Wednesday, 26 February 2014 14:43

Big win over Red Deer gets team back on track

Written by  Brad Brown, A Bard’s Eye View
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If you weren’t awake to see or hear it, by 9 or 10 a.m. Sunday you probably knew what had happened.

The talented favourite, struggling to score and not playing particularly well, taking on an extremely dangerous opponent, only the slightest of underdogs.
A superstar forward busting an untimely scoring slump, key contributions from an undervalued role player, clutch goaltending, and thousands of hockey fans in Swift Current going to bed happy.
Crosby and Kunitz and Price ... Nope.
Coda Gordon scored his first goal in eight games, Andrew Johnson sniped his sixth and seventh goals of the season — including the game winner — and backup goalie Landon Bow stopped 31 shots as the Broncos rallied to beat the hometown Red Deer Rebels 5-3 Saturday night.
No one will mistake the game for a masterpiece on par with Canada’s gold-medal win earrrlllyyy Sunday morning.
Broncos head coach Mark Lamb said as much when he told the Red Deer Advocate “we’re very happy to get on the bus, get out of here and go home.”
Yet its importance cannot be understated.
It was critical to the Broncos — all 23 goals in their last nine games of them — for Gordon to end his longest scoring drought of the season.
Bow stood tall in the biggest game of his young career.
And for a team that has shown only the smallest traces of confidence since mid-December, it may come to represent the turning point of its season.
Early in the season when things were going well, rallying from two or three goals down against lesser opponents — as they did against Moose Jaw and Vancouver — should have been cause for concern.
Saturday, having won just 10 of their last 28, coming back from down 3-1 against the Rebels should almost have earned them a Chaplin Street parade.
It was a desperately-needed sign of life for the Broncos, who had almost everything possible go wrong for them Friday.
Medicine Hat, Regina, Red Deer, Kootenay and Prince Albert all won while the Broncos lost 4-1 to Edmonton.
Saturday morning they faced a scenario in which a loss that night could have meant a mere two-point cushion on ninth place in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.
Instead they gutted out a win that kept them six points on the right side of the playoff hunt and six back of the division lead.
It wasn’t pretty but at this point pretty doesn’t count for much.
Greasy goal-line gaffes (a la Johnson’s second goal?) ... they’ll take ’em.
Bad turnovers, as on Gordon’s first of the night? Bring ’em on.
Credit too Lamb’s faith in his veterans. He could have punished Johnson after a turnover that gifted Edmonton the insurance goal Friday.
Instead, Johnson saw big minutes, including a number of late-game shifts defending the lead alongside the team’s best, while claiming his fifth career two-goal game.
It all added up to a gold-medal result on a night when silver would have been disastrous.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
The Broncos (30-24-2-6 excluding Wednesday’s play) hosted the East Division-leading Regina Pats (35-22-3-3) on Wednesday and are in the Queen City tonight to wrap up the home-and-home set.
They’ll continue their playoff push with a three-game homestand Saturday against Lethbridge, Sunday against Brandon and Tuesday against the conference-leading Oil Kings of Edmonton.
Follow Brad Brown on Twitter @saskawhat

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