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Wednesday, 19 December 2012 15:17

Broncos beat Blades, Ice: look for fresh start

Written by  Brad Brown
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At one end of the rink, Swift Current Broncos’ captain Adam Lowry capped a natural hat trick.

At the other (the lonely end of the rink) Broncos’ Landon Bow put the finishing touches on a 20-save shutout — the first of his Western Hockey League career.
The 4-0 home win Sunday over the Kootenay Ice was a good start for the Swift Current Broncos as they set out to disable the repeat button on the first half of their season. Tuesday they followed up with a 3-1 win over the Saskatoon Blades.
“We had great offence, great defence and we were just an unstoppable force out there,” Bow, who made his first start since going down injured Dec. 1 against the Brandon Wheat Kings, said of Sunday’s win.
“Coming back from an injury and being able to pull a shutout, it feels really good.”
Twenty of the Broncos’ first 36 games — concluded with Dec. 14’s 4-3 loss to the Blades — were decided by one goal. Swift Current won five of them.
With six extra goals over those 36 games, the Broncos (16-17-3-2) could have turned three of those losses into wins and been a comfortable fifth-place team in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, they sit seventh, five points up on a team with three games in hand.
It’s not that the Broncos want to turn the page entirely on the first half of the year. They just know they’re so close to being so much better.
Six goals.
“We’ve been in every game pretty much,” said Lowry. “I know there’s been five or six where we haven’t been very close but other than that … the rest have been one-goal games, and if you look at that moving forward we just need to learn how to turn those one-goal games around in our favour.”
Lowry’s certainly been doing his part to help. Playing his 200th career WHL game, the 19-year-old left-winger-turned-centre-turned-winger-then-centre-again notched his third three-goal effort of the season.
He added two more Tuesday, extending his career-high point streak to 12 games and his career-high goal streak to seven — now the longest active streak in the WHL.
In fact, 12 of Lowry’s 23 goals for the entire season have come in the past seven games alone.
“The first 20-or-so games I just felt like I was getting my game back and I was just getting comfortable and catching up to where I’d left off last year,” said Lowry. “I know … I’d missed a large chunk of last year and I feel like now I’m starting to play with the confidence that a 19-year-old should be playing with.”
Swift Current’s young goalies are also displaying the confidence of much older players in the absence of starter Eetu Laurikainen.
In the four games since Laurikainen left for Finland’s World Junior Hockey Championship selection camp, the Broncos have two shutout wins. One for Bow and one for third-stringer Steven Myland.
Sunday’s blanking was a bit of closure for Bow, who was perfect through 17 minutes Dec. 1 before leaving after getting run over by Brandon’s Alessio Bertaggia. Laurikainen came on in relief to finish the shutout, but both players were also shut out as the whitewash was credited to the team only.
“Eetu’s played as well as you could have asked out of a starting goalie but, having those two guys come in and play as well as they have, it’s allowed our forward group and our defensive group to play a little looser and play a little more free I guess,” said Lowry.
“We’re not giving up a lot of key chances, but our goalies are there when they need to make a couple key stops.”

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