Friesen, Broncos Hold Off Americans 2-1
By Dan Mulhausen | Tri-City Americans
SWIFT CURRENT, SK – As a former member of the Chilliwack Bruins, goaltender Mark Friesen never managed to beat the Americans, averaging four-plus goals against in five appearances. Apparently, a change of scenery was just what the 20-year-old netminder needed.
Friesen matched his season-high in saves (29) while Stepan Novotny recorded a goal and an assist as the Swift Current Broncos (4-6-0-0, 8 pts) held off the Tri-City Americans (7-3-1-0, 15 pts) in front of 1,959 fans at the Credit Union i-Plex. With the win, the Broncos have now won two straight games and three of their last four. Swift Current also snapped their four-game losing streak to the Americans. Meanwhile, Tri-City finished their swing through the East Division with a 3-3 record and picked up seven of a possible 14 points on their seven-game road trip.
From the early going, players could tell that everything in Wednesday’s contest was going to have to be earned. Space was hard to find and shots were not easy to come by.
But, with 4:44 remaining in the first period, the Broncos capitalized on their second power play of the game. Cody Eakin shanked his shot but the puck found the stick of Novotny. Novotny then poked the puck towards Drew Owsley, which slipped past the goaltender and across the goal line just before defenseman Brock Sutherland could swat it away.
Then, midway through the second period, the Broncos’ lead grew to 2-0. With the Americans caught pinching inside the Swift Current zone, defenseman Sam Grist was caught cheating up, allowing Novotny to slip past. Now on a 2-on-1 breakaway, Novotny waited until the last possible moment to feed a hard-charging Adam Lowry on the left wing. With Owsley fully committed to Novotny, all Lowry had to do was direct the pass into the net for his first goal of the season.
Headed into the final period still down by two, Tri-City picked up their road-weary legs and took it to the Broncos. Friesen was tested twice in the first 15 seconds alone and later had two shots deflect off his mask. Finally, with 9:34 remaining in regulation, the Americans pulled to within one. Tyler Schmidt dumped the puck into the right corner, where Adam Hughesman dove into and came away with the puck. From there, Hughesman fed Patrick Holland in the slot, who then swept a backhander past Friesen.
However, Tri-City would spend nearly four of the final nine and a half minutes on the penalty kill, severely hindering their comeback attempt. But, still trying to catch lightning in a bottle, the Americans kept the pressure on Friesen and the Broncos. Playing with a man in the box but with Owsley pulled, Tri-City got one final chance with just over 6 seconds left in the game. Tri-City won the face-off and created a mess in front of Friesen but, in the end, they could not find the equalizer.
Friesen highlighted a stellar defensive effort by the Broncos, holding the League’s highest scoring offense to just one goal. With the win, Friesen picked up his fourth win of the year while lowering his goals against average to 1.23 over his last four games. Meanwhile, Owsley stopped 32 of the 34 shots he saw in the tough luck loss. The Americans were blanked on two power play chances, while Swift Current went 1-for-5 on the man-advantage.
Tri-City will now get five days off before their next contest on Tuesday, October 19 against the Calgary Hitmen (3-3-0-0). Game time is 7:05 pm at the Toyota Center. In just their second of three home games in the month of October, the Americans will square off against the Hitmen for the first time since their match-up in last season’s WHL Finals, a series Calgary won 4 to 1 in route to their second WHL Championship. The Americans, who are 3-0 at home this season, have won two straight regular season home games against the Hitmen and hold a 5-4-0-0 all-time record at the Toyota Center. Meanwhile, Calgary will be playing their fourth of five games against the U.S. Division, after playing in Everett on Friday and Seattle on Saturday. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 pm.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Stepan Novotny, Swift Current
2, Mark Friesen, Swift Current
3, Patrick Holland, Tri-City