Glenn Gawdin scored a hat trick as the Swift Current Broncos overcame a bizarre, penalty filled game to beat Kootenay 5-3.
“Different game for sure,” Gawdin said. “It's something we've been kind of going through adversity wise. The refs aren't always going to be on our side so we've just got to focus on what we can do. Just stick with our game. I don't how many penalties, I don't know how many of them were penalties or not penalties. When that happens you've just got to stay composed and focused. I thought we did a pretty good job of that today and it ended up winning us a game.”
The Broncos found themselves in serious penalty trouble early and often in the game. By the early stages of the second period power plays favoured Kootenay by a 6-1 margin.
“Sometimes you can just build off that,” noted Broncos Associate Coach Ryan Smith. “You can use that as your focus just to kill a penalty... as the penalties mounted the problem with that is now you're limiting the guys that you can use. Guys play those role so you're taxing those guys and at the same time some guys aren't getting out there. It takes a lot of guys out of the game and forces other guys to play some heavy minutes. I applaud our guys. We lost a little focus at times, got a little upset with the calls, but responded well with our actions on the ice.”
There were moments at that stage down 3-2 where emotions started to get the better of the Broncos. They managed to contain that and push their way towards a victory.
“Your mind can definitely run away,” Gawdin said. “After last night's (loss in Lethbridge) we've been talking a lot that we really needed this game and needed those two points. I think that was the main focus.”
The teams traded goals in the first period as Kootenay opened the scoring on a Brett Davis goal at the end of a 5 on 3. Swift Current answered as Artyom Minulin converted a one-timer on the power play for his 11th of the season.
Gawdin scored his first of the game going hard to the net on a rebound of a Max Patterson shot for a 2-1 lead. All three of his goals came as the captain got in tight on Ice goaltender Duncan McGovern.
“We've been getting shots but we haven't had the traffic there,” Gawdin noted. “Personally I'm just trying to get there. Tonight that's where the goals happened. Personally and for the team that has been the focus. Tonight it worked for me.”
That traffic was something the Broncos had emphasized especially after the game in Lethbridge.
“We wanted to get pucks and people to the net,” Smith said. “Just getting pucks through is the first thing and then getting the rebounds and getting a screen. Glenn's goals were all a product of that. What a winning goal Sissons gets it through and Glenn is there on the doorstep as he pays the price for the win.”
The second period started with more penalty trouble for the Broncos who killed off a 5 on 3 before another penalty led to Davis' second of the night and a 3-2 Ice lead. With the Broncos showing some frustration Skinner stepped up with a couple huge saves including a Colton Veloso breakaway. In total Skinner made 36 saves to earn the win.
“He was very good tonight,” Smith said. “He bounced back as well. I'm sure he felt bad after last night's game in Lethbridge against his old giving up four goals, but that's what a pro does, that's what a veteran does is he bounces back the next night. When we needed him the most he was there. His rebound control was outstanding, his focus, he played the puck well... Stu was bang on tonight. He was really good.”
Gawdin tied the game late in the second period deflecting in a Matteo Gennaro shot.
They got in more penalty trouble early in the third period as they were accessed a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct followed by a hook ana Giorgio Estephan unsportsmanlike misconduct. The penalty kill came up strong and opened the door for Gawdin to convert the rebound of a Sissons shot for the eventual game winner.
Here's my quick video recap of a weird and wild game in Cranbrook as the @SCBroncos beat Kootenay 5-3 on the strength of a Glenn Gawdin hat trick, 4 assists from Sissons & 36 saves by Stuart Skinner. pic.twitter.com/iVLafyauXT— Shawn Mullin (@shawnmullin) February 4, 2018
After the goal Gawdin ended up in a scrum with McGovern. The Kootenay goaltender was assessed a match penalty on the play as he appeared to kick at Gawdin and strike him with his blocker. Gawdin received a four minute penalty for a spear on the play and wound up with a total of eight minutes in penalties to go along with his hat trick.
Sissons then collected his fourth assist of the game setting up Gennaro's 33rd goal of the season for some needed insurance.
“The play he makes to Gennaro on the fifth goal there's only a hand-full of guys in the league that will make that play,” Smith said. “He's got offensive instincts that are in his back pocket when he needs them, but he defended well tonight... he moved the puck up, he got pucks through and what a special play on the fifth goal.”
The Broncos went 1 for 5 on their man advantage, while holding Kootenay to 2 for 8. Swift Current moves to 37-13-3-1 on the season and remains five points back of Moose Jaw for top spot in the WHL.
Now they have six days off before hosting Prince Albert on Friday. It's the kind of time to practice they haven't had since adding five new players at the trade deadline.
“This is a big week of practice and prep,” Smith said. “Getting some guys back hopefully... and getting the new guys a little more on board with what we're doing. We got some time to work on our systems, work on ourselves, bring the group together and a big weekend coming up with a couple home games. It's all positive after a really negative start to the weekend last night ending on a positive.”
That's something the players are looking forward to as well.
“It's huge we haven't really had this kind of time,” Gawdin said. “Especially since our schedule has been so busy. It will be nice to get back into practice and routine and kind of recover from our schedule that we've had lately. It's going to be a good week for us and we are going to make the most of it.”
The Broncos are hopeful the weekend off and some time before their next action will help them get Aleksi Heponiemi, Sahvan Khaira and Kaden Elder back from their injured list.
Swift Current hosts Prince Albert on Friday, Brandon on Saturday and visits the Raiders on Sunday afternoon.