Humboldt Broncos near end of regular season with rough week

Broncos suffer fifth straight extra time loss to North Stars

The Humboldt Broncos keep climbing towards the top of the mountain, but can never seem to reach its peak.

The Broncos suffered a 2-1 shootout loss to the Battlefords North Stars in Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League action from North Battleford on March 2.

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The loss was the Broncos’ fifth in five tries against the North Stars this season, with all five games being decided in either overtime or a shootout.

The loss was also the Broncos’ 18th straight against the North Stars, dating back to Jan. 28, 2015, when the Broncos picked up a 5-0 home win.

Despite the loss and the lengthy streak, Broncos assistant coach Mark Cross does not see the Broncos’ issue as a mental one.

“The guys battled pretty hard, especially in the first 40 minutes and then in the third we started to play a little softer. Obviously against Battlefords you can’t do thathey’re going to bury their chances so it was a tough one to swallow but obviously you look forward to growing as a team from there.”

MacGregor Sinclair, Layne Young, and Brad Girard had the shootout goals for the North Stars, while Logan Hunter and Logan Schatz responded for the Broncos, as the North Stars picked up the four round shootout win.

Goaltending and defence reigned supreme throughout the contest as both goalies were solid throughout.

Jacob Wassermann, making his first start since being returned from the Regina Pats, was solid in goal for the Broncos turning aside 28 of the 29 shots he faced through regulation and overtime, with his only blemish being a Keith Anderson third period goal.

Wassermann struggled slightly in the shootout however, managing just one save on four shots, as he was the hard luck loser.

Brayden Camrud scored the lone goal for the Broncos, his 16th of the season at 7:24 of the second on the power play, which gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead at the time.

Anderson tied the score up in the third with his 17th of the year, sending the game into overtime.

After overtime solved nothing the game went to a shootout, where the teams scored on five of their eight shots.

Despite picking up one power play goal, special teams were a major concern for the Broncos as they managed just one goal on seven power play opportunities.

Cross admits the power play is a concern and says they are working on simplifying it in time for the playoffs.

“We’re spending quite a bit of time on it and we’re just trying to get those looks. Once we get to the playoffs our special teams are going to have to obviously be a lot better if we’re looking to make a deep run this year.”

Broncos suffer worst result of season in loss to North Stars

The Humboldt Broncos have nothing left to play for during the regular season, and it showed with an ugly 6-1 loss on home ice against the Battlefords North Stars in Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League action.

The March 3 contest saw the Broncos rest some regulars, with many others looking uninspired.

“That was the worst outcome we’ve had all season,” lamented assistant coach Mark Cross.

“Obviously it wasn’t our full lineup there but I think the whole year we’ve been pretty resilient even when we get scored on with that first goal but that night early on the bounces weren’t going our way.

Obviously it wasn’t the effort we wanted to put forth but hopefully we can get that out of the way and continue on going into the post season here.”

With the Broncos locked into the fifth seed, and knowing they will play Melfort in round one, the Broncos took the time to rest some of their older players, giving a trio of youngsters the chance to play in the SJHL.

Trey Stocker and Mitchell Girolami, both 17 years old, returned to the Broncos lineup after dressing in games earlier this season, while 15-year-old Boston Maxwell made his SJHL debut.

Getting those guys in the lineup for regular season SJHL action is really nice, admits Cross.

“Just kind of show them what we’re all about before they hopefully crack the lineup for next year,” noted Cross.

“And obviously getting Boston up here for his first SJ game was really good. We thought that he had a really good showing. For a 15-year-old he looked very good out there, not out of place so I think that that’s pretty exciting to have in our future for him to be in our organization.”

Bryce Fiske scored the lone goal for the Broncos, while Conner Lukan and Nick Shumlanski each recorded an assist as the Broncos closed out the home portion of their schedule on a low note.

MacGregor Sinclair scored twice for the North Stars, while Connor McIntosh, Cole Johnson, Brad Girard, and Connor Manegre added the others, as the North Stars completed a six game sweep of the Broncos and extended their unbeaten run to 19 straight against the green and gold.

The loss marked the first time all season the Broncos failed to register a point against the North Stars, losing the previous five in overtime or a shootout.

The North Stars needed just 20 seconds to take the lead as McIntosh beat Broncos started Parker Tobin with his fourth of the year.

It was an ugly opening ten minutes for the Broncos, who aside from giving up the game’s opening goal, were outshot 14-1.

Fiske got the Broncos on the board with his eighth of the year at 10:28, but a Girard goal 1:36 later put the North Stars back in front, this time for good.

After being outscored 2-1 in the first, and outshot 16-9, the second period got even worse for the home side as Johnson and Sinclair twice, both found the back of the net for the North Stars extending the lead to 5-1 after two periods.

Manegre added to the North Stars lead with his fourth of the year at 2:15, and the Broncos just seemed to pack it in.

Despite trailing 6-1 early in the third, the Broncos demonstrated no push back, as they failed to register a shot in the third period.     

Tobin was busy in the Broncos goal allowing six goals on 41 shots as the Broncos were outshot 41-16.

The green and gold will look to finish the regular season on a high, when they visit the Notre Dame Hounds on March 6 in Wilcox.

“You always want to end your regular season with some momentum go into the playoffs feeling good and I think after that last performance we can expect a pretty good turnout for our guys, hopefully with quite a bit of fire in their stomachs and come out and shoot the lights out and put up some goals there,” noted Cross.

With the Hounds also in a dogfight for the sixth seed, Cross admits his hope is the players use that as added motivation.

“We want to win that game just if we would any other game. It’s always fun being the spoiler.”

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