© Steven Mah
The Swift Current Broncos kept their hopes of moving up in the Eastern Conference standings alive with a 5-4 win over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors Friday.
In front of 2,561 fans at the Credit Union iplex on Fan Appreciation Night, the Broncos scored twice in the third period for their third straight come-from-behind win at home.
Captain Colby Cave put the Broncos ahead 4-3 8:08 into the third period when he walked around Tyler Brown and beat Zach Sawchenko on the partial breakaway.
Jay Merkley added an insurance goal while shorthanded into an empty net with 36 seconds left to make it 5-3. The goal proved crucial when Bryson Gore scored his second of the game with only 11 seconds left but it was too little too late for the Warriors, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
The Warriors led 2-1 after one period on goals from Brayden Point and Gore. Glenn Gawdin replied for the Broncos with his 10th goal of the season.
Merkley and Nathan Burns scored 2:01 apart in the second period to make it 3-2 Swift Current. Merkley netted his 32nd and Burns scored on the powerplay, his 26th of the season.
Sam Fioretti tied the game with 1:35 left in the period when he knocked home a rebound after Julius Honka had been taken out of the play after being hit in the mouth with a puck.
Cave put the Broncos ahead 4-3 and Merkley scored his 33rd of the season from just inside his own blueline into the empty net.
"We came in knowing we had the opportunity to move up in the standings," said Cave. "Unfortunately we looked at the scores after the game. We are looking after ourselves right now. We are finding ways to win. We have a bunch of guys chipping in, moving up in the line-up. Geordie Maguire had a great game bouncing back into his first game in a while. It was just nice to see a great team effort pull out the win."
Eetu Laurikainen improved to 24-20-1-5 with 26 saves on 30 shots for the Broncos. Zach Sawchenko took the loss with 33 saves to fall to 9-13-0-1 for Moose Jaw.
The Broncos improved to 37-25-3-6 as they are now tied with the Kootenay Ice for fifth in the Eastern Conference with 86 points, although the Ice hold the tie breaker should they remain tied.
The two teams will conclude the regular season with a rematch in Moose Jaw Saturday. Kootenay will visit the Hitmen tomorrow in Calgary.
Bronco Bits: The game was the second largest crowd this season at the Credit Union iplex after the December 27th crowd of 2,573 fans on Minor Hockey Night. Broncos' Head Coach and General Manager Mark Lamb moved into third in Swift Current Broncos history with 163 wins, passing his predecessor Dean Chynoweth. The Regina Pats got a single point in an overtime loss to Brandon to clinch the East Division title, ending the Broncos hopes of gaining home-ice advantage in the playoffs. The Broncos will finish in either fifth or sixth spot in the conference and can still play the Edmonton Oil Kings, Calgary Hitmen or Medicine Hat Tigers in the first round of the playoffs.