, March 19, 2022.