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Special teams key to Humboldt Broncos' strong results

As of Sunday, the Broncos was 28-10-0-0. The Broncos were sixth in power play efficiency at 20.8 per cent. The team boasted the second-best penalty kill in the league – operating at 88.8 per cent.
Humboldt Broncos 2021-22 Rayce Ramsay
Rayce Ramsay prepares to block a shot from the Battlefords North Stars during the Jan. 8 home game. Ramsay stopped 25 out of 27 shots that game.

HUMBOLDT — Special teams have helped the Humboldt Broncos post the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s best record.

As of Sunday, the team was 28-10-0-0. The Broncos were sixth in power play efficiency at 20.8 per cent. The team boasted the second-best penalty kill in the league – operating at 88.8 per cent. Special teams play certainly impacts games.

For example, veteran Broncos forward Braiden Koran said a big penalty kill “can shift the momentum right back to our team and we can go back out there and dominate five on five.”

The Broncos kill off penalties at an 86.7 per cent rate at home. They are even better on the road at 90.5 per cent. Lucas Ceccarelli leads the team with two shorthanded goals. Players on the PK units have embraced their roles.

“I enjoy penalty killing because it gives you a certain rush of being down a guy so your compete level has to go up another gear,” Koran said.

The Broncos’ power play ranks fifth in the league at home (22.2 per cent) and sixth on the road (19.6). The team features a number of dangerous offensive players. Twelve Broncos have scored at least one power play goal this season.

Alec Saretzy leads the team and is fourth in the SJHL with 11 powerplay goals. Connor McGrath and Matthew Perkins are second on the squad with five powerplay goals each. McGrath is third in the SJHL in powerplay assists with 14. Homegrown defenceman Noah Barlage is sixth in that category with 12.


Players of the Month

Individual Broncos were recognized for their roles in helping the team to a 6-1-0-0 record in December. Forward McGrath was named the SJHL’s SGEU Player of the Month. He racked up seven goals and 15 points in seven games.

Koran was tabbed as the league’s RBC Forward of the Month. He had 14 points with nine goals in seven games. The Mustangs’ Ben Tkachuk was the award’s runner-up.

Rayce Ramsay was the runner-up for the SaskTel SJHL Goaltender of the Month. It was won by Yorkton’s Kael DePape.


Roster Moves

In advance of the national trade deadline, which was Monday (after the Journal deadline), the Humboldt Broncos got their man. They acquired 20-year-old forward Jerzy Orchard last week from the Merritt Centennials of the B.C. Hockey League for a player development fee.

“He is a player we have targeted for the past couple seasons, and we really look forward to getting him in a Broncos’ uniform,” Broncos head coach Scott Barney said on the team’s website.

Orchard, a 20-year-old from Delisle, recorded two assists in his first three games with the Broncos. He had eight goals and 15 points in 22 games this season for Merritt, which is now coached by former Broncos assistant coach Curtis Toneff. The 6-foot, 175-pounder spent parts of three seasons with Merritt. In 2018-2019, he spent his rookie junior season with the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers. The next year he was with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades for 11 games and spent the rest of the time with the Centennials.

While the Broncos are chasing the 2022 SJHL title, the organization is already hard at work building the squad for the 2022-2023 season. Last week they announced the commitment of 2004-born forward Isaac Gordon. The Landmark, Man. product suits up for the Eastman Selects in his home province. As of Sunday, he was fifth in points (54 in 29 games) and third in goals

(32) in the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League. He was that league’s Forward of the Month for November with 11 goals and three assists in six games.


The Broncos last week

Tuesday, Jan. 4 in Melville
Melville 5, Humboldt 3

Broncos Scorers: Cage Newans (2), Noah Barlage

Millionaires Scorers: Noah Wills (2), Enrique Fontes, Charles-Thomas Larochelle, Nicholas Andrusiak

Goalies: Rayce Ramsay, Humboldt, 17 saves on 21; Alexis Giroux, Melville, 30 on 33

Attendance: 311

Notes: Melville held leads of 2-1 and 3-2 at the intermissions. Humboldt was 2-for-4 on the powerplay.


Saturday, Jan. 8 in Humboldt
Humboldt 6, Battlefords 2

Broncos Scorers: Rhett Gibson (2), Alex Morozoff (2), Cody Hough, Lucas Ceccarelli

North Stars Scorers: Tynan Ewart, Keiton Klein

Goalies: Rayce Ramsay, Humboldt, 25 saves on 27; Ulrick Roussel, Battlefords, 14 on 18; Lowen Kenyon, Battlefords, 16 on 18

Attendance: 629

Notes: Following a 1-1 tie, the Broncos scored five straight goals. Humboldt led 2-1 and 5-1 at the intermissions. All of the game’s goals were at even strength. Cage Newans and Reilly McKinnon each had two assists. It was Humboldt’s fifth straight win against the North Stars.


Sunday, Jan. 9 in Humboldt
Melville 5, Humboldt 3

Broncos Scorers: Alec Saretzky (2), Lucas Ceccarelli

Millionaires Scorers: Kyle Bochek (2), Cole Larocque, Charles-Thomas Larochelle, Nicolas Samson

Goalies: William Duke, Humboldt, 16 saves on 20; Alexis Giroux, Melville, 35 on 38

Attendance: 694

Notes: Humboldt led 1-0 after the first period. Melville scored three times in the second to take a 3-1 lead. Matthew Perkins had two assists. Melville was 1-for-7 on the powerplay, while Humboldt was 1-for-8.


Klimosko Milestone

Humboldt product Brayden Klimosko earned his 100th win last week as the head coach and general manager of the Battlefords North Stars. The milestone came in a 5-4 shootout win against Estevan. Before falling to the Broncos on Saturday, Klimosko had won 101 of his first 154 games with the team. He led the North Stars to the 2018-19 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championship.

As a Broncos player, Klimosko helped the team win the SJHL title in 2007 and 2008 and a national championship in the latter campaign. Klimosko went on to play football in the successful Saskatoon Hilltops junior football program. He was a Broncos assistant coach for four seasons under three different head coaches – Dean Brockman, Ryan Smith and Darcy Haugan – before holding the same role for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Drumheller Dragons for a season.


This Week

The Humboldt Broncos (28-10-0-0) host the Notre Dame Hounds (15-15-2-1) on Tuesday. They are in Melfort (22-9-1-4) on Friday. The Mustangs then follow the Broncos back to Humboldt for a Saturday night tilt.