Taking one on the chin

Matthew Gourlie
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Broncos romp past Warriors after scoring four first period goals

There was a party atmosphere inside Mosaic Place Saturday night.

Swift Current Broncos defenceman Dillon Heatherington steps into Moose Jaw Warriors centre Brayden Point Saturday at Mosaic Place.

Unfortunately for the Moose Jaw Warriors it was the fans of the visiting team that were doing all of the singing.

The Swift Current Broncos gave their travelling fans plenty to shout about as they beat the Warriors 6-3 in Western Hockey League action.

Despite riding a three-game losing streak and coming off of an 8-1 loss in Brandon Friday, the Broncos hit the ice for their pre-game warm-up to a rousing ovation from a bus-load of fans who made the trip.

"I think they fired us up to be honest," said Broncos winger Jay Merkley who scored twice. "They helped right away in warm-ups. They're pretty crazy and pretty wild. I definitely think it helped get the boys fired up off the hop."

The Broncos came out flying as they took the first 11 shots of the game, scoring twice, as they completely dominated the Warriors in the early stages of the game.

"Brandon kind of handed it to us (Friday). It was a huge bounce-back game from our team. We jumbled our lines to try to give us four solid lines and I think it paid off," said Merkley. "We were just ready today. I think we were a little embarrassed by what happened (Friday). Right off the start we came out flying."

Warriors goalie Zach Sawchenko was one of the only Warriors who showed up in the early stages and he kept the score respectable. Calvin Leth and Graham Black scored on rebounds and Brett Lernout's point shot went through a crowd to give the Broncos a 3-0 lead. Merkley scored with 36 seconds left in the first period to give the Broncos all the offence they would need.

"You can't spot any team four goals. Especially a team like Swift Current," said Warriors centre Brayden Point.

"Zach played a good game. It's not his fault by any means. We should be stronger in front of the net and clear rebounds."

Sawchenko made his first start since being injured in Portland on Jan. 17. The 16-year-old did what he could to hold his team in the game as he finished with 39 saves. The Warriors were being out-shot 42-13 at one point early in the third period.

"Sawsy went in there and he battled. He played hard. He gave everything he had. He didn't wilt under a lot of pressure and a lot of breakdowns. He was rock solid and this kid just turned 16," said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers.

The Warriors were coming off of a 7-1 win in Prince Albert, but were unable to build off of one of their best games of the season.

"It was about as opposite as you can be," said Stothers of his team's play from one night to the next.

The feeling in the building was about as opposite to a home game as Moose Jaw has seen in a long time. The Warriors put the blame squarely on their own shoulders for not giving their fans any reason to be excited.

"We never gave our fans a chance to get into it," said Warriors captain Sam Fioretti who returned from a three-game suspension. "We haven't been playing good hockey at home. We appreciate the support from the people who come out. We haven't been doing ourselves any favours. It's up to us to give the fans something to cheer about. Tonight we definitely didn't do that."

Point looked like he had gotten the Warriors on the board in the second period, but he was called for goaltender interference as he batted a bouncing puck out of the air. Point was at the side of the net and behind Eetu Laurikainen when he knocked the puck in.

Merkley added a short-handed goal in the middle frame to give the Broncos a 5-0 lead after two periods.

Jack Rodewald broke up the shutout when he deflected a point shot past Laurikainen and Point scored his 26th goal of the season on the power play with 6:21 left, but the Warriors would get no closer.

Colby Cave scored a late power play goal for Swift Current before Josh Uhrich replied with 1:02 left for Moose Jaw.

Dallas Valentine had a pair of assists for the Warriors.

Laurikainen made 23 saves in goal for the Broncos as he beat the Warriors for the first time this season.

The Warriors (14-32-3-5) haven't won consecutive games yet in 2014. They will look to rebound when they host Kootenay on Tuesday.

Moose Jaw was missing defenceman Jesse Forsberg and forwards Colton McCarthy and Brandon Potomak due to injury.

Broncos forwards Bobby Zinzkan and Dakota Odgers were both suspended after an incident in the loss to Brandon. Odgers was given a one-game suspension and Zinkan was given three games.

Organizations: Western Hockey League

Geographic location: Brandon, Swift Current, Portland Prince Albert Moose Jaw

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Recent comments

  • Dick Baum
    February 09, 2014 - 10:09

    $63,000,000 building, same old story on the ice. Last good year we had was with a Dave Hunchack built team. This team seems to be out of it's league. Hope the fans will still want to buy season tickets next year or we may follow the same road as the Chillawack team. Didn't we copy their building design???