by Phil Ambroziak

Local hockey fans are expected to be in for some excitement this Saturday (Feb. 1) when the Dewberry Mustangs come to town for the very first time to square off against the Meadow Lake Senior Broncos.

“Dewberry has never competed against us here in Meadow Lake before,” remarked Broncos head coach Winston Morin. “They’re a good, tough team, and we’ve had a little bit of an ongoing rivalry with them since last season, so it should be a good one.”

Saturday’s game marks the first in the best-of-five, opening round playoff series between Meadow Lake and Dewberry. The Broncos finished fourth overall during the SaskAlta Hockey League’s 2019-20 regular season, while the Mustangs were fifth overall. The puck drops Saturday at 8 p.m.

“Dewberry has some very good players and we’re sure to have our hands full, but I’m optimistic things will go our way,” Morin said. “We’ll be heading into playoffs down one goalie and one player who are out because of injures. Forward Bryce Neufeld was injured at our last game, while goalie Jared Lafond got hurt the night before while not playing hockey. Both are likely to be out for several weeks, but luckily we have two backup goalies in Steven Perkins and Rick Dallyn, so we should be in good shape.”

The best-of-five series continues with Game 2 this Sunday (Feb. 2) also in Meadow Lake. Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for next Friday and Saturday in Dewberry, while Game 5 – if necessary – will be back in Meadow Lake next Sunday (Feb. 9).

The Broncos’ final regular season game, meanwhile, saw them fall to the first-place Hillmond Hitmen this past Saturday (Jan. 25) in Hillmond by a score of 5-2.

There was no score after the first period, while Hillmond took a commanding 4-0 lead in the second. Hillmond scored again in the third, while the Broncos finally got on the scoreboard thanks to goals by Mike Siklenka and DJ King.

“We just found ourselves up against a really good team,” Morin said. “We didn’t seem ready to play in the second period and, although we straightened things out in the third, it was too late.”

In addition to the upcoming playoffs, the Broncos will also compete in Saskatchewan Hockey Association provincials in the coming weeks. Although a schedule has yet to be confirmed, the Broncos will meet the Watrous Winterhawks in the opening round.