Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

New Year, Same Goal

Written by:  Rory McGouran

Photo by: Marla Possberg

The intensity in the SJHL is about to pick-up, and the Humboldt Broncos will look to gallop out to a strong start in 2020 and avoid a photo finish for a playoff spot at the season’s end.

The Humboldt Broncos had 16 days off for the holidays to rest their hooves and refocus their manes for the second-half push to the 2019/2020 season. Resting bodies and recovering from lingering injuries is one thing, but resting the minds and getting away from hockey, while spending much needed time with family and friends, is imperative to find the focus that’s needed down the stretch to fight for one of eight SJHL playoff spots.

“It’s something we really stress. Get away from the game for a bit, enjoy your family and friends, and that’s what life is all about, especially over the holiday season,” said Broncos’ Head Coach, Scott Barney. “The guys got home for about 8 or 9 days. They were back here on the 27th and have been working really hard since, trying to get focused for the rest of the season.”

The Broncos’ break came at a much needed time with the team losing 7 of their last 8 games. Injuries were starting to pile up and the playoff race was getting tighter by the day. Last year, a nearly two-week break, very similar to this year’s, provided plenty of success, as the Broncos won 12 of their next 15 games including a 10 game winning streak. They will look to use that same hiatus this year to repeat history and recover the form of their early-season success.

“You need bodies healthy and all the guys are ready to go. They have all bought in, and are all focused on the same goal. Every day (in practice) we focused on a different part of our game. We got really deep into the things we needed to work on. We’re really excited here for the second half.”

The Broncos’ schedule will be slightly more favourable in 2020. Prior to the holiday break, the Broncos played just 16 of their 36 games on home ice. They now have 22 games remaining, 13 of which will be inside the Elgar Petersen Arena, including 8 of their last 10 games of the season.

“It’s huge for us. We have an amazing fan base here. They support us and have been all season. The players look forward to it, even in warmups when they get out there, there’s already a lot of fans here. It means a lot to our players. For us to be able to get those extra home games in the second half I think is key for our push towards the playoffs.”

The top 8 teams will head to the playoff dance come March. The Humboldt Broncos currently sit in 7th place in the SJHL with 37 points, one point behind 6th place Nipawin, and three points ahead of both 8th place Kindersley and 9th place Notre Dame. The final 20 games of the season will surely provide a photo finish down the stretch. The Broncos will look to find some separation ahead of the pack, starting on January 3rd when they travel to Yorkton to take on the Terriers.