The Humboldt Broncos’ winning streak came to an end, but after the weekend the team still sat on top of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League standings.
Playing three road games in as many days last week, the Broncos won one to stretch their streak to seven, lost a contest in a shootout, and suffered their first regulation loss since Nov. 2. As of Sunday, Humboldt had a 19-7-2-1 record. The Broncos’ 41 points topped the SJHL standings – two ahead of second-place Melfort’s 39. Humboldt is 7-2-0-1 in its last 10 games.
“The Humboldt Broncos are a united front right now,” said Estevan Bruins play-by-play voice Rob Mahon, who called the Broncos’ seventh straight victory, before the weekend games. “No one is in it for themselves and the skill coupled with the team mentality is impressive. Goaltending is top notch but with team defence as sound as it is, [goalies] Dane Dow and Rayce Ramsay don’t have to be show-stoppers.”
Last week the Broncos won their seventh straight game by skating past Estevan, 5-1, on Thursday. It was a quality road win in front of 1,386 Bruins fans who showed up at Affinity Place for the team’s annual teddy bear toss. Derek Patter and Drew Warkentine each scored twice for the Broncos. Dow stopped all but one of the 43 shots he faced.
The next night the Broncos led 2-0 in the second period in Weyburn. The Red Wings rallied, but Ramsay would not allow them to score the game winner in regulation and secured his team a valuable point in the standings. On the night, he had 31 saves. Weyburn prevailed 3-2 after the shootout. On Saturday, Yorkton got by the Humboldt, 5-3, at home.
A TSN Hockey feature last week declared that the Broncos are writing one of the best stories in hockey. The online article discussed how last summer assistant general manager Jason Neville, head scout Luke Strueby and assistant coach Chris Beaudry rebuilt the team following the April 6 bus crash tragedy. Strueby is now the assistant general manager with Neville departing early in the season to focus on other interests. Beaudry is now with the Melville Millionaires.
On the SJHL Roundtable podcast, also known as SJHL Knights of the Roundtable, Weyburn Red Wings play-by-play voice Austin Arvay said the players assembled “have come in and just worked their asses off and made that team what it is. They are fun to watch.”
While the Broncos certainly have talent, they are not afraid to play with an edge.
“I’m amazed at the ability of the Broncos to get under other teams’ skin,” Mahon said. “The forwards are nearly as fast with a verbal jab as with the puck, and, like all good agitators, their best agitators are often their top players. But they rarely get sucked into penalty trouble themselves.”
Mahon said that team speed has been a real strength for the Broncos. They turn the puck up ice quickly, he noted. Michael Clarke was sixth in the SJHL in scoring with a team-high 37 points, as of Sunday. Clarke and Camrud, who missed time with an injury earlier this season, pace the Broncos with 15 goals each. Newcomer Drew Warkentine has established himself as an offensive force to be reckoned with. He has seven goals, including two game winners, in his first five games with the team.
Defenceman Josh Patrician leads the Humboldt blue line with five goals and 19 points. Fellow defenceman Chase Felgueiras had 12 points and earned a spot on the NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch list in advance of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
On a recent SJHL Roundtable podcast, Mahon said Dow might be the Broncos’ MVP to this point. Dow has a league-best 14 wins and is third in the SJHL in goals against average at 2.45.
His backup, Rayce Ramsay, has played in the Western Hockey League this season with the Kamloops Blazers. With the Broncos, Ramsay has five wins and a 2.60 GAA.
By Saturday, Junior A teams must have their roster cut down to 25 or fewer players. Teams will sometimes go lower than 25 to provide flexibility in regards to player cards for moves by the Jan. 10 trade deadline. According to the Broncos roster on the SJHL website they are at 24 players.
Former Broncos Ryan Straschnitzki and Jacob Wassermann were honoured at the Colorado Avalanche versus Dallas Stars game in Denver on Saturday The duo, two of the survivors of the April 6 bus crash, received individual video tributes and dropped ceremonial pucks. This took place a day after they were on the ice together in an exhibition sledge hockey game at the University of Denver. The players also attended the Denver Broncos versus Pittsburgh Steelers NFL game.
On Sunday in Stratford, Ont. the composer and pianist Marek Norman, his wife and singer Barbara Barsky, and the INNERchamber quartet performed an all-original song cycle inspired by the events of April 6. The music, composed by Norman, is entitled Song Cycle: The Light that Shines.
Humboldt Broncos defenceman Chase Felgueiras has been invited to the Team Canada West selection camp for the World Junior A Hockey Challenge.
The camp will be held Dec. 3-5 in Calgary. Those who make the Canada West squad will compete at the Junior A Challenge Dec. 9-14 in Bonnyville against teams from Canada East, Russia, the United States, and the Czech Republic.
A Calgary product, Felgueiras has 12 points in 29 games for the Broncos this season. He was on the recent NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch List for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
The Broncos host the Kindersley Klippers on Thursday night. The Broncos lead the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division, and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, with a 19-7-2-1 record. The Klippers are third in the division with a 14-8-2-1 record. The Broncos kick off their December schedule by playing Yorkton at the Elgar Petersen Arena on Sunday. On Dec. 4, the team travels to play the Battlefords North Stars, who sit second in the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division with a 15-8-1-4 record.