It was a meaningless game in the standings, but the Swift Current Broncos’ 2-1 win over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors had the feel of a playoff meeting.
The two playoff combatants squared off in a hard-hitting, fast-paced contest that had the sold out crowd of 2,890 fans at the Innovation Credit Union iplex on their edge of their seats.
Aleksi Heponiemi brought them out of their seats with 2:25 remaining in regulation when he tapped home an outstanding feed from Ryley Lindgren to give the Broncos the win.
Matt Sozanski had taken advantage of an unlucky bounce to put the Warriors ahead in the first period before Glenn Gawdin tied the game in the second period with his 26th goal for the Broncos.
The Broncos improved to 39-22-4-6, while Moose Jaw dropped to 41-21-8-1, just three points ahead of the Broncos in the East Division.
“That’s just going to set the tone for this playoff series,” said Gawdin, the team’s captain, after the game. “No game is going to be easy and obviously that one was pretty tight until the end there. Hopefully we can do that throughout the playoffs. It was a great atmosphere and a great game by us to just stay patient.”
Taz Burman continued his strong recent play with 34 saves to improve to 18-12-4-1 for the Broncos. Zach Sawchenko took the loss with 21 saves to fall to 29-14-6-1.
“We wanted to set the tone, because this is the start of what could possibly be nine games in a row against these guys,” explained Burman. “We wanted to go out there with the playoffs coming around the corner and we want to be at the top of our game. It maybe didn’t mean anything in the standings, but for us it was still an important game.”
The two teams will conclude the regular season on Saturday in Moose Jaw. Their best-of-seven opening round playoff series will begin on Friday, March 24 in Moose Jaw.