Earlier this month, Swift Current Broncos forward Ethan Regnier put together the most impressive night of WHL career against his hometown team.
During a game against the Prince Albert Raiders on Dec. 4 at the Credit Union iPlex, the 18-year-old had an assist on a first period goal on Tanner Nagel and fired a shot by Ian Scott with 1:44 to go in regulation to tie the contest up at two.
He would then score the only goal in the shootout as the Broncos stunned the top-ranked Raiders by a score of 3-2 and ended their 19-game win streak in the process.
“That was a pretty special night for sure,” Regnier said. “To be able have a game like that on home ice against a team like Prince Albert that is so deep with talent this year was pretty awesome.”
Last season, Regnier was part of a talented team with the Broncos as they won their third Ed Chynoweth Cup and their first since 1993.
With many players graduating or being traded from the team since then, along with an entire new coaching staff in place, the Broncos found themselves at the bottom of the league standings heading into a home-and-home series with the Raiders this weekend.
“There’s obviously been a lot of changes here but it’s also given guys a chance to step and be in more prominent roles,” Regnier said.
“We had a bit of a slow start as it took us a bit to get used to one another, but I think your starting to see a lot of improvement from our team and there’s lots of room to grow as we head into the second half.”
After recording eight points in 56 games last year and only suiting up for three contests in the playoffs, although he did play in two of the three round-robin games the Broncos took part in at the Memorial Cup, Regnier has increased his numbers this year as he sits tied for fourth in team scoring with 11 points in 31 games.
“I didn’t have a lot of ice time last year but I’ve been able to play quite a bit more this season and have some more opportunities,” Regnier said.
“I think the biggest improvement in my game as been with my defensive play. I’ve spent a lot of time working with the coaches and watching video to get help in that end of the ice, and I feel a lot better out there now.”
With just a handful of players back from the 2018 league champions, Regnier has also found himself moving into a leadership role on the roster.
“I was able to learn a lot from being around Glenn (Gawdin) and Tyler (Steenbergen) last year and seeing how they conducted themselves both on and off the ice,” Regnier said.
“I got see on a daily basis just what it took to be a leader in the room and hopefully I can help some of the younger guys out here along the way.”
As the Broncos prepare for the holiday break, the team’s main goal is to continue to improve as they look towards making a run to the post-season in 2020.
“Obviously we’d love to make a push this year but we know that it’s going to be a bit of a challenge,” Regnier said. “We have a lot of guys coming back next year, so we’re looking to get as many wins as we can and build a good base for the future.
“Our coaching staff has stressed to us that we’re going to be winning game through hard work and not on skill. There’s a lot of guys on this team that lead by example and I think you’ll see that mesh well with the young talent that’s in our locker room.”
The Raiders will be without captain Brayden Pachal for both games this weekend, as he was given a two game suspension for supplemental discipline from Wednesday’s matchup with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Following a hit on Trey Fix-Wolansky in the first period, Pachal received a four-minute double minor for high sticking during a post-whistle scrum with Matthew Robertson.
The provincial rivals have split their two meetings this year, as the Raiders won 6-2 at the Art Hauser Centre on Nov. 9 and the Broncos prevailed in a 3-2 shootout affair at the Credit Union iPlex on Dec. 4.
After a 4-3 home win over the Regina Pats on Wednesday night, the Broncos improved their record to 6-23-1-1 and are now just three points back of the Pats for fifth place in the East Division.
On Thursday, the Broncos dealt forward Andrew Fyten to the Edmonton Oil Kings in exchange for a conditional fifth round selection in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
The 20-year-old from Sundre, Alta. had 17 points in 27 games this year for the Broncos, with whom he won a WHL title with this past spring.
That same day, the Broncos signed a deal with Prince Albert Mintos forward Dawson Springer, who they acquired from the Everett Silvertips earlier this month.
The Rocanville product, who could make his debut for the Broncos Saturday, has 19 goals this year to sit in a tie for first place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League with Cole Sillinger of the Regina Pat Canadians.
In addition to Regnier, Prince Albert’s Alex Moar is expected to be in the lineup for both contests this weekend for the Broncos
The blueliner has picked up two assists in 15 contests for the team after being acquired in a trade from the Silvertips.
Broncos forwards Eric Houk and Carter Chorney are both out until after the Christmas break due to injuries.
World Junior Update
The Belarus national junior hockey team, which features Prince Albert Raiders teammates Aliaksei Protas and Sergei Sapego, are no longer in control of their own destiny at the 2018 IIHF Division I World Juniors in Fussen, Germany.
Following a 5-1 loss to the tournament hosts on Thursday afternoon, Belarus are in second place in the six-team round-robin event on nine points, which has them two markers back of Germany.
In order to finish first in the tournament and earn a spot in next year’s World Juniors in the Czech Republic, Belarus will need to win in regulation over Latvia and have Germany lose to France on Saturday.
Protas and Sapego were both held off of the scoresheet Thursday.
Dominik Bokk, a St. Louis Blues prospect that was drafted by the Raiders in the 2017 CHL Import Draft, had a goal and an assist in the win.
Meanwhile, Raiders goaltender Ian Scott and forward Brett Leason were still in the hunt for a spot on Canada’s World Junior team after the first round of cuts were made Thursday night.
Following a 5-3 loss to a team made up of players from U Sports in Victoria, Hockey Canada parted ways with forwards Ty Dellandrea (Flint Firebirds) and Raphael Lavoie (Halifax Mooseheads), along with blueliners Calen Addison (Lethbridge Hurricanes) and Cameron Crotty (Boston Terriers).
Scott made 27 saves for U Sports in the contest, as Canada split goaltending duties between Michael DiPietro (Ottawa 67’s) and Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds).
Leason, who was named to the 2019 CHL Top Prospects Game earlier in the day, did not suit up for the scrimmage.
Canada is expected to make their final cuts Friday night following a third and final scrimmage.
- Moose Jaw vs. Regina – 7 p.m.
- Brandon vs. Saskatoon – 7 p.m.
- Kelowna vs. Calgary – 8 p.m.
- Kamloops vs. Kootenay – 8 p.m.
- Medicine Hat vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
- Prince George vs. Victoria – 9 p.m.
- Everett vs. Vancouver – 9:30 p.m.
- Spokane vs. Seattle – 9:30 p.m.