Eetu Laurikainen made 36 saves as the Swift Current Broncos beat he Calgary Hitmen 3-1 on Friday.
The win gave the Broncos a 3-1 series win over a Hitmen team that could be a first round playoff opponent for Swift Current.
Dillon Heatherington had 2 assists for the Broncos, while Graham Black, Adam Lowry and Coda Gordon scored their goals. The Broncos shut Calgary down in the final 40 minutes despite being outshot 19-3 in the second period.
“His movement is very good in the crease,” said Broncos goaltending coach Derek Purfield. “He takes away the middle when he needs to. He reads the play well, he reads the guy's body language and he doesn't commit too early... he stays on his feet as long as he can.”
Purfield continues to be impressed by Laurikainen's poise under pressure.
“He's a rock mentally,” Purfield added. “He doesn't get rattled that often. Even if he gives up a goal he bounces right back and makes that next big save that we need him to make.”
Black opened the scoring at the end of Swift Current's first power play by launching his 23rd of the year over Chris Driedger's blocker. The Hitmen evened the score 29 seconds later when Victor Rask deflected in a Brooks Macek centering pass.
The Broncos pulled ahead late in the period when Lowry deflected in a Heatherington point shot for his 41rst goal of the season. Gordon's 16th extended the lead with only 18 seconds left in the first. It was Gordon's first goal in 13 games and first since the last time the Broncos played Calgary.
Penalties got the Broncos some trouble in the second period as they were down 5-3 and 4-3 at different times. Laurikainen was sharp as the Broncos escaped the period still up 3-1. Swift Current was sharper in the third period as they only allowed 8 shots on goal and limited Calgary's high quality chances.
“The second period was really about us bending but not breaking,” said Broncos Assistant Coach Darren Evjen. “We had a lot of penalties, 4 on 3, 5 on 3, tough situations but we really showed some character there in... not giving them anything.”
Swift Current went 1 for 2 on the power play, while holding Calgary to 0 fo 5. The Hitmen are 0 for 12 on the man advantage against the Broncos this season.
The win combined moved the Broncos into a tie with Medicine Hat for 6th place in the Eastern Conference. Both 8th place Kootenay and 9th place Lethbridge lost, placing them 3 and 7 points back of Swift Current respectively.
The Broncos are in Red Deer on Saturday night. Swift Current is 7 points back of the Rebels and Prince Albert Raiders for 4th in the conference.
You can hear the game on The Eagle 94.1 FM with The New Pioneer Co-op Home Centre Broncos Hockey at 8pm.
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