An impressive playoff run came to an end Monday in Regina when the Swift Current Broncos lost 5-1 to the Regina Pats in game seven of the Eastern Conference semi-final series.
After jumping out to a 3-1 series lead the Broncos lost their third straight game and simply seemed to run out of gas in game seven, spending vast amounts of time in the defensive zone while being outshot 43-24 by the Western Hockey League regular season champion Pats, who were playing their first home game seven in over 45 years.
The Pats took control of the game early, firing the first eight shots on goal with goals off the stick of Sam Steel and Filip Ahl. Steel found himself all alone to knock home an inviting rebound only 2:19 into regulation and Ahl took advantage of a collision between two Bronco defenseman for a breakaway goal 2:38 later.
The Broncos regrouped after a timeout and spent six minutes on the power play before end of the period. They generated plenty of scoring chances but Tyler Brown was equal to every opportunity with 10 saves in the period to keep the 2-0 lead intact through the opening stanza.
“We certainly didn’t get out to the start that we wanted to,” said head coach Manny Viveiros. “Obviously they got up and they got the momentum going. I thought if we would have capitalized maybe on a couple of power plays in the first period we could have changed things, but then we made a couple of mistakes in the second period. We simply just didn’t have it tonight for whatever reason. We just didn’t have the game that we normally had throughout this whole series against a team like that, that’s going like that, you have to be at your best. If you are not at your best you are not going to win and that was very obvious here tonight.
Steel added his second goal of the night midway through the second period when a puck fell to him in the crease and he shoveled it home. Austin Wagner made it 4-0 when he tipped home his sixth goal of the series and ninth of the postseason with 4:24 remaining in the second period.
The Broncos finally scored on the power play with the goaltender pulled in favor of the extra attacker when Conner Chaulk deflected home his second of the post-season with 5:27 left on the clock. The comeback bid was shortlived when Austin Wagner scored into en empty net 1:03 later to close the scoring with his seventh goal of the series.
Jordan Papirny took the loss with 38 saves on 42 shots to finish 7–7-0 in the post-season.
Tyler Brown had a quiet night but made the saves he needed to, 23 in total, to improve to 8-0-3 in the playoffs.
“We didn’t get that momentum changing goal, so to speak, or something to get us going again. Regina just didn’t let their foot off the gas. Every time we tried to get going they kept coming at us because they are that good,” said Viveiros.
Papirny was acquired from the Brandon Wheat Kings and the overage goaltender was a huge piece of the Broncos playoff run.
“It is obviously a little sour, obviously with the way the game and the series went with having a 3-1 lead,” he said after his final WHL game. “I think we are proud of ourselves. I think me Lindy (Ryley Lindgren) and Grahamer (Ryan Graham) should be just proud of our careers in general. Hats off to those two, they had exceptional Western League careers. We had an awesome team this year, so credit to everyone.”
“I mean it is pretty emotional obviously,” said Lindgren after the game seven loss. “It is not the way we wanted to go out, but I mean we are definitely really proud of the group we have in there, the character we showed. We didn’t come as hard as we wanted tonight and they ended up being the better team. Kudos to them and good luck to them in the rest of the playoffs.”
The Pats will now face either the Medicine Hat Tigers or Lethbridge Hurricanes. The two teams are tied at three games apiece with game seven set for Tuesday in Medicine Hat.