The Swift Current Broncos are 2018 Ed Chynoweth Cup Champions.
Swift Current is Saskatchewan’s first Western Hockey League Champion since 1993 when the Broncos also took the league title.
“These kids how committed they were.. they were all in,” said Broncos Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros. “There was times things didn’t go well for us, but they were determined and never got done. I’m really proud of that group, I’m so happy for these guys.”
Stuart Skinner made 31 saves for his sixth shutout of the playoffs as the Broncos beat Everett 3-0 to secure the 4-2 series win over the Silvertips.
“It was unbelievable,” said Broncos forward Tyler Steenbergen. “I had the shivers. I kind of blacked out for a bit.”
Skinner finished the playoffs with a record for most games played and most saves among WHL goaltenders.
“I can’t really put these feelings into words,” Skinner said. “These teammates are my family… best feeling I’ve ever had in my life… Us as a group of guys, we’re so close. Everyone loves each other in that room. We’re always joking around and having fun. Even when we’re going through tough situations and have adversity we’re always calm with each other and make sure we’re supporting each other.”
Giorgio Estephan opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period as Aleksi Heponiemi set him up for his 13th of the playoffs.
“The electricity in Swift is crazy,” Estephan said. “It just helps us, boosts us and couldn’t be more proud of our team. I’m just so excited.”
Heponiemi finished a tremendous first period by putting home the remnants of a Sahvan Khaira shot with only 0.6 seconds left on the clock for a 2-0 lead.
The Broncos would lock down the Silvertips the rest of the way and add a late empty-net goal from Beck Malenstyn to secure the championship.
Captain Glenn Gawdin won the WHL playoff MVP award after putting up 14 goals and 18 assists in 24 playoff games.
“All I can say is it’s worth the wait,” Gawdin said after five years with the Broncos. “I played with a lot of great guys and have nothing bad to say about them, but this group this year was something special… I think we worked as one. All season long we faced a lot of adversity and it didn’t seem to phase us.”
Swift Current finished the WHL playoffs with a league record 26 games played on the way to their championship.
Gawdin gives a lot of credit to their coach for their success.
“We wouldn’t be here without him,” Gawdin said. “It’s just that simple. Real grateful to finish my career with such a great coach and great guy. Everybody comes to the rink with a smile on their face and ready to work. A lot of that is because of him and a positive attitude.”
For Viveiros, the reaction of a sold out crowd and the passion from a very excited community was quite a payoff.
“You can see the passion,” Viveiros said. “You’d think there were 16,000 fans in the rink right now. You could just see the emotion. Every goal for or against… it wasn’t just a hockey game. It’s something this whole community really embraced. We’re very happy and glad we could do it for them.”
As WHL Champions the Broncos will now take part in the Memorial Cup tournament in Regina. Their first game is Saturday at 2 p.m. against the QMJHL champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan.