Saturday, 26 January 2019

Rebuilding Broncos rally for huge OT win over Blades

Joona Kiviniemi celebrates scoring the OT winner for the Broncos.
    Tanner Nagel said a big comeback win was a great thing for the youngsters on the rebuilding Swift Current Broncos to experience.
    Nagel, who is the Broncos overage captain, is the only holdover that was a regular on Swift Current’s WHL championship winning team last season. During that run to the WHL title, Nagel got to experience many thrilling victories including a number of the comeback variety.
    Now, the Broncos are a team that has 10 players in their 17-year-old seasons and two in their 16-year-old seasons on their 23-person roster. On Saturday night at the SaskTel Centre, the youthful Swift Current side experienced a rare high in a campaign where the team has trudged along in last place in the entire WHL.
    Trailing the host Saskatoon Blades 4-2 with five minutes remaining in the third period, the Broncos roared back to pull out a 5-4 overtime victory before 3,637 spectators.
Tanner Nagel scored twice for the Broncos on Saturday night.
    In the extra session, Broncos Finnish import left-winger Joona Kiviniemi one-timed home a set up pass from rookie defenceman Alex Moar with 3.4 second remaining in the frame to deliver victory to Swift Current. The Broncos improved to 10-34-2-1 with the win.
    “We have a lot of young guys in the room, so it is great to see them push back in games where we are down,” said Nagel, who scored twice for the Broncos on Saturday. “That is what we are trying to focus on is just teaching them that you have to keep playing right until the bitter end.
    “You are never out of a game. We showed that here tonight.”
Alex Moar set up the Broncos overtime winner on Saturday night.
    Down 4-2, the Broncos comeback started when Nagel scored on the power play sniping home a shot to the low right side of the Saskatoon goal to cut the Blades edge to 4-3 with 4:39 remaining in the third period.
    Broncos head coach and director of hockey operation Dean Brockman pulled netminder Riley Lamb for an extra attacker with about three minutes remaining in the third. Swift Current kept the play bottled in the Saskatoon zone with the extra skater.
    With 1:35 remaining in the stanza, Broncos 18-year-old right-winger Owen Blocker snipped the equalizer past Blades netminder Dorrin Luding to force a 4-4 tie.
    In overtime, both sides had numerous scoring chances before Kiviniemi ended it.
The Broncos celebrate an equalizer from Owen Blocker, right.
    Lamb turned away 48 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Broncos. Luding made 19 stops to take the extra time setback in goal for the Blades, who sit third overall in the WHL with a 29-13-7 mark.
    One night earlier, the Blades dumped the Broncos 5-2 in Swift Current.
    “Any time you win it is a good day,” said Brockman, whose Broncos beat the Blades for the first time this season in six tries on Saturday. “Certainly, they out-chanced us and had a lot of shots.
    “I give our guys a lot of credit. We challenged them after (Friday) night’s game to be better and work hard and they did. That is what you do when you work hard you find ways to get success.”
Goalie Riley Lamb makes one of his 48 saves for the Broncos.
    The Blades got out to a quick start. Just 38 seconds into the contest, right-winger Max Gerlach sprung left-winger Gary Haden in on a breakaway and Haden buried his 21st of the season to give the host side a 1-0 edge.
    The Broncos evened things up a 1-1 just under three minutes later, when Nagel banged home a rebound for his first goal of the game off a shot taken by defenceman Christian Riemer.
    With 58.7 seconds remaining in the first period and Saskatoon working on the power play, Blades overage offensive defenceman Dawson Davidson scored on a point shot that just snuck under Lamb to give the host side a 2-1 edge going into the first intermission.
Dawson Davidson scored for the Blades on Saturday night.
    At the 6:04 mark of the second, the Broncos tied things up at 2-2 scoring their first short-handed goal of the campaign. The shorty came when Swift Current centre Ethan O’Rourke blocked a point shot taken by Blades 16-year-old rookie left-winger Kyle Crnkovic.
    The puck shot out to the centre ice zone, and O’Rourke tracked it down and skated into the Saskatoon zone on a breakaway. He tucked home his eighth goal of the season to get the Broncos on even terms for a short time.
    Saskatoon jumped back out in front 3-2 just under four minutes later thanks to a power-play goal coming off the stick of centre Eric Florchuk.
    Before the second period expired, left-winger Cyle McNabb potted his fifth goal of the season to give the Blades a 4-2 advantage.
    The Blades outshot the Broncos 16-4 in the third period but couldn’t prevent the Broncos comeback dramatics late in the frame and in overtime.
Ethan O’Rourke pots a short-handed goal for the Broncos.
    When Nagel scored late in the third to cut the Blades lead to one goal, Brockman hoped the comeback would indeed be on from that point.
    “This is a team where they’ve always had their backs up against the wall all year,” said Brockman. “Nobody expects us to win a game.
    “I want to give our kids a lot of credit. They were pretty resilient and stayed with it and found a way.”
    Nagel was excited about the final result.
    “Winning is awesome,” said Nagel. “It is the best feeling in the world.
    “It doesn’t matter if it is a game tonight or it is the WHL championship. A win is a win, and I love to win. Anytime you can win a game it is awesome.
Eric Florchuk (#17) had a power-play goal for the Blades.
    “Any time you can come from behind and win a game that is an even better feeling. The young guys showed resilience and the team showed resilience top to bottom. We’re feeling pretty good.”
    The Blades are off until Friday, when they travel to Regina to face the Pats at 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre.
    The Broncos return to action on Wednesday, when they host the Calgary Hitmen at 7 p.m. at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex. Nagel said Saturday’s comeback victory will be a big time help to his team going forward.
    “Any time we get the young guys going and playing hard like this, it is great to see them keep chugging along,” said Nagel. “They are learning as we go.
The Broncos celebrate their win on Saturday night.
    “I think every time we put up a good game it just helps them learn a little more.”

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