HUMBOLDT — The Humboldt Broncos proved last week that they could compete with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s best team.
On Friday night, the Broncos and Battlefords North Stars were tied at 2-2 after two periods. The league-leading North Stars prevailed 5-2 at home. However, the Broncos rebounded Saturday to put the brakes on Battlefords’ seven-game winning streak with a 5-3 victory in front of 1,008 at the Elgar Petersen Arena.
“A big win for the guys,” Humboldt head coach Scott Barney said. “Obviously to beat a team like Battlefords, the season they are having this year and the experience they have from the championship last year with those players back, it’s big momentum for us going forward with our younger guys. They have a great team over there and we respect them a lot. It’s great to play these games this time of year to get you ready for the playoffs.
By going 1-1-1-0 last week, the Broncos improved their record on the season to 22-19-6-2. They were in seventh place with 52 in the SJHL standings. Battlefords topped those standings with a 39-8-2-0 record and 80 points.
While the Broncos respect the North Stars, they proved Saturday night that they are not in awe of them.
“One thing that really impressed me in Saturday’s game was just our willingness to compete and battle against a veteran club like Battlefords,” Barney said. “We didn’t back down from anything. We want to protect our net. That’s a big thing that we’ve been preaching. If something happens around our net, we want everyone in there together. We play as a team.
“Nobody backed down. That’s a big sign for the character group we have here. That goes with our leadership group that starts with [captain] Greyson [Cameron] and our assistant captains as well.”
On Saturday, Humboldt had a good start. The Broncos led 1-0 and 2-1 at the intermissions.
The night before it was Battlefords who scored early. The North Stars held a 2-0 first period lead. The Broncos were able to fight their way back and tie the game at 2-2 by the end of the second. However, Battlefords was able to score three times in the third.
“They had a really strong first period to get out to the two-goal lead,” Barney said. “We battled back to make it 2-2. Obviously, they have a strong team. They are on their home ice and they had two or three nice goals in the third period. Good teams always find ways to win and that’s what they did.”
Before battling Battlefords on the weekend, the Broncos faced Kindersley on Tuesday. At the EPA, Humboldt took a 1-0 first period lead and led 2-1 in the second. The Klippers were able to tie the game before the second intermission. Neither team lit the lamp in the third and Brett Neumeier scored in overtime for Kindersley. The overtime loss netted the Broncos a valuable point in the standings.
The top eight teams this season make the SJHL playoffs. Humboldt sits in seventh – only three points behind the fourth through sixth place teams – Melfort, Nipawin and La Ronge – who all have 55 points. The Broncos are four points ahead of eighth place Estevan, which has 48.
The Broncos last week
Tuesday, Jan. 28 in Humboldt
Kindersley 3, Humboldt 2 OT
Broncos Scorers: Logan Foster, Doug Scott
Klippers Scorers: Jacob Schnapp, Eric Sorensen, Brett Neumeier
Goalies: Michael Harroch, Humboldt, 33 saves on 36 shots; Steven Bacovsky, Kindersley, 30 on 32
Notes: Scott gave the Broncos a 1-0 first period lead with a goal on the powerplay. Three minutes into the second period Sorensen tied the game. About 10 minutes later, Foster put Humboldt back on top. Schnapp knotted the game before the second intermission. Neither team scored in third and Neumeier had the OT game winner.
Friday, Jan. 31 in North Battleford
Battlefords 5, Humboldt 2
Broncos Scorers: Logan Kurki, Tyson McLean
North Stars Scorers: Jaxon Steele, Quintin Loon-Stewardson, Steven Kesslering, Ben Hiltz, Seth Summers
Goalies: Michael Harroch, Humboldt, 32 saves on 37 shots; Kristina Lyon, Battlefords, 32 on 34
Notes: The North Stars jumped out to a 2-0 first period. In the second session, McLean scored shorthanded and Kurki lit the lamp to tie up the contest. The North Stars scored a trio of third period goals. Bronco Max Gudnason assisted on both goals.
Saturday, Feb. 1 in Humboldt
Humboldt 5, Battlefords 3
Broncos Scorers: Kade Olsen, Logan Kurki, Karter McNarland, Tristan Shewchuk, Logan Foster
North Stars Scorers: Austin Becker, Jaxon Steele, Ben Hiltz
Goalies: Michael Harroch, Humboldt, 29 saves on 32 shots; Adam Dmyterko, Battlefords, 39 on 44
Notes: The Broncos led 1-0 and 2-1 at the intermissions. They outscored the league-leading North Stars, 3-2, in the third period to secure the win. McNarland, Shewchuk, and Foster each recorded two points. Humboldt captain Graysen Cameron and Battlefords’ Quintin Loon-Stewardson fought in the second period.
The Humboldt Broncos (22-19-6-2) are in Kindersley (18-22-6-1) on Tuesday. The team is back at the Elgar Petersen Arena to play Weyburn (18-28-0-1) on Saturday. That contest starts a four-game homestand for the Broncos.