Written By: Rory McGouran
After 305 days of hockey hiatus, the Humboldt Broncos returned in a big way to drop the puck on the 2021/22 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, picking up a 5-1 win over the Notre Dame Hounds.
The two Global Ag Risk Division rivals met on September 24th inside the Duncan McNeil Arena in Wilcox, SK. Plenty of turnover with many faces littered both lineups as the teams competed for the years opening two points in the standings.
The first period was tightly contested and nearly concluded with teams deadlocked at nil. However, with just 31 seconds remaining, Alec Saretzky scored his first career SJHL goal, and the first goal for the Broncos in the new season. The Broncos acquired Saretzky from the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL just a couple weeks prior to the regular season opener. The Saskatoon native and former 4th overall pick in the SJHL Bantam Draft in 2017 looks poised for a breakout year with the green and gold and will be counted on heavily for offense from the Broncos’ coaching staff.
The Broncos came out in the second period and looked to have found another gear, while pushing much of the pace towards Hounds’ goaltender, Joe Kuchaslo. On the first shift of the middle frame, just 39 seconds in, newly anointed assistant captain, Braiden Koran scored his first of the year to double the Broncos lead to 2-0. The Hounds were able to get back within one, curtsey of a point shot on the powerplay by Landon Peterson that beat Broncos’ goalie, Rayce Ramsay through a screen of multiple bodies.
From there on out, the Broncos took over.
Lucas Ceccarelli, another new face on the Broncos roster, tucked home a wrap-around with Kuchaslo well out of position for his first career SJHL goal, restoring the Broncos’ two goal lead heading into the third period.
In the final frame, Connor McGrath showcased why he was a highly coveted trade target of the Broncos. The former 6th overall pick in the 2018 SJHL Bantam draft, who was acquired from the Weyburn Red Wings this offseason, scored his first of the game on a backdoor pass from Braiden Koran for a 4-1 lead. Then seven minutes later, McGrath and Logan Kurki connected on a two-on-one to lift the Broncos to a 5-1 lead.
Although some attention to detail work is still in order, it’s tough to imagine a better opening night for the Humboldt Broncos, their players, and their coaching staff.
Rayce Ramsay stopped 30 of 31 shots faced. Logan Kurki, who many believe will be atop the SJHL scoring leaders at seasons-end, finished with three assists, and 10 different Broncos picked up at least one point in the full team effort to secure two points.
Now it’s the Humboldt Broncos turn to host their home opener as they welcome in the Notre Dame Hound for the rematch on Saturday, September 25th.