It was a solemn day across the Western Hockey League as all member clubs and fans remembered the tragic loss of the Four Broncos – Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff – on this same day 30 years prior, in a bus accident just east of Swift Current.
On a day in which the Broncos family and community of Swift Current unveiled a roadside monument in honour of their fallen heroes, Kaden Elder provided modern-day heroics in spurring his team to an overtime win over the Saskatoon Blades.
While much of the focus fell on Swift Current and those the WHL family lost, there were notable otuings elsewhere around the league, including a 16-goal barn-burner between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Medicine Hat Tigers, as well as a sizeable shutout win for Tyler Brown and the Prince Albert Raiders.
Here are your details…
Moose Jaw Warriors (3) at Brandon Wheat Kings (4) – OT
Moose Jaw (21-9-5-1) // Brandon (17-15-4-0)
Reid Duke scored with 29 seconds remaining in overtime as the Brandon Wheat Kings notched a 4-3 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors Friday night.
While Duke secured the game-deciding marker, Tyler Coulter helped paced the Wheat Kings offense with two goals and an assist.
Logan Thompson made 24 saves for his sixth win of the campaign.
— Brandon Wheat Kings (@bdnwheatkings) December 31, 2016
Edmonton Oil Kings (2) at Calgary Hitmen (3)
Edmonton (17-17-3-1) // Calgary (14-17-2-1)
Cody Porter made 31 saves to backstop the Calgary Hitmen to a much-needed 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday night.
Andrei Grishakov tied the game in the first period before Beck Malenstyn and Andrew Fyten scored in the second period to give the Hitmen a 3-1 advantage.
Will Warm scored in the dying seconds of the third to get the Oil Kings back within one, but that’s as close as they’d get as Porter collected his 11th win of the season.
— Calgary Hitmen (@WHLHitmen) December 31, 2016
Prince George Cougars (4) at Everett Silvertips (3)
Prince George (27-10-2-0) // Everett (25-5-6-0)
Brendan Guhle and Josh Curtis scored third period goals, leading the Prince George Cougars to a 4-3 win over the Everett Silvertips on Friday.
Guhle finished with a goal and an assist, while Jansen Harkins chipped in two goals and one helper.
Ty Edmonds made 17 saves for his 21st win of the season.
— PG Cougars (@PGCougars) December 31, 2016
Victoria Royals (2) at Kelowna Rockets (1)
Victoria (20-15-4-0) // Kelowna (23-14-2-0)
Griffen Outhouse made 26 saves to backstop the Victoria Royals to a 2-1 triumph over the Kelowna Rockets Friday evening.
Jack Walker and Kaid Oliver provided a 2-0 lead for the Royals, with Nolan Foote spoiling Outhouse’s shutout bid. Despite that, the Royals goaltender did manage to hit the 20-win plateau.
The Royals edged the Kelowna Rockets 2-1 on Friday night at Prospera Place.
— Victoria Royals (@victoriaroyals) December 31, 2016
Lethbridge Hurricanes (9) at Medicine Hat Tigers (7)
Lethbridge (20-13-3-2) // Medicine Hat (27-11-1-0)
Tyler Wong notched two goals and three assists as the Lethbridge Hurricanes scored a wild 9-7 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday.
The Lethbridge captain wasn’t the only one to enjoy a big night as Giorgio Estephan (2G-2A), Ryley Lindgren (1G-2A) and Colton Kroeker (3A) managed at least three points for the Hurricanes.
There was plenty of scoring on the Tigers’ side of the puck, with Matt Bradley matching Wong with two goals and three assists of his own. John Dahlstrom (3A) and Mason Shaw (2G-2A) had stellar nights on the scoresheet as well.
With Lethbridge leading 6-3 heading into the third period, the two Central Division rivals combined to score seven goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Stuart Skinner claimed his 18th win with 43 saves.
