HUMBOLDT — In this year’s Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League standings, every point matters.
With only seven points separating the third place Nipawin Hawks (59) from the eighth place Estevan Bruins (52), teams such as the Humboldt Broncos are battling for playoff positioning. With a 4-3 overtime loss last week to the Kindersley Klippers, the Broncos (22-20-7-2) picked up a valuable point in the standings.
As of Sunday, it made the difference between them being seventh in the SJHL or eighth. Placing eighth would put the team in the league’s final playoff berth and a first round date with the defending champion and league leading Battlefords North Stars (41-8-2-0), who are coached by Humboldt product Brayden Klimosko.
The Broncos have seven games left and are looking to solidify their playoff positioning. As of Sunday, the squad, with 53, was six points ahead of the ninth place Kindersley Klippers, who had 47. If the playoffs had started this week the Klippers would have been on the outside in. While trying to fend off Estevan and Kindersley, the Broncos are also hoping to catch La Ronge and Melfort, who sat fifth and sixth, respectively, with 57 points each. Yorkton was one point of those two with 58.
The Broncos picked up their point in the standings last week by battling back. On Feb. 4, they trailed the Klippers 2-0 in the first period and 3-0 in the second on the road. Before the second intermission, the Broncos made Kindersley pay for penalties. Logan Kurki, Reid Arnold and Tristan Shewchuk all lit the lamp on the powerplay to tie the contest. Scott McKenzie gave the hosts the victory with an overtime goal.
“It was good to see the boys fight back and get a point in Kindersley,” head coach Scott Barney said. “Obviously I didn’t think we had a really good start in the first period... Always good when you come back and get one point at least on the road.”
Also last week, Humboldt lost 5-2 at home on Feb. 8. The Broncos trailed by one, 2-1, at the intermissions.
“I thought, both games, we were kind of sluggish in the first period,” Barney said. “I don’t know if that’s due to guys being tired. We’ve played a lot of hockey in the last few weeks.
“Obviously, we’ll get back to work this week. Overall, there’s some things we’ve got to address and teach here moving forward. We’ve got to move forward here this week with three home games here Friday, Saturday and Monday.”
The Broncos host Yorkton on Friday and Nipawin on Saturday. They get next week started by playing Kindersley at the Elgar Petersen Arena.
Last week Bombers forward Logan Foster was named the RBC SJHL Player of the Month for January. The 20-year-old from Kamsack recorded nine goals and 10 assists in 12 games during the first month of 2020. During a six-game stretch, Foster scored seven goals and had eight assists. As of Sunday, he led the Broncos with 65 points, 27 goals and 38 assists.
The Broncos last week
Tuesday, Feb. 4 in Kindersley
Kindersley 4, Humboldt 3 OT
Broncos Scorers: Logan Kurki, Tristan Shewchuk, Reid Arnold
Klippers Scorers: Hunter Larocque (2), Scott McKenzie (2)
Goalies: Michael Harroch, Humboldt, 35 saves on 39 shots; Steven Bacovsky, Kindersley, 25 on 28
Notes: The Klippers took a 2-0 first period lead, on two goals by Larocque, and went up 3-0 in the second. The Broncos got rolling and scored three second period goals, with two coming on the powerplay. McKenzie had the game winner in overtime. Logan Foster, Shewchuk, and Arnold each had two points for Humboldt.
Saturday, Feb. 8 in Humboldt
Weyburn 5, Humboldt 2
Broncos Scorers: Tristan Shewchuk, Doug Scott
Red Wings Scorers: Liam Rutten, Mathieu Belanger, Braden Birnie, Kabir Gill, Nikolas Sambrowski
Goalies: Michael Harroch, Humboldt, 22 saves on 25 shots; Douglas Wakelyn, Weyburn, 51 on 53
Notes: Shewchuk has scored in his last three games. He has five points over that span. The Broncos outshot the Red Wings 53-27. Weyburn led 2-1 after the first period. Neither team scored in the second. The Red Wings outscored the Broncos, 3-1, in the third.
The Humboldt Broncos (22-20-7-2) are on a four-game homestand. The second game of that is Friday when the Yorkton Terriers (28-19-1-1) visit. The Nipawin Hawks (28-19-3-0) are in town on Saturday. The Broncos wrap up the home stand playing Kindersley (20-23-6-1) on Monday.