Written by: Rory McGouran
The two-horse race has taken centre stage again!
In the first out of six races this season between the two out-of-division rival horses, it was the Broncos who ran the hardest and came out as the lead horse, defeating the Mustangs 5-2.
Taking place on family weekend and racing on the opposing teams track, over 150 Broncos’ family members, billets, and fans travelled to the Northern Lights Palace to cheer on the green and gold stable of horses at the yearly family-oriented weekend. They provided the spark needed in an often-sullen atmosphere in Melfort. The Broncos took the opening lead out of the starting gates with a goal from Dylan Nazareth, his second of the season, for a 1-0 lead.
Over the past 5 years, the two horses have been in a virtual deadlock of competitiveness, routinely resulting in photo finishes with each team winning 8 of the 16 prior games. The second period mirrored the past five years of this rivalry.
Alternating goals back and forth in the second frame, the tightly contested game continued. Melfort’s defenseman, Chase Friedt-Mohr used his patented powerplay one-timer to tie the game at one. Broncos’ rookie, Ryder Knutson fired a seeing-eye point shot two minutes later for his first career SJHL goal to regain the one-goal lead. That lead was very short lived as just 13 seconds after, off the ensuing faceoff, Aidyn Hutchinson fired his 8th of the season over the glove of Aidan Fischer.
Fischer was otherwise brilliant, turning in his best performance in an already spectacular rookie season as the Broncos’ backup netminder. Fischer stopped 43 of 45 Mustangs’ attempts with numerous highlight reel saves to improve his record to 5-1-0, with a 2.10 GAA, and .937 SV%.
Before the second period expired, the Broncos once again regained their lead with Landon Stromme’s 8th of the season. Stromme, who is from Choiceland, SK, not far from Melfort, was engaged all game with his relentless attack, devastating hits, and a stifling penalty kill.
The penalty kill was desperately needed in the third period. The Broncos ran into some troubles and started the first 6:30 of the final frame shorthanded, 1:41 while on a 5-on-3 kill. The penalty kill and Fischer were exceptional, battling with immense heart and determination to kill all 6 and a half minutes.
Once back at even strength, Matthew Van Blaricom added breathing room, giving the Broncos their first two-goal lead of the game on a beautiful wraparound for his team leading 16th of the season.
Marik Mamic added the statement empty-net marker and gave all 150+ Broncos’ fans in attendance a well enjoyed ride home with a 5-2 victory.
The culmination of family weekend will commence on Saturday with the rematch of the two-horse race back on the Broncos’ home track. It will be the first time the Broncos play in front of their stable of hometown crowd in 21 days.