Huge shoutout to our amazing fans who came out on the fan bus tonight! You brought passion and energy to the building and our boys all night
— Brent Kisio (@Brent_Kisio) December 31, 2016
Regina Pats (8) at Prince Albert Raiders (0)
Regina (24-3-6-1) // Prince Albert (8-28-1-1)
Sam Steel collected a goal and two assists as the Regina Pats spanked the Prince Albert Raiders by an 8-0 margin on Friday.
The Pats scored twice in the first period, four times in the second period and two more for good measure in the third period.
Tyler Brown was perfect, making 24 saves for his second shutout and 17th win of the season.
— Regina Pats (@WHLPats) December 31, 2016
Kootenay ICE (4) at Red Deer Rebels (1)
Kootenay (8-23-7-1) // Red Deer (17-16-4-2)
Payton Lee made 41 saves and Zak Zborosky had a goal and two assists to lead the Kootenay ICE to a 4-1 win over the Red Deer Rebels Friday night.
Tied 1-1 heading into the third period, the ICE rattled off three unanswered goals to secure two points on the road.
Lee’s effort was worthy of his seventh win of the campaign.
41 saves for @PaytsLee1
— Kootenay ICE (@WHLKootenayICE) December 31, 2016
Portland Winterhawks (2) at Seattle Thunderbirds (1)
Portland (21-17-1-0) // Seattle (18-14-3-1)
Skyler McKenzie scored his 25th goal of the season with 4:18 remaining in regulation, snapping a tie game and giving the Portland Winterhawks a 2-1 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday.
Keegan Iverson and Aaron Hyman provided the opening tallies, while Cole Kehler made 40 saves for his 16th win of the season.
— Portland Winterhawks (@pdxwinterhawks) December 31, 2016
Tri-City Americans (6) at Spokane Chiefs (3)
Tri-City (21-16-3-0) // Spokane (15-15-5-1)
Parker AuCoin had two goals as the Tri-City Americans doubled up the Spokane Chiefs by a 6-3 tally Friday night.
Nolan Yaremko added two assists while Rylan Parenteau steered aside 25 shots for his 12th win of the season.
— Tri-City Americans (@TCAmericans) December 31, 2016
Saskatoon Blades (2) at Swift Current Broncos (3) – OT
Saskatoon (14-20-4-1) // Swift Current (20-11-3-4)
On an emotional day in Swift Current, Kaden Elder played the role of hero, scoring 2:11 into overtime and giving the Broncos a 3-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades on what was the 30th anniversary of the death of the Four Broncos – Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff.
Earlier in the day, the team and members of the community dedicated a monument in memory of the fallen four at the site of the bus crash alongside the Trans-Canada Highway east of Swift Current.
Elder’s overtime winner did not come without prior drama.
The Blades jumped to a 2-0 lead courtesy goals from Josh Paterson and Lukus MacKenzie. But over the course of 1:49 in the second period, Max Lajoie and Kole Gable struck to tie the game 2-2 heading into the third period.
Travis Child made 21 saves for his 11th win of the season.
See WHL.ca for more on the Four Broncos.
— SC Broncos (@SCBroncos) December 31, 2016
Kamloops Blazers (4) at Vancouver Giants (2)
Kamloops (23-14-1-1) // Vancouver (14-20-1-2)
Dylan Ferguson made 39 saves while Quinn Benjafield contributed a goal and an assist as the Kamloops Blazers defeated the Vancouver Giants 4-2 Friday night.
The Blazers built a 3-0 lead courtesy goals from Dallas Valentine, Garrett Pilon and Benjafield before the Giants clawed back with late third period goals from James Malm and Ty Ronning.
Ferguson’s performance earned him his ninth win of the season.
A late push by the Giants, but Collin Shirley ices it with an empty net goal and the Blazers win 4-2 in Vancouver to improve to 23-14-1-1.
— Kamloops Blazers (@blazerhockey) December 31, 2016