In their first home game of the year, the Swift Current Broncos quickly made the Kootenay Ice feel unwelcome in their building.
Winning 5-2, the Broncos won their fifth straight game to start the season and pushed the Ice’s losing streak to three.
The road defeat came off the heels of another 5-2 loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday and ended Kootenay’s two game Saskatchewan road trip with zero points added to the standings.
“It was a similar game to [Friday] in that I thought we were good in spurts but at the end of the night, [we] created way too many chances [for the Broncos],” said head coach James Patrick after the game. “Some of our core veteran forwards got on the wrong side of the puck were hoping for bounces [instead of] defending.”
As was the case in every Broncos win this season, their top line lead the way. Tyler Steenbergen (two goals), Aleksi Heponiemi (one goal, three assists) and Glenn Gawdin (one goal, one assist) were too much for the Ice to handle.
The multipoint-nights pushed Steenbergen and Heponiemi to the top of the league in scoring, with 18 and 17 respectively through their first five games.
Although the opening ten minutes were scoreless, Swift Current controlled the game from the opening puck drop and were finally rewarded thirteen minutes in.
Combining with Gawdin and Heponiemi, Steenbergen scored the game’s first goal by beating former teammate Bailey Brkin to open the game’s scoring
Steenbergen then got the better of Brkin again just 35 seconds into the second period after he converted on an unlucky Ice turnover.
Swift Current then took advantage of their third power play of the game, at the midway point of the frame, with defenceman Colby Sissons finding the back of the net from the top of the circle.
A few minutes later, Tanner Sidaway scored the Ice’s first goal of the game which was assisted by Loeden Schaufler, who earned his first career WHL point in his sixth game.
Early in the third period, however, Gawdin was able to regain the team’s three-goal cushion as he put in a power play marker from Sissons.Heponiemi later put the dagger in Kootenay’s heart when he beat Brkin off the rush with a perfect wrist shot.
While Brett Davis managed to score in the last five minutes, as he beat Logan Flodell with a tight-angle shot, it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback.
Instead, in the last few minutes, Barrett Sheen was handed his third minor penalty of the game after he targeted a Broncos’ player with a two-handed slash. An ensuing verbal altercation with a referee then earned him an unsportsmanlike call and a game misconduct.
Overall, the Broncos outshot the Ice 34 to 22 and were the better special team performers as well. Swift Current had two goals in five power play chances, while Kootenay went zero for three.
Several veteran players were missing from the team’s lineup again on Saturday night, with Cale Fleury continuing to serve a suspension, Martin Bodak nursing an undisclosed injury and Vince Loschiavo off for the night as a scratch.
Fleury now only has one game remaining in his three game suspension, which he received for a crosscheck last Sunday against the Edmonton Oil Kings.
After seven games, Kootenay has the second most penalty minutes in the league with 107 and Sheen leads the WHL with 27 individual minutes.
With the back-to-back losses, the Ice now have a 2-4-1-0 record and are in fourth place in the Central Division. The team’s next game is on Thursday night at home against the Red Deer Rebels (3-3-0-0) at 7 p.m.
Kootenay 0 1 1 – 2
Swift Current 1 2 2 – 5
1st Period-1, Swift Current, Steenbergen 11 (Gawdin, Heponiemi), 13:03. Penalties-Sheen Ktn (cross checking), 2:28; Barlage Sc (hooking), 7:16; Horning Sc (holding), 14:06; Sidaway Ktn (roughing), 17:41; Horning Sc (roughing), 17:41.
2nd Period-2, Swift Current, Steenbergen 12 (Heponiemi, Sissons), 0:35. 3, Swift Current, Sissons 3 (Minulin, Heponiemi), 10:44 (PP). 4, Kootenay, Sidaway 1 (Schaufler), 13:14. Penalties-Waitzner Sc (kneeing), 2:21; King Ktn (hooking), 9:28.
3rd Period-5, Swift Current, Gawdin 6 (Sissons), 3:34 (PP). 6, Swift Current, Heponiemi 2 (Elder, Stanley), 9:30. 7, Kootenay, Davis 3 (Hines, Pouliot), 15:01. Penalties-Taphorn Ktn (roughing), 3:03; Sheen Ktn (charging), 6:43; Sheen Ktn (slashing, unsportsmanlike cnd.), 16:51.
Shots on Goal-Kootenay 8-6-8-22. Swift Current 11-16-7-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Kootenay 0 / 3; Swift Current 2 / 5.
Goalies-Kootenay, Brkin 1-2-1-0 (34 shots-29 saves). Swift Current, Flodell 4-0-0-0 (22 shots-20 saves).