Riley Lamb certainly knows how to make a first impression.
In his first game with the Swift Current Broncos, the overage veteran turned aside 47 shots in leading his new team to a 4-2 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings.
"The team really came together tonight," Lamb said. "Anytime your team scores four goals you need to win that game so I'm happy I could get it done for the guys."
Lamb made several spectacular stops in securing the victory as he joined the Broncos after spending most of his 20-year-old season in the SJHL.
"I was just trying my best not to give up any weak goals and try to keep going," he noted. "The guys did a great job letting me see pucks from the outside."
It was the kind of debut that makes the players and fans feel a little more comfortable about Swift Current's goaltending situation after dealing their likely MVP Joel Hofer to Portland at the trade deadline.
"It's a little bit of re-assurance," said Broncos assistant coach Scott Dutertre. "(They have) big shoes to fill. Poulter has done a fantastic job... and putting Lamb in there and him having that kind of debut it just kind of for the people here and the guys in the dressing room it's just that little bit of re-assurance. I believe Dean called him Dominik Hasek in the intermission and I think all the guys looked at us silly because they didn't remember who that guy is."
Swift Current also had some strong performances by their veterans. Ian Briscoe and Ethan O'Rourke each had a goal and an assist, while captain Tanner Nagel had a late goal and two huge shot blocks with Brandon's net empty late in the game. He had to haul himself back up each time and was so in enough pain after the blocks that Ethan Regnier had to push him towards his bench on an ensuing line change.
"Anytime you can get blocks it's huge," Lamb said. "Nagel probably took two goals away from them by blocking those shots. He's a huge part of tonight's win."
Briscoe's quick shot off an early face-off was his first goal of the season and first since joining the Broncos to give Swift Current a 1-0 lead.
"I was just trying to be a little more offensive," Briscoe said. "Got a few opportunities and happened to put one in... we've just been working very well in the defensive zone just breaking out well and supporting. We're creating some chemistry and finding each other."
Zach Wytinck tied it up for Brandon on a blown coverage later in the period, but the Broncos were able to restore their lead when O'Rourke converted a Briscoe pass for a power play goal and a 2-1 advantage into the first intermission.
The Wheat Kings came on strong in the second and forced Dean Brockman to take his time out early to settle his team down. Brandon managed to tie the game on a fortunate bounce for them off Luka Burzan's centering feed. That was their lone power play goal on five tries.
Swift Current's penalty kill has only allowed four goals on 34 opportunities since the Christmas break and their 88.2% efficiency in that time would be the best in the league if stretched out over a whole season.
Alex Moar gave the Broncos their lead back on another power play only 1:59 later thanks to a quick shot from the top of the point through traffic. Swift Current went 2 for 3 on their man advantage and 3 for 7 over the two games this weekend.
Lamb was huge in both the second and third periods in maintaining Swift Current's lead. They were able to add some insurance when Nagel skated the out of trouble in their own zone before creating a give-and-go with Carter Chorney and scoring his 7th of the season. Nagel now has goals in back-to-back games since being named Swift Current's new captain.
The Broncos now sit at 9-30-2-1 on the season and only two points back of Kootenay to move out of last place in the Eastern Conference. They host the Ice on Tuesday.
Swift Current was still without Tyler Lees and Ben King due to injury. Lees has yet to make his debut and should be in the lineup soon. King is out longer term.
- Category: Local Sports
- Written by Shawn Mullin