HUMBOLDT — The Humboldt Broncos have momentum as they head into the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs.
With only a Tuesday night tilt with Melville remaining on its regular season schedule, the team was on a five-game winning streak. Last week the Broncos dispatched the league leading Battlefords North Stars, 6-1, in front of 780 at the Elgar Petersen Arena on Feb. 26. Last Friday, at home, Humboldt beat Notre Dame 6-3 with 950 looking on.
“We’re heating up at the right time,” Broncos captain Graysen Cameron said. “We’re getting some confidence.”
Head coach Scott Barney said, “It seems like everything is coming together here as a whole, as a team. It’s great to see this time of year we are going in the right direction.”
The Tuesday night game will determine who Humboldt plays in the SJHL quarterfinals, which start this weekend. With a win, the Broncos would finish seventh and take on No. 2 seed Flin Flon. A loss would see the team place eighth and face the North Stars.
Cameron and Barney called last week’s win against Battlefords a “confidence booster.”
“They didn’t play their whole lineup, but we try to play the same way regardless of who’s in and who’s out. … They have as a good a team as anybody and they will be a force in the playoffs here,” Barney said.
Humboldt had a good start and led 2-0 and 5-1 at the intermissions. Goaltender Michael Harroch made 21 saves on 22 shots.
Against the Hounds, the Broncos had strong special teams play. They were three-for-nine on the powerplay and killed off six of Notre Dame’s seven man advantage opportunities.
“I thought the boys battled hard for 60 minutes in the Notre Dame game,” Barney said. “Michael made some big saves early for us and we got some big goals.”
Harroch had 27 saves. Defenceman Doug Scott scored two goals and recorded three points in the contest. Luke Spadafora was back in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 25 and scored.
“He is a top five, 10 player in this league,” Barney said. “It’s huge to have him in there. It gives our players confidence.”
The Broncos put together a strong regular season, 27-21-7-2, as of Sunday, with a roster featuring 14 rookies. Of the development of the team and the youngsters, Cameron, a 20-year-old, said, “It’s pretty awesome to watch... Knowing these guys are the future of the team... It’s exciting times in Humboldt. There is going to be a core of guys with a ton of skill.”
Through Sunday, 20-year-old veteran Logan Foster led the team with 76 points in 57 games. Tristan Shewchuk, in his 18-year-old season, had a team-high 30 goals. Spadafora, in his 19-year-old season, had 53 points in a season split between Humboldt and Melville.
Karter McNarland, playing as a 16-year-old, was fourth on the team in points with 51. Eighteen-year-old rookies Logan Kurki and Braiden Koran rounded out the team’s top six scorers with 43 and 34 points, respectively. Kurki was third on the team with 23 goals. He had 17 of those since Jan. 1.
On the backend, Doug Scott, who was acquired during the season, had 10 goals and 29 points in 26 games. Fellow defenceman Jackson Bohan, in his 18-year-old campaign, posted 26 points.
Behind them, rookie goalie Brendan Forman led the team with 18 wins. Michael Harroch had Bronco bests of a 3.08 goals against average and .908 save percentage.
The Broncos last week
Wednesday, Feb. 26 in Humboldt
Humboldt 6, Battlefords 1
Broncos Scorers: Reid Arnold (2), Logan Kurki, Logan Foster, Cody Hough, Braiden Koran
North Stars Scorer: Ryland McNinch
Goalies: Michael Harroch, Humboldt, 21 saves on 22 shots; Austin Schwab, Battlefords, 54 on 60
Notes: The Broncos led 2-0 in the first period and went up 3-0 in the second. They were up 5-1 at the second intermission. Doug Scott recorded three assists. Koran also had three points.
Saturday, Feb. 29 in Humboldt
Humboldt 6, Notre Dame 3
Broncos Scorers: Doug Scott (2), Graysen Cameron, Luke Spadafora, Braiden Koran
Hounds Scorers: Sho Takai (2), Olivier Lepine
Goalies: Michael Harroch, Humboldt, 27 saves on 30 shots; Logan Dyck, Notre Dame, 48 on 53
Notes: The Broncos scored on three of their nine powerplay opportunities. Notre Dame was one-for-seven with the man advantage. Scott had three points on the night. Karter McNarland and Logan Foster each had two assists.
The Humboldt Broncos host the Melville Millionaires (16-35-2-4) on Tuesday in a regular season finale that will determine who the hosts face in the playoffs. If the Broncos win, they will finish in seventh place and play second seeded Flin Flon (36-14-7-0). This would mean Nipawin (30-24-3-1) would be eighth and play the top seeded Battlefords North Stars (45-11-2-0). A Broncos’ loss would give Nipawin the seventh seed. The playoffs start this weekend.