In the third meeting of the season between the SJHL’s two horses, the Humboldt Broncos were unable to overcome the Melfort Mustangs, losing 5-2 on Friday night.
With a depleted lineup, the Broncos were missing three of their regular defensemen, along with their leading goal-scorer. Those lineup omissions thrusted two new defensemen into action against the league’s hottest team. Simon Garchinski, a 2007 call-up playing his first game of the year, and Oakley McIlwain, a trade deadline acquisition who has yet to have a practice with the Broncos, both were needed in the starting lineup. The Broncos d-core fell even more thin when Daylan Weigel got ejected at the end of the first period.
Outside of the lineup adversity, the Broncos were outmatched by the Mustangs in the first period. Bo Eisnor scored 3 minutes into the game and Clay Sleeva, who finished the night with a hat-trick, built a 2-0 lead heading into the second.
Early in the middle frame, Sleeva added his second goal of the game presenting a daunting 3-0 hole for the Broncos.
Humboldt’s best stretch of hockey came in the second half of the period. Spencer Bell finally got the Broncos on the board with his 22nd of the year, and just 1:07 later, Brayden Skogstad scored a shorthanded goal to cut the lead to 3-2. This was the 9th SH goal the Broncos have scored this season and just the 2nd the Mustangs have given up.
With the Broncos pressing for the equalizer, the wind was taken out of their sails as Nolan Patterson beat Broncos’ netminder, Ben Motew with just 36 second left in the period, regaining a two-goal lead heading into the third.
In the third period, Sleeva put the game to bed, completing his hattrick with an empty net marker.
The Broncos and Mustangs were both 0/4 on their powerplays.
With the victory the Mustangs moved 4 points up on the Broncos in the SJHL standings, although the Broncos still have three games in hand.
The two horses will trot back out on the track to complete the weekend set in Humboldt on Saturday.