When the Humboldt Broncos take the ice, they do so with a lot of confidence in the goalies who are the last line of defence.
“There is not an issue in our crease,” Broncos head coach Ryan Smith said earlier this season. “They have been very good.”
Twenty-year-old Jack Romanuik and 17-year-old Brock Hamm have both been important contributors to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team this season. Hamm made 35 saves last week as the Broncos ended a nine-game losing streak. As of Dec. 18, the Broncos were 13-15-3-0 with one game to play before the SJHL Christmas break.
On Dec. 17, the Broncos snapped the streak with a 3-2 win over the Flin Flon Bombers at the Elgar Peterson Arena.
“Obviously it is a huge relief to get the win after nine consecutive losses. … As the losses mount,” Smith said, “you start to wonder ‘When are we going to get out of this?’”
The head coach emphasized that it was with a total team effort that the Broncos picked up their 13th victory of the season. They came from behind to do it.
“The biggest thing last night is we kept going,” Smith said. “We didn’t have any lapses. … We gritted our teeth and went to work. We were prepared to do whatever it takes.”
The Broncos head coach was pleased with his team’s defensive play. Both of Flin Flon’s goals came on powerplays. The Bombers took a 1-0 lead in the first period with a power-play goal by Joel Kocur. Flin Flon led 2-1 after the second session as Humboldt’s Gage Joel and Tanner Lishchynsky of the Bombers both scored.
In the third period, Trevor Posch and defenceman Greg Moro scored for Humboldt in the first two minutes. Brock Hamm shut out Flin Flon in the final session by turning away 12 shots.
“We just played a hard period,” Smith said.
Hamm finished with 35 saves for the game, while Simon Hofley recorded 23 saves for the Bombers.
“Brock Hamm was outstanding,” Smith said. “He made some major league saves.”
Moro also had a strong game, Smith said. The Broncos blue liner had the game winning goal, two points, four penalty minutes, and was plus three on the night.
Strength in the Crease
While Hamm and Romanuik vary in age, Smith said they are similar in how they are butterfly-style goaltenders who cut off angles, get square to the puck, and like to handle the puck. The coach emphasized that both goalies have won some games for the Broncos and kept them in others.
“They make some quite amazing saves. … We definitely have quite a lot of confidence in them,” Humboldt defenceman Greg Moro said.
On the season Hamm, who is from Saskatoon, has a team-high nine wins, a 2.68 goals against average, and a .918 save percentage.
“He is one of the bright young stars of the league,” Smith said.
The rookie has certainly impressed fans, teammates, opponents, and coaches alike.
“He is so skilled,” Broncos captain and defenceman Anthony Kapelke said. “He works so hard. He battles so hard.”
Romanuik was acquired earlier this season from his hometown Melfort Mustangs. He has four wins, a 3.08 GAA, and a .891 save percentage with the Broncos.
“He is a veteran guy,” Smith said. “You can tell. He knows the game in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.”
When asked what Romanuik brings to the team, Kapelke said, “Just having that veteran presence. … He knows what it is like going through the grind.”
The two netminders have formed a formidable tandem for the Broncos – and it seems to work well for both of them.
“Brock has benefitted from having Jack around. … I don’t know the nuts and bolts of their relationship, but I definitely see them talking all the time,” Smith said.
The Broncos were slated to wrap up the 2014 part of their season on the road against Nipawin on Dec. 19. The result was unavailable as of press time.
After the Christmas break, the Broncos hit the road. They play in La Ronge on Jan. 3 and the next night take on Flin Flon. The next game at the Elgar Peterson Arena is Jan. 6 against Kindersley.
Catching Up With
Matt Glowa (2010-2012) is working as a roofer in his hometown of Winnipeg. Glowa is waiting to apply for the Winnipeg Police Force.
During his hockey career, Glowa was a proven winner. He was part of championship teams in the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League and the Junior B Keystone Junior Hockey League before joining the Broncos. In 2012, Glowa was Humboldt’s third-leading scorer in the regular season. He helped the team win the SJHL title and compete in the national Royal Bank Cup in Humboldt.
Glowa remembers well the crazy opening minute of an RBC game against Pentiction. The Broncos won the faceoff and John Lawrence took a tough angled shot. Glowa slipped behind and scored. Glowa’s line stayed out and won the faceoff again.
“It was dumped into the right corner this time,” Glowa wrote in an Internet interview. “I was the first man in and bumped their D-man, who was 6-foot-3, from around the goal line. He went head first into the boards and I was kicked out of the game - 28 seconds into the game.”
Glowa said he remembers all of the players from that season. He is still friends with many and talks with Adam Zbitniff regularly.
Glowa spent his final junior season in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. He suited up for both Portage and Selkirk, where he was coached by Smith.