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Wednesday, 12 December 2012 15:12

Broncos battle, welcome adversity in B.C.

Written by  Brad Brown
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The Swift Current Broncos’ bi-annual B.C. Division road trip is a long one — this year, 4,200 kilometres in 14 days by the time they return home (via Saskatoon) on Saturday.

Add in two heartbreaking losses to start it off and an injured list numbering, at one point, half a dozen, and there’s a case to be made that this one was downright excruciating.
Head coach Mark Lamb, though, says the events of the past fortnight may also prove to be one of the best things to happen to his team this season.
That adversity, for lack of a better word, is good.
“We’ve played lot of good hockey, a lot of one goal games,” Lamb said Sunday, after a 2-1 loss the night before to the Victoria Royals. “Losing has been tough on the boys but the experience and depth we’re showing is all positive.
“The only thing that isn’t positive is the points, but we’re still in the hunt with all those other teams and we’ll be a better team for it when we get back.”
The Broncos’ misfortunes (or is it fortunes?) started Dec. 4 in Kamloops when lost forwards Josh Derko and Levi Bews to injury, then lost the game 2-1 after taking a 1-0 lead over the division-leading Blazers into the final two minutes.
The next night in Kelowna, with five forwards and their backup goalie out hurt or sick, the Broncos held a 3-1 lead late in the second period before losing defenceman Reece Scarlett to a head injury and the game 6-5.
Even with Bews’ return Dec. 7 (he had a goal and an assist as the Broncos beat the Vancouver Giants 3-1), it meant plenty of ice for the Broncos’ top prospects throughout the B.C. trip — which wrapped up Saturday with a 2-1 loss in Victoria and Tuesday with a 2-0 win against the Prince George Cougars.
Rookie forwards Zac Mackay, Denis Bosc and Justin Spagrud, along with first-year blueliners Brycen Martin, Bobby Zinkan and Brett Lernout, all saw increased roles and first-round Bantam Draft pick Glenn Gawdin made his Western Hockey League debut against Kelowna.
“Those guys have really made the most of the opportunity they’ve been given,” Lamb said of Mackay and Martin specifically. “We’ve had some bad luck with injuries, some key players that are injured and our young guys are coming in and playing the same way.”
Lamb reserved his highest praise, however, for his captain.
With 13 points on his current career-high nine-game scoring streak, Adam Lowry has put the Broncos on his back and moved himself onto the cusp of the league’s top 10 scorers.
“Unbelievable,” said Lamb. “We started out the season with Adam at centre. His play was off a little bit because he wasn’t used to the position. So we put him back on the wing and he wasn’t producing. We weren’t as tough of a matchup, so we put him back at centre and he’s looking like he’s turned into a real centreman.
“He’s growing into his position. He’s controlling the game down low, he’s controlling it offensively, he’s carrying the puck and he’s really progressing.”
The Broncos wrap up their six-game road trip tonight against the Saskatoon Blades, then host the Kootenay Ice on Sunday and Saskatoon on Tuesday to finish the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule.

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