One game post-trade deadline, and the Swift Current Broncos’ roster moves appear to be working thus far.
The south Saskatchewan squad skated to a 4-0 shutout road win over the Prince Albert Raiders Friday night in Western Hockey League action from the Art Hauser Centre.
Newly acquired goalie Stuart Skinner backstopped Swift Current to the 29-save win. He and former Lethbridge Hurricanes teammates Tanner Nagel and Giorgio Estephan were acquired by Swift Current in a trade announced Tuesday by the two teams.
Skinner spent the first three and a half seasons of his WHL career in Lethbridge, prior to the trade.
He, Nagel and fellow newcomers Andrew Fyten and Josh Anderson all had games worthy of recognition, despite being held off the score sheet, according to Broncos head coach and general manager Manny Viveiros.
“They did a lot of good things away from the puck, too. Those guys really brought energy to our hockey game,” he said of the latter three.
Swift Current jumped out to a quick two-goal lead shortly after the eight minute mark of the first period. Glenn Gawdin collected his own rebound in front of goalie Ian Scott, and he slid it into the open net.
Almost 45 seconds later at 8:47, Kaden Elder used a wrist shot to beat Scott on his glove side and put his team up 2-0.
“I thought that for the first ten minutes, we kind of stood around and watched,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said after the game.
The Raiders held the Broncos off the score board for the next 20 minutes, until Swift Current defenceman Colby Sissons fired a quick wrist shot to beat Scott blocker side at 13:23 of the second period.
“In the second ten minutes (of the first period), it was much better. The second period I thought was even, and the third period I thought we outplayed them,” he said, underscoring three posts that Raiders shooters hit during the second and third periods.
Gawdin added an empty net goal with less than three minutes to go in the game after Habscheid pulled Scott.
“They came out hard, and they were playing quick. And they’ve got a lot of depth and older players. (The Broncos) are partly responsible for that (the Raiders’ first 10 minutes of play).
“But we kind of watched a little bit. We’d have time with the puck, and we’d just get rid of it. And it just seemed like we were nervous,” Habscheid explained.
“After we convinced ourselves that we’re a pretty good team and we can play with them, we played. We probably outplayed them for the rest of the game.”
The Broncos were able to hold off the Raiders’ rush and their mounting shot count thanks to stubborn, stingy play through the neutral and defensive zones.
The likes of Anderson and fellow defenceman Sahvan Khaira used their physical play and systematic positioning around Skinner’s crease to foil most of the Raiders’ offensive puck cycling and momentum gained from the rush.
“We have a lot of veteran guys that have been around the league, and they just know their way around the defensive zone. Knowing where the spots are makes it a lot easier,” Khaira said.
Given the five new players Swift Current acquired over the last week via trade, the third-year Bronco said simplicity was key for the new-look team’s first game together.
“I think we gelled real nice and real quick. It was a fun game to have a complete team and new guys,” Khaira said.
The Raiders (15-19-6-2) next play on Saturday night at home against the WHL’s first place team, the Moose Jaw Warriors (35-6-1-2). Game time is 7 p.m.