Written by: Rory McGouran
Yet again, the Humboldt Broncos and the Melfort Mustangs back-to-back weekend games resulted in a series split between the league’s two horses.
Over the past six seasons, there has been no other rivalry between any two SJHL teams that’s been as evenly matched as the two-horse race between the Broncos and the Mustangs. 18 renditions of the race have been run between the two over the last six years, and following Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Mustangs, its an even 9-9 split in victories for each club.
Saturday’s contest had a similar feeling that we’ve become accustomed to when the Stangs and Broncos meet. Both teams controlled extended portions throughout the 60-minutes while vying for anything more than a one-goal lead, which would never come to fruition.
The first period provided plenty of back-and-forth offence.
The Broncos opened the scoring on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play that ended up on, and quickly off, the stick of Pat Lanthier for his third goal of the season.
The Mustangs countered with two straight of their own to take a 2-1 lead with goals from Logan Belton’s 7th, and Nolan Henderson’s first of the season.
Before the first period expired, Matthew Van Blaricom, who finished with 4 points on the night, fired home his 17th of the season (3rd place in the SJHL) to send a 2-2 tie into the second.
The second period shifted to a strict defensive style of game. No goals were scored while the Broncos outshot the Mustangs 10-7.
The narrative completely changed once again in the third with 5 more combined goals, 4 of which were scored on special teams.
The Broncos regained their one-goal lead on the powerplay with a Cage Newans one-timer. This was the captain’s 10th goal of the season and his 8th on the man advantage.
Just two minutes later, Melfort’s captain struck back. Leith Olafson sent a point shot through a screen and passed Ben Motew for his second of the year.
On a following Broncos’ powerplay, Travis Bryson (11) was left all alone in front of the Mustangs’ crease where he took a behind the net feed from Spencer Bell to put the Broncos up 4-3 with just 6:30 remaining in the game.
Cue the comeback.
The Mustangs were granted 4 straight powerplays in the opening 30 minutes, so history tells us the Broncos were going to get some calls going their way. However, on the Broncos 4th powerplay late in the third, it went the other way on them. David Coyle squeaked a shorthanded short side shot through Motew and tied the game once again. It’s a goal that Motew would surely want back and was the 3rd shorthanded goal allowed by the Broncos this season.
With 1:39 remaining, when it looked as if the game was heading to overtime, Van Blaricom was called for tripping, sending the Mustangs on their 6th powerplay, and Henderson picked up his second goal of the game which stood as the game winner.
Both teams scored two powerplay goals, with Melfort going 2/6 and Humboldt successful on 2/4.
Kristian Coombs picked up his first career win stopping 29 of 33, while Motew’s record fell to 10-4-2-1, making 28 saves on 33 shots.
The Broncos will have a few days between games before returning on a northern road trip for three games in three days in La Ronge and Flin Flon.