The Humboldt Broncos will look to get back on the winning track in 2019.
The team captured headlines as it not only got back on the ice after the April 6 bus crash that claimed the lives of 16 people and injured 13 others – but also succeeded. Partway through November, the Broncos had a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League-best 18-6-2 record. The Broncos were ranked No. 18 in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 Weekly Rankings.
December was not kind to the team – and it was not just the low temperatures. Last week the squad dropped three straight games while wrapping up the 2018 portion of their season. Humboldt fell to Notre Dame, 4-2, on the road on Wednesday. On the weekend, the Broncos lost both parts of their home-and-home series (7-2 and 6-2) with the Melfort Mustangs.
Humboldt is 2-7-0-1 in its last 10 games. On the season, the Broncos are 21-13-2-1 with a .609 winning percentage. As of Sunday, they sat fifth in the SJHL standings. The Broncos were in a tight battle with the Kindersley Klippers for the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division lead.
The Humboldt team is off now until the new year. The Broncos kick off 2019 by hosting the Notre Dame Hounds on Jan. 2. After that they play a home-and-home series with the Battlefords North Stars.
At the Christmas break, Michael Clarke led the Broncos with 46 points. Recently acquired Mitch Zambon was second with 36 points split between Humboldt and La Ronge. He has three goals and six points in seven games as a Bronco.
Clarke paced the squad with 26 assists and 19 goals. Brayden Camrud was second in goals with 17. Since joining the Broncos in November, Drew Warkentine has lit the lamp 10 times in 12 games.
Owen Guenter was second to Clarke in assists with 24. Josh Patrician led the Bronco blue line with 23 points.
In net, Dane Dow had a 15-10-2-0 record with a 2.86 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. Rookie Rayce Ramsay, who has spent time with the Kamloops Blazers in the Western Hockey League, is 6-3-0-1 with a 2.75 goals against average and .926 save percentage.
For the second straight year, the SJHL has teamed up with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for a joint showcase. The event runs Jan. 14 and 15 at the Co-Operators Arena in Regina. Players from each team will be selected to play on age-group squads in front of scouts from various levels of hockey, including NCAA and the pros.
Last season Broncos Logan Schatz, Bryce Fiske, Brayden Camrud, Nick Shumlanski, Conner Lukan, Ryan Straschnitzki, Xavier Labelle, and Logan Hunter all played in the inaugural event with Darcy Haugan serving as an assistant coach.
The national trade deadline is Jan. 10.
The Weyburn Red Wings fired head coach Wes Rudy last week. Kyle Haines was named the interim head coach. Rudy is the second SJHL coach to lose his job this season. Melville’s Devin Windle was let go in November.
The Broncos are now off for the SJHL Christmas break. The squad does not play again until Jan. 2 when it hosts Notre Dame.