Broncos ride big 1st period to victory vs. Raiders

Swift Current Broncos forward Kaden Elder follows the puck against the Prince Albert Raiders during November 2017 WHL action from P.A. -- Evan Radford/Daily Herald

The Swift Current Broncos jumped out to an early four-goal lead and never looked back in their 5-1 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Friday night Western Hockey League action from the southwest Saskatchewan city.

Broncos captain Glenn Gawdin set the tone early, scoring 22 seconds into the game after an errant puck-clearing attempt by Raiders goalie Curtis Meger, who got the start in net for P.A.

The Broncos’ 20-year-old centreman kept it going for his team 11 minutes later, sniping a wrist shot goal top-shelf on Meger’s left glove side at 11:25 of the opening frame.

The goal was Gawdin’s 99th point of the year. He’s now tied with Moose Jaw’s Brayden Burke for first in the WHL in points scored this season.

Playing the role of perennial momentum-killers, the Broncos extended their lead to three goals 14 seconds later. Trade-week pick-up Giorgio Estephan took a pass from Beck Malenstyn on Meger’s wide side and deposited the puck into the open net.

Malenstyn rounded out the first-period scoring with a late power play goal to put his team up 4-0 after 20 minutes of play.

Kaden Elder topped off the scoring for Swift Current in the second period at 1:43.

Elder moved into Meger’s left faceoff circle and took a pass from Aleksi Heponiemi. He fired the puck wide-side on the P.A. netminder for the goal and a 5-0 lead.

Raiders forward Justin Nachbaur managed to get his team on the board in the second period. He backhanded a rebound past a sprawled-out Stuart Skinner at 13:58.

The Broncos and Raiders then skated to a scoreless third period for the final 5-1 Swift Current win.

Prince Albert head coach Marc Habscheid said Gawdin’s early goal to start the game got his team on its heels. As the home team continued scoring, that put the Raiders in a chase-type scenario, he said.

“It’s tough. You chase the game, and it’s a big hill to climb, so we stubbed our foot tonight. But we’ll forget about it and move on. We’re not gonna dwell on this. It wasn’t our best effort. We were due for one of these, and now we move on.”

He highlighted the fact that after the first period, the Raiders held the Broncos to a single goal on 21 total shots through two periods, a positive point defensively for the team.

Skinner stopped 29 of 30 Raiders’ shots, while Meger saved 30 of 35 shots from the Broncos.

The loss was the Raiders’ second consecutive game versus the Broncos where they were outscored by four goals; the Broncos skated to a 4-0 win in Prince Albert on Jan. 12.

The Raiders (22-21-9-2) are next in action tomorrow night in Saskatoon against the Blades (26-26-2-1), who lost to the the Brandon Wheat Kings 6-3 on Friday night.

The Raiders are back in action at home on Sunday afternoon for a rematch with the Broncos at 4 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.