The Swift Current Broncos played one of their best periods of the season in the third tonight against Seattle.
They were quick, physical, forcing turnovers, winning battles and going to the net. The Broncos at times had a tired Thunderbirds team on the ropes, but it wasn't sufficient to overcome a slow start in a 5-3 loss.
"(In the second intermission) we challenged them a bit," said Broncos assistant coach Brandin Cote. "I mean we were just kind of there. We were hoping we were going to get that effort right off the start because we knew they were a road weary team. They've played really well on this trip, but all those miles take a tole on you. We saw that a little bit in the third period and we had a little bit more jump and a little bit more energy... we came close a few times. It was right there, but too little, too late tonight. There's always lessons to learn for our young group... that consistency right from the start of the lineup we have to have everyone going."
Two of Swift Current's newly named official leadership group really stood our in their impact on on the game. Matthew Stanley scored twice in the third period, while new captain Tanner Nagel had a goal, a few big hits and dropped the gloves in trying to get his team fired up.
"Nagel had a big fight off the bat," Stanley said. "Got the crowd going and got the boys going. It was good. I just think if we keep our play up, help the younger guys and give them advice they can learn from the older guys."
That's the kind of effort and performance the Broncos are used to getting from some of their leaders. It's one they feel they need from a bigger selection of their roster every game.
"What Nagel and Stanley did was they just played hard," Cote said. "They don't always have the puck on their stick, but they just play the right way. They competed hard and they led the way for sure. At the same time we need more of those efforts from all our older guys. We didn't have everybody and that was unfortunate."
Seattle jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 1 and 4-1 lead after 2 as the Broncos started slow and spent too much time in their own zone. Sean Richards scored twice in pulling the Thunderbirds ahead.
"We just didn't have everyone towing the company line (in the first two periods)," Cote said. "A lot of our guys worked hard, but we didn't have enough guys. Everybody has to be ready to play ... hard by committee. Unfortunately tonight we didn't have everyone going."
Things started to turn in the second period and built to the success they had in the third.
"The first period and a half we were kind of sitting back on our toes," Stanley noted. "I didn't really like how were were playing. In the second half we were starting to get shots through to the net. We were hitting, getting pucks through... if we stick like that going into tomorrow's game against Brandon we'll be perfectly fine."
Stanley's first goal cut Seattle's lead to 4-2, but a turnover at the offensive blue line allowed Andrej Kukuca to put the game out of reach with a breakaway for a 5-2 lead.
Another goal from Stanley on a nice move in the slot to his backhand again put the pressure on and Ethan Regnier had a good chance late. That's as close as the Broncos could get.
That was Stanley's second two goal game of his career. He also struck twice in February of last year for Lethbridge in a game against Saskatoon.
The Broncos went 1 for 4 on the power play and generated some pretty consistent pressure on their chances. They didn't face a Seattle power play.
Isaac Poulter got his second straight start stopping 29 of 34 Thunderbirds shots. Cole Schwebius made 31 saves including some key stops late in the second and early in the third period to get the win.
Kye Buchanan picked up his first point in his second game in the WHL.
Tyler Smithies made his Broncos debut after being added from Moose Jaw this week and played a solid game on a line with Ethan O'Rourke and Ian Briscoe. Owen Blocker left the game early in the second period after a hit on Owen Williams and never returned.
New acquisition Tyler Lees is still out with a short term injury and Ben King is out long term for Swift Current.
The Broncos host Brandon tomorrow at 4pm. Our broadcast of Robertson Family Group Broncos Hockey is set for 3:30pm on The Eagle 94.1 FM.