Swan Valley Atom Broncos Win Round One

Submitted by:
Craig Zamzow |

The Swan Valley Atom Broncos faced the Roblin Stars in round one of the best of three Parkissimo League playoffs.

The Broncos had home ice and hosted game one vs the Stars on Thursday, February 11, 2016.

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The Broncos’ Brady Burghart opened the scoring, but the Stars responded with three goals to hold a 3-1 lead after one period. The Broncos battled back in the second on a “changeup” goal by McKenna Gray, Burghart on a deft deflection of a Kaden Ferland blast from the point, and a late tying goal from Noah Kopecky to enter the second intermission tied 4-4.

Nolan Woodward put the Broncos ahead with a perfectly placed wrist shot early in the third period. The Stars would bounce back and score three consecutive goals to take a 7-5 lead. Ferland sniped a goal from the slot with just under 5 minutes left to cut the deficit in half to 7-6.

The Broncos pulled goaltender Nate Immerkar in the final minute and applied pressure in the Stars zone. The diminutive and extremely shifty Burghart corralled a loose puck, beat a defender, and deposited the tying goal with 9 seconds remaining!

The game headed to overtime and three minutes in, the Stars fired a perfectly placed shot (bar down) to pick up an 8-7 road win in overtime.

There was a dejected dressing room as the team was nursing several upper body “dings” from a rugged third period. However, the Broncos were focused on centre Eli Betcher who was carried off the ice and taken to hospital early in the third period due to a “lower body” injury that occurred in an incident along the boards.

Game 2 would be Saturday afternoon in Roblin.

A decimated lineup made the trek without three players due to injury/illness (Betcher, Kopecky, and Landon Stevens) and Gray due to a previous commitment.

The Broncos realized they would start the game with 8 skaters (including Henry Branconnier giving it a try while also suffering from the flu). They did learn early that the injury bug had also bitten one of the Stars’ top players.

The Broncos flew out of the chute as Kash Henkelman was “money” scoring two early goals to give the club some breathing room before Brady Burghart extended the lead to 3-0. The Stars got one back to cut the lead to 3-1 before the first intermission. Burghart sniped another early in the second on a feed from Kaden Ferland. Henry Branconnier had to retire for the day as the flu had worsened leaving the Broncos with 7 skaters for the last two periods.

As the Broncos tired, the Stars gained confidence scoring twice and then the tying goal in the final minute of the second period. The Broncos returned to the dressing room tied at 4-4.

An exhausted club sat quietly and soaked up as many fluids as possible between periods. Coach Betcher provided one of his memorable speeches before walking over to netminder Nate Immerkar and telling him he needed to “shut the door” in the third to extend the club’s season.

He would do just that, as he made two big saves early in the third period to keep the game even. His saves seemed to energize his drained teammates as their forecheck started to hem the Stars in their own end for extended periods. With just under 10 minutes left, Burghart picked up a turnover, that Liam McArthur’s forecheck created, and made no mistake giving the Broncos a 5-4 lead.

A minute later Henkelman converted after an incredible rush to give the club some breathing room at 6-4. Henkelman scored another on a pass from Nolan Woodward. In the final minute Bailey Hunt sealed the game with a top-shelf wrist shot for a 8-4 final.

Hunt and Crystal Zamzow played a rock solid, rugged defence. Very impressive as they had to play the entire game except for a minute each. The post-game dressing room was a combination of excitement and relief as the club began thinking about a deciding game three back home.

On Wednesday, Feb 17th the Broncos hosted the series deciding, game three in Minitonas.

Noah Kopecky opened the scoring 5 minutes in (from his usual office in the blue paint!) and the Stars tied it up with a heavy, top corner slap shot. Brady Burghart and Kopecky added goals giving the Broncos a 3-1 lead headed into the first intermission. The second period was very tight checking with the only goal going to the Stars cutting the lead to 3-2 with one period remaining.

Early in the third, Nate “The Great” Immerkar turned aside two Stars’ breakaways to preserve the lead. Six minutes into the third period a tenacious Kash Henkelman extended the lead to 4-2. With just over 7 minutes remaining, McKenna Gray got possession deep in the corner and hit a pinching Bailey Hunt in the high slot. Hunt picked the top corner with a solid wrist shot. Eli Betcher blocked a shot at his own blue line, raced 120 feet and converted a deceiving deke to seal the game with two minutes left. The Stars added a late goal for a final score of 6-3.

The Broncos advance to the Atom North Division final vs the Dauphin Invaders. Game one, of the best of three, will be in Swan River on Tuesday, February 23rd at 6:15PM. Come out and support your local youth.

There will be a special playoff promotion of a $4/admission if you bring a noisemaker!

Back Row: Liam McArthur
Middle Row: Nolan Woodward, Bailey Hunt, Crystal Zamzow, Henry Branconnier, Noah Kopecky, Kash Henkelman
Front Row: Eli Betcher, McKenna Gray, Brady Burghart
Horizontal: Nate Immerkar
Missing: Kaden Ferland, Landon Stevens