Broncos let third-period lead slip away

Spencer Bast drove to the net against goaltender Jordan Papirny and defenseman Colby Sissons (left) during a 3-2 Warriors win March 25. Southwest Booster photo by Steven Mah

The Swift Current Broncos missed an opportunity to take a stranglehold in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series Saturday against the Moose Jaw Warriors. They led 2-1 heading into the third period but allowed two unanswered goals as the Warriors tied the series 1-1.

The Broncos scored the opening goal for a second straight game when MacKenzie Wight shoveled home a lose puck to conclude a lengthy goal-crease scramble.

MacKenzie Wight celebrates his first WHL playoff goal.
Southwest Booster photo by Steven Mah

The Warriors ended their goalless drought in the middle stanza when Branden Klatt tipped home a Luka Burzan feed to tie the game 1-1. The Broncos replied only 3:01 later right after a power play expired and Lane Pederson fed a beautiful cross-ice feed to Tyler

Steenbergen, who one-timed the puck past a helpless Zach Sawchenko for a 2-1 lead after two periods.

Thomas Foster tied the game again for the Warriors 5:07 into the third period with a wraparound goal. The Warriors thought they had taken the lead with 8:44 remaining when Matt Sozanski’s point shot floated into the top corner, but it was ruled that Brett Howden had made incidental contact with netminder Jordan Papirny.

Brayden Burke made it 3-2 Warriors when he picked up a loose puck on the rush and fired it home with 4:11 remaining in regulation.

Papirny took the loss with 31 saves on 34 shots, while Sawchenko made 34 saves.

“I thought we played really well,” said Broncos head coach Manny Viveiros. “It was a really good game. I think they got a little bit of puck luck in certain situations. We were a little bit sloppy with our puck decisions a couple of times. As far as what went wrong I can’t really say a whole lot because we battled. They are going to give us chances, they are going to get scoring chances, and we had some really good scoring chances too. The game could have went either way.”

“For sure we could have been more physical,” added Wight. “I think they played a crazy game. It’s playoff hockey. It’s fast and it can go both ways and it’s just a matter of the puck-bounce. I think we played phenomenal out there and we just need to keep playing the way we are playing.”

The series will shift back to Swift Current for games three and four on Tuesday and Wednesday.