Wednesday, 04 December 2013 11:23

Less than a festive mood for the Broncos heading into December

Written by  Brad Brown
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Brett Lernout was not happy during the Red Deer game last weekend. Brett Lernout was not happy during the Red Deer game last weekend. Photo by Matthew Liebenberg

All the Swift Current Broncos probably want for Christmas is Coda Gordon’s two front teeth.

Assuming of course that means the rest of him will follow along.
Gordon’s value to the Swift Current Broncos seemed crystal clear before he was injured in a Nov. 19 game against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
He had a team-leading 33 points and plus-15 rating. He was on pace for a career-high 35 goals and had 10 multi-point games to his credit. He’d come into the season a much-improved skater and was arguably the Broncos’ best forward at even strength — the perfect setup man for linemates Colby Cave and Connor Sanvido.
And then he got hurt, suffering a lower-body injury in the first period against Brandon that could keep him out of the lineup until after Christmas.
Without him, the Broncos could only manage one more goal against the defensively-impotent Wheat Kings and had to settle for a single point thanks to a shootout loss.
The next night — albeit minus four regular forwards — the Prince Albert Raiders needed just one goal to win, making the Broncos victims of P.A.’s first shutout of the year.
Nov. 29, with Graham Black sidelined as well, Swift Current’s top line had Colby Cave centering bottom-six rookies Cavin Leth and Glenn Gawdin and the Calgary Hitmen predictably skated away with a 3-1 win.
And then there was Saturday’s game when the Broncos outshot Red Deer 19-4 in the first period, dominated the Rebels in every facet of the game and still were left to eke out a 4-3 victory.
Scoring four times on Patrik Bartosak, the WHL’s reigning goalie of the year, would normally be a pretty successful nighton the town. Saturday, it left something to be desired.
Black hasn’t scored since Gordon went down. Neither has Sanvido, who himself was on pace for a career-best 33 goals at the time.
(As a point of reference, Sanvido hadn’t scored more than 15 in any of his three full seasons prior to this one.)
As a team, the Broncos are scoring 2.5 goals per game without Gordon. They were scoring 3.67 per game with him in the lineup.
The penalty kill has suffered too, going from 79.8 per cent efficiency to 63.6 per cent since Gordon got hurt.
There are a dozen reasons why Cave is, and should be, the captain but it’s become clear that Gordon is the straw that stirs the drink in Swift Current and for the Broncos his return can’t come soon enough.
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It’s hard to imagine a Team Canada entry at the World Junior Hockey Championship without Dillon Heatherington … in 2014-15.
The Swift Current Broncos’ top blueliner won’t even be given a chance to make the cut this year as his name was not among the invites that Hockey Canada announced Monday will attend its selection camp for the upcoming world juniors.
As an 18-year-old, Heatherington was facing an uphill climb to make the team anyway but may have had an outside shot in a larger camp after serving on the top pairing for Canada’s gold medal team at this year’s world under-18 championship.
He also played two games for Canada at a summer evaluation camp tournament in Lake Placid, N.Y. and two more for Team WHL in two Super Series contests against Russia last month.
But Hockey Canada’s decision to cut selection camp to 25 players from the traditional 40 left a number of high-end players out in the cold.
Other top defencemen who won’t be part of Team Canada this year include Madison Bowey of the Kelowna Rockets, Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Darnell Nurse of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Heatherington leads all Broncos defencemen this year with 22 assists and is second to Finnish rookie Julius Honka among blueliners with 24 points.
Nov. 29 - SC 1 vs. CAL 3
Noteworthy: The Broncos played this game with 11 forwards, missing Coda Gordon, Graham Black and Justin Spagrud from their lineup … Eetu Laurikainen made 40 saves but Glenn Gawdin’s third goal of the season was not enough offence as Swift Current fell to Calgary for the third time in as many games this season.
Nov. 30 - SC 4 vs. RD 3
Noteworthy: Dillon Heatherington scrambled Red Deer forward Rhyse Dieno’s eggs with a thunderous open-ice hit as Dieno admired his own neutral-zone pass. A wobbly Dieno eventually made his way to the Rebels’ dressing room but returned for the second period and scored a shorthanded goal late in the frame to move the Rebels within one entering the third … Jay Merkley had two goals for the Broncos, including the game winner just 31 seconds after Dieno assisted on Conner Bleackley’s game-tying goal.
Record (as of Tuesday): 17-11-0-3, 37 points (1st division, 2nd conference).
People who follow Brad Brown on Twitter @saskawhat smell 20 per cent better than those who don’t. #science #justkidding #butseriously

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