It was an ending no one could have predicted and was even harder to explain.
The first and second place teams in the WHL went head-to-head in the second round of the playoffs, played three overtime games – including triple overtime in game six – and prepared everyone for a tight game seven battle.
What happened instead was a lopsided 6-0 victory for the Broncos.
“I can’t explain that. I really can’t. It’s one of those things we didn’t expect it by any means,” said Broncos head coach Manny Viveiros.
“We’re ecstatic. We feel like we’re fortunate also too and very proud of our kids. We thought we played our last two games really well.”
Game seven, however, came with a completely different result that game six. One that sends the Broncos on to the eastern conference finals against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“To do it in that fashion just kind of proves our resilience,” said Giorgio Estephan.
Resilience because after a deflating triple overtime loss, the Broncos could have given up. Instead, they dominated the play scoring two goals a period and keeping the momentum solidly in their court.
It started with Colby Sissons, one of the team’s top players who sent in a beautiful slapshot from the blue line to beat Brody Willms and give the Broncos the lead they wouldn’t lose.
With 35 seconds left in the period, captain Glenn Gawdin got on the board for his first of the night sending the Warriors into the locker rooms down 2-0.
And the Broncos kept pushing.
Team Canada hero Tyler Steenbergen scored 3:22 into the second period and Gawdin followed it up less than two minutes later skating past the Warriors defenders and beating Willms between the legs.
Things weren’t the same for the Warriors after that and Swift Current just kept taking advantage adding two more in the third courtesy of Estephan and Max Patterson.
“We had the momentum and then we continued with the momentum and we scored at opportune times,” said Viveiros.
The scoring, by the way, came largely from who you’d expect: the top line that produced for their team all year including Gawdin, Steenbergen and Aleksi Heponiemi.
“They’ve been doing it all year for us and we called them in that one line today before the game. I said ‘listen you guys have been doing it all year for us and you got to lead the way for us’ … and they welcomed that challenge,” Viveiros said.
But just down the hall at Mosaic Place, things were a lot less rosy.
It was a disappointing end to a dream season for the Warriors, who finished the season first in the WHL and second in the country.
It’s also an end that head coach Tim Hunter struggled to explain.
“It’s really hard. If I had an answer for you (the final score) wouldn’t be 6-0,” Hunter said. “Junior hockey is a funny thing and like I just mentioned having a team that wasn’t very healthy to play a big game is hard on your team’s confidence for them to have success. I think it just wore on them.”
“It’s human nature to be frustrated when you don’t win and you’re not in the game from the get-go. I’m sure the players are just as frustrated. It’s just one of those nights that didn’t go right and like I said to win the playoffs everything has to go right and it didn’t for our team,” he said.
But Hunter still has hope for the future, vowing to field another good team for the 2018-19 season.
Meanwhile, the Swift Current Broncos will take a couple days to rest before they welcome the Hurricanes on Friday.