Game on – the road to the 2012 RBC Cup has begun.
The Humboldt Broncos, hosts of next May’s National Junior A Championship, dropped the puck on the 2011-12 season on Saturday night at Elgar Petersen Arena, kicking off their 232-day journey to the national championship.
After raising the host team banner in a pre-game ceremony, the Broncos opened the season in style, routing the visiting Notre Dame Hounds 7-0 behind a hat trick from Adam Zbitniff and a 19-save shutout from Matt Hrynkiw.
Zbitniff and Hrynkiw are two of 13 returning players from last year’s edition of the Broncos. Humboldt also added firepower in Robbie Ciolfi and Andrew Johnston, who combined to score 56 goals for Yorkton and Flin Flon, respectively, last season, and big-game experience in Mathew Backhouse, who reached the final of the 2010 RBC Cup with the host Dauphin Kings, and Ryan Marshall, a two-time member of Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge.
Humboldt has been one of the nation’s most successful Junior A teams of the last decade, winning four Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championships between 20 and making three trips to the RBC Cup.
The Broncos claimed the 2003 national championship, beating the Camrose Kodiaks in the championship game, and topped the Kodiaks again in the final in 2008 for national title No. 2. They came within one victory of repeating in 2009, falling to the Vernon Vipers in the national championship game.
The 2012 RBC Cup will mark the 25th anniversary of the first time the Broncos hosted Canada’s National Junior A Championship, the 1987 Centennial Cup. Humboldt is just the second city to host the national championship twice since a host team was added in 1985, joining Summerside, P.E.I.
Photo credit: Humboldt Journal