Four wins down, 12 to go in the Humboldt Broncos’ quest to enter the 2012 RBC Cup through the front door.
The Broncos made short work of the La Ronge Ice Wolves in the Bauer Conference semifinal, ending the Ice Wolves’ two-year reign as SJHL champions with a convincing four-game sweep, outscoring La Ronge 20-8 in the process.
The result wasn’t much of a surprise; Humboldt beat the Ice Wolves in all six regular season meetings, earning four regulation time wins to go along with a pair of overtime victories.
We would have been disappointed if (the series) would have gone too far,” Broncos head coach Dean Brockman told the Humboldt Journal following the series. “But you never know what the outcome can be.”
The Broncos started their playoffs with an offensive statement, scoring eight times in first two periods and outshooting La Ronge 45-19 in an 8-2 victory.
They took a 2-0 lead with a 3-2 win in Game 2, and put the Ice Wolves on the brink of elimination with a 3-2 triumph in the first game in La Ronge, a contest in which Humboldt trailed 2-0 early in the second period.
With a sweep in their sights the Broncos cruised in Game 4, scoring three times in the third period to pull away late and earn a 6-2 victory, advancing to the SJHL semifinals for the first time since winning the last of their three consecutive league crowns in 2009.
Andrew Johnston and Robbie Ciolfi, Humboldt’s leading scorers in the regular season, paced the offence against the Ice Wolves, each picking up six points in four games, with Ciolfi’s five goals tied for the league lead.
Matt Hrynkiw and Colin Dzijacky split the goaltending duties and finished with almost identical numbers – Hrynkiw had two wins, a 2.00 goals against average and a .932 save percentage, while Dzijacky also posted two victories and a 2.00 GAA, although his save percentage was slightly lower at .927.
Humboldt is looking to become the second RBC Cup host team in three years to win league and regional championships on their way to the National Junior A Championship, joining the Dauphin Kings, who pulled off the feat in 2010.
Next up for the Broncos? The Battlefords North Stars, who erased a 3-1 deficit against the Nipawin Hawks in their quarter-final, winning a Game 7 overtime thriller to advance.