The Swift Current Broncos got out to a slow start and never recovered in a crucial 4-2 loss to the host Moose Jaw Warriors Saturday.
The meeting between the top two teams in the Western Hockey League was filled with tension, but it was the Warriors who were the better team in front of a sold out crowd.
The Warriors completely dominated the first period and were rewarded with a 2-0 lead. Brandon Klatt opened the scoring when he backhanded a puck that trickled through Stuart Skinner and rested on the goal line before he swept it in.
Jayden Halbgewachs added a power play goal, his 67th goal of the season. Justin Almeida added the Warriors’ third goal in the second period, his 41st of the season.
The Broncos cut into the deficit 2:02 into the third period when Kaden Elder beat Brody Willms through the five-hole on a set-up from Aleksi Heponiemi.
The Broncos were awarded a five-minute power play moments later when Barret Sheen received a game misconduct for charging on a hit that knocked Tyler Steenbergen from the game. The Broncos were unable to capitalize despite playing five-on-three for two full minutes.
Klatt notched his second of the game with 8:57 left in regulation to end any comeback hopes.
The Broncos did score a power play goal late when Beck Malenstyn tipped home a point shot with the goaltender on the bench, even though the officials refused to allow the Broncos to add a skater on the ice.
Stuart Skinner lasted only 27:36 after allowing three goals on 21 shots to fall to 29-20-3-1. Joel Hofer replaced him and made 17 saves on 18 shots. Brody Willms improved to 35-11-1-2 with 21 saves.
The Broncos dropped three points back of the Warriors as they fell to 47-16-4-2, while Moose Jaw improved to 50-15-1-2.
The Broncos are back at home on Wednesday to host the Saskatoon Blades in their third last game of the regular season. They will conclude the regular season with two games against the Regina Pats.