It was the Stuart Skinner show at the Brandt Centre Monday night, but unfortunately for the WHL champion Swift Current Broncos, this show did not have a happy ending.
The Hamilton Bulldogs outshot the Broncos 56-22, but they needed a goal from Marian Studenic at the 17:59 mark of the 3rd period to hand Swift Current their second loss of the Memorial Cup as the Ontario champs took the game by a score of 2-1.
“I want to win this thing badly, and I know my team does too. We can make excuses, but we need to be harder to play and if we do, I know no one can beat us.” Skinner said. “It’s difficult to know we have been so close to winning especially in a short tournament like this. We can’t dwell on this game and we’re looking forward to our game against Regina. We know they’ll be coming out hard so we have to match their intensity.”
Broncos coach Manny Vivieros had nothing but superlatives for his goaltender when it was over saying it was tough to see him get the loss on this night after his performance.
“Without Stu, the score could have gotten out of hand early tonight.” Broncos head coach Manny Viveiros stated as fans filed out of the Brandt Centre. “We were working hard, but nothing was going right.”
Defenceman Colby Sissons, who had the only Swift Current goal, echoed the sentiments of his head coach.
“We let him down tonight.” Sissons said. “We had a few spurts in the second period where we played well, but for the most part, he bailed us out and we just couldn’t pull it out for him.”
Hamilton head coach John Gruden says it was a game featuring two teams desperate to get their first win and it showed. He says it was also a challenge for his team to keep battling as Skinner stopped opportunity after opportunity knowing and hoping one would finally elude him.
“We started getting more traffic in the third on him. The message was to stick with it and keep grinding, grinding, grinding and find a way to win.” Gruden said. “Our guys stuck to the gameplan and got it done when it mattered the most.”
The Bulldogs will be back in action Tuesday night when they go up against 2-0 Acadie Bathurst in an 8 o’clock start. The Broncos are 0-2 and need a victory against 1-1 Regina on Wednesday to get into a tie-breaker game. The Broncos will also go into that one trying to end a dubious streak for the Western Hockey League. The WHL champ has lost nine straight now at the Memorial Cup
1st Game Period-1, Hamilton, Entwistle 1 (Moore, Fulcher), 5:49 (PP). Penalties-Heponiemi Sc (high sticking), 3:26; Minulin Sc (delay of game), 3:53; Moore Ham (cross checking), 12:59.
2nd Game Period-2, Swift Current, Sissons 1 (Minulin, Estephan), 9:26 (PP). Penalties-Mattinen Ham (interference), 4:58; Patterson Sc (roughing), 7:47; Mattinen Ham (holding), 7:47; Moore Ham (roughing), 7:47; Entwistle Ham (holding), 17:08.
3rd Game Period-3, Hamilton, Studenic 2 (Gleason, Saigeon), 17:59. Penalties-Gable Sc (hooking), 4:21; Nagel Sc (cross checking), 9:01; Nurse Ham (high sticking), 9:01.
Shots on Goal-Swift Current 4-11-7-22. Hamilton 22-15-19-56.
Power Play Opportunities-Swift Current 1/4; Hamilton 1/3.
Goalies-Swift Current, Skinner 0-1-1-0 (56 shots-54 saves). Hamilton, Fulcher 1-1-0-0 (22 shots-21 saves).
Referees-Steve Papp, Quincy Evans.
Linesmen-Nick Bilko, Tarrington Wyonzek.