An undermanned Swift Current Broncos squad suffered a 3-1 loss to the visiting Spokane Chiefs on Saturday.
The Broncos went into the game without five 19-year-old skaters and 18-year-old defenseman Jordan Evans before losing defenseman Tanner Muth in the opening minutes. The Chiefs, playing their sixth game in nine days, simply wore down the Broncos, firing 14 shots in the first period, 17 shots in the second period, and 19 more in the third.
Steven Kuhn netted the game winner 14:05 into the third period when he shoveled a lose puck past Austin Smith on the Chiefs' 46th shot of the game.
Smith was the story for the Broncos as he made his first Western Hockey League start but dropped to 0-3 despite making 47 saves.
"I felt pretty good off the bat, I was a little nervous for the first start in the dub," said Smith, 17. "It was good to face a few shots in the first and get it under my belt. I felt a little bit more comfortable going into the second and the third and then went from there"
Tyler Johnson added an empty netter to seal the win and a 3-2-1-0 record for the Chiefs on their East Division road swing.
Collin Valcourt opened the scoring 2:27 into the second period when he banged in a rebound for his second goal of the season.
Cody Eakin tied it 1-1 at the 14:21 mark of the second period when Brad Hoban patiently waited on a two-on-one break before feeding Eakin to knock it into the open net.
James Reid had a quiet night in goal as he made 20 saves to improve to 8-6 on the season.
Swift Current dropped to 10-10 with the loss as they fell to 5-6 on home ice this season. Spokane improved to 8-8-1-0 in the win.
Graeme Craig, 17, was one of the defensemen left to try and answer the bell without Muth, Evans and Joel Rogers on the blueline. "I thought that we did not play our best hockey, not at all actually," he said. "A few guys were tired but that is no excuse. That third period we were probably completely playing in our own end. It wasn't our best effort and we have to regroup and get ready for Portland here."
The Broncos will be back on the ice Tuesday when they host the league leading Portland Winterhawks.