Broncos blow late lead; lose game one
Michael Grant played the overtime hero scoring a power play goal 2:33 into double overtime giving the Nipawin Hawks a 3-2 overtime victory over the Humboldt Broncos in game one of their Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League semi-final series in Nipawin.
Grant’s goal gave the Hawks a 1-0 series lead.
Grant banged hope a Brett Harasymuk rebound to give the black and gold the early series lead.
The Broncos gave away a massive opportunity to win, leading late in the third period, and assistant coach Chris Beaudry admits the club let one slip away.
“I think we thought we had them… It was in our grasp to have game one and we let it slip away.”
Thomas Lenchyshyn led the way offensively for the Hawks scoring the tying goal and setting up one other, while Grant and Tyler Adams each added a goal, and Harasymuk chipped in with two assists.
Declan Hobbs picked up the win in the Hawks cage turning aside 33 shots for his fifth win of the playoffs.
Bryce Fiske responded with a goal and an assist for the Broncos, while Conner Lukan added the other goal and Logan Schatz chipped in with two assists.
Parker Tobin was charged with the loss in the Broncos goal after allowing three goals on 47 shots.
Adams got the Hawks on the board first, notching a power play marker, his second of the playoffs, at 14:51 of period one to put the Hawks in front 1-0 after one period.
After giving his team the early lead, Adams put his team in a difficult spot in period two, as the 20-year-old Regina native was slapped with a five minute major and a game misconduct for charging, putting his team shorthanded.
The visitors took full advantage of the extended power play as Lukan and Fiske scored goals 33 seconds apart, both during the Adams penalty, giving the Broncos a 2-1 lead after two periods.
Despite finally taking the lead on the power play, Beaudry says he did not think it served as an energy builder for the players, noting he felt they were playing well prior to the goals.
“The puck finally found its way in for us which is always a good thing but I think we consistently played quite well, there’s just a few errors here and there that we tried to adjust and I believe we did.”
Penalties and desperation saw the Hawks take charge of the third period, as they outshot the Broncos 11-4.
Tobin stood tall for the green and gold for the majority of the period, until Lenchyshyn pulled the Hawks into a tie with his first goal of the playoffs, just 1:46 before the final horn.
Lenchyshyn’s goal sent the game to overtime tied at two.
In the first extra session, the teams went back and forth, until a late Logan Schatz penalty put the Hawks on the power play.
Schatz’s penalty came with 42 seconds left in the first overtime, and after the Hawks failed to score, they carried 1:18 of power play time into the second overtime period.
While killing that penalty off, Logan Boulet was charged with a holding minor, giving the Hawks a two second 5-on-3.
The home side failed to score on the brief 5-on-3, but they made sure to capitalize on the 5-on-4 as Grant beat Tobin to give the Hawks the win.
It was a perfect time for the Hawks to cash in on the power play as they failed to score on each of their first six chances and finished the evening 1-for-7.
Discipline was a concern for the Broncos, admits Beaudry.
“We talked about not taking selfish penalties, about being a selfless player and having to suck some things up. And I think those really carried over into game two and that’s what was our undoing there as well,” he lamented.
While the Hawks’ power play was quiet, it was a wild evening for the Broncos’ power play as they managed goals on 2-of-4 opportunities, but also yielded a shorthanded goal against.
Broncos allow four power play goals in loss to Hawks
A good special teams can make the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs.
After being the benefactors of that in the first round against Melfort, the Humboldt Broncos were on the receiving end in game two against Nipawin.
The Hawks scored five times, all on special teams, as they picked up a 5-3 win over the Broncos in Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League action from Nipawin on March 31.
While it is never nice to lose, Broncos assistant coach Chris Beaudry notes limiting Nipawin to no even strength goals shows how good his team was 5-on-5.
“Defensively, we’ve been really good. We’ve tracked back to our zone well, we’ve played good D-zone, our guys are playing really hard.”
The win completes a two-game home ice sweep for the Hawks, who now lead their series with the Broncos 2-0, with games three and four back in Humboldt April 3 and 4.
It was an ugly night for the Broncos’ penalty kill as they managed to kill just 1-of-5 power plays against, while their power play was only marginally better finishing 2-for-6, while surrendering a shorthanded goal against for the second straight night.
Missed assignments played a large role in the Broncos struggles, says Beaudry.
“(It’s) Murphy’s Law; as soon as we address it then we go and do it. But we’re ready to adjust again and I think we’re going to have a much better effort coming up (April 3) and (April 4).”
While the Broncos have given up shorthanded goals in each game, Beaudry notes one of the two goals was a result of a bad break, but says if they want to stop giving up shorties, they have to work harder.
“We’ve preached that all year, we have to win every single battle if you want to have a successful power play and most of the time we do do that but it has to be all the time.”
Bryce Fiske, Conner Lukan, and Jaxon Joseph led the way offensively for the Broncos managing one goal and one assist each.
Parker Tobin was charged with the loss in the Broncos goal allowing three goals on 11 shots before being lifted in favour of Jacob Wassermann, who came in and turned aside 21 of the 23 shots he faced.
Brett Harasymuk answered with a goal and two assists for the Hawks, while Tyler Adams, Logan Casavant, and Grant Baetsen chipped in with a goal and one assist each.
Brandan Arnold rounded out the scoring for the Hawks, while Josh McDougall picked up three assists.
Declan Hobbs picked up the win in the Hawks goal turning aside 20 shots for his sixth win of the playoffs.
The game got off to a rough start for the green and gold as Arnold and Adams scored power play goals 3:38 apart, and Harasymuk added a shorthanded marker 5:02 later, giving the Hawks a commanding 3-0 lead after the first.
Despite the massive hole, the Broncos refused to quit, and began clawing back in period two as Joseph got the green and gold on the board with his seventh of the playoffs, just 2:04 in with a power play marker.
After Lukan scored his second of the playoffs at even strength, the green and gold completed the second period comeback, as Fiske beat Hobbs on the power play at 15:12 to tie the score at three.
Unfortunately for the Broncos they could not stay out of the penalty box and it cost them, as Casavant scored on the power play, 1:39 later to put the Hawks back in front.
The home side held on to their 4-3 lead for the majority of period three, until an Xavier Labelle high sticking double minor put the Hawks back on the power play.
The Broncos did manage to kill off the first two minutes of Labelle’s penalty, but they failed to kill off the second half, as Baetsen scored his second of the playoffs with 2:22 to play, giving the Hawks a commanding 5-3 lead.
After coming back in the second, the Broncos could not pull off the feat again in period three as Hobbs shut the door for the final two-plus minutes, giving the Hawks the win.
The green and gold will have their first chance to start climbing out of the large hole with game three in Humboldt on April 3.
Game four of the series, will come April 4 in Humboldt.
For the Broncos to get back in the series, it will be important to take it one day at a time, says Beaudry, knowing the Broncos cannot tie the series in one game.
“You can’t focus on (April 3) or anything.(April 2) we focused on practice and how we’re going to get better and how we’re going to play against Nipawin and (April 3) we’re going to put that plan into place and after (April 3) we’ll look at (April 4) when it gets here.”
For the Broncos to have success in game three Beaudry says there will be two keys: hardwork and discipline.