On a six-game winning streak, the Humboldt Broncos continue to top the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League standings.
Enjoying its second six-game streak of the season, the Humboldt team will seek its seventh consecutive victory on Thursday when it plays the Viterra Division-leading Estevan Bruins on the road. As of Nov. 18, the Broncos were 8-1-1-0 in their last 10 games. They had a league-best record of 18-6-2-0 with 38 standings points.
How has a team with only three players returning following the April 6 bus crash tragedy been able to be successful so quickly?
“The main reason for our team’s success is our bond in the dressing room,” said assistant captain Michael Clarke. “There isn’t a guy in that room who doesn’t want to be there and that makes a huge difference when trying to put the best product on the ice. We are a family and, with so many new faces, it’s hard to become one. However, we have found a way to do so and when there’s a group of 25 guys with a common goal, and intense work ethic, it’s easier to achieve that success.”
The Broncos swept their two games last week. They beat the defending SJHL champion Nipawin Hawks, 2-1, on the road on Friday. On Saturday, they galloped past their Global Ag Risk Solutions Division rival Notre Dame, 7-2, at home.
The acquisition of Drew Warkentine quickly paid dividends. The forward from Prince Albert scored the Broncos’ first goal against Nipawin in his debut with the team. He has scored in each of his two games. The 20-year-old was picked up earlier in the week from the Drayton Valley Thunder for a player development fee.
Warkentine is not exactly a newcomer to the Broncos. He played three games for the team as an affiliated player as a 16-year-old in 2104-15. The next season he suited up for six games with the Broncos before joining the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders. After parts of three seasons with his hometown major junior team, Warkentine played for Melfort last season after a brief stint with the Junior B Carrot River Outback Thunder. He had three goals and six points for the Lloydminster Bobcats in 15 games this season before being traded to Drayton Valley, who he never played for, and then flipped to Humboldt.
Against the Notre Dame Hounds, the Broncos once again put their depth on display. Eleven players recorded at least a point in the victory.
Clarke leads the Broncos with 35 points in 25 games and he and Brayden Camrud each have 14 goals. However, the team has received offensive contributions from a variety of players. Eight Broncos have at least 10 points.
Nine players have lit the lamp at least four times so far this season. Derek Patter has five goals on the season and three of those were game winners.
On the other end of the ice, the Broncos were tied after Saturday’s games for the third lowest goals against in the SJHL with 67 in 26 games. Goalie Dane Dow led the league with 13 wins and had the third best goals against average at 2.44. Backup Rayce Ramsay has five wins and a 2.72 GAA.
The Broncos have been strong at home this season. They sport a 10-3-0-0 home record. The team averages 888 fans a game – second only to Estevan’s 973.
Late Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan had his number 22 jersey retired at Briercrest College and Seminary on Friday. Haugan led the Clippers in scoring in 1998 and 1999. He holds the team record for points in a single season. Haugan and his wife Christina met at the Caronport school.
On Thursday, Sean Brandow, who was the Broncos team chaplain last season, is slated to be part of the Peterborough Petes’ Faith Night in Ontario.
Former Broncos Bryce Fiske and Matthieu Gomercic were features in a Globe and Mail article about them playing for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, in Oshawa.
The Broncos have a trio of road games this week against the Viterra Division. On Thursday the team is in Estevan to play the Viterra Division-leading Bruins. The Broncos visit Weyburn on Friday and Yorkton on Saturday.