Euro power . . . a phrase coined by Austrian native and former Broncos forward Thomas Raffl, one of the biggest characters the Broncos have had in their line-up the last few seasons.
Red Deer showed their own version of Euro power Saturday night at the Civic Center as Czech forward Martin Hanzal and Russian sniper Kirill Starkov combined for 8 points in a 5-2 win over the Broncos. As for our Euro power? Danny Rakos continued his season long parade to the penalty box with his team leading 31st minor of the season as the Rebels scored the eventual game winning goal on the pp with 7:30 to play in the third. Our other Euro, David Stieler was busy sticking up for teammates by getting into his first fight in the WHL (probably in his life) with Red Deer's Kerry Pieper after a big check dished out on Matt Tassone. What's my point here? Well, Friday night, Red Deer's two Euro's showed all-world talent while the Broncos' pair showed that maybe they were actually born in Stewart Valley, Sask. Rather than their native Czech Republic.
It really was an entertaining game, the Rebels came in as an owly bunch and wanted to redeem themselves for a lackluster effort in Prince Albert the night before. They came out in the first and as predicted, dictated the flow before the Broncos responded well in the 2nd period to tie the game 2-2 heading into the third.
A lack of a powerplay caught up to the Broncos, especially when the teams traded 5-on-3 advantages on three separate occasions. Red Deer's two PP goals turned out to be the difference in the hockey game.
Afterwards the Eagle 94.1's Fine Furniture Oasis Hot Stove Lounge took over in the Canadian Room. We were joined by Head Coach and G.M. Dean Chynoweth, Assistant Coach Dave Hunchak and players Levi Nelson, Dale Wiese, and Zack Smith. Thanks guys.
When we got to the Q and A portion from the fans, it seemed the front two tables in the lounge - aka the "Karl Benke Fan Club" took over the first round of questions. They wanted to know "why Karl Benke wasn't dressed? Will we ever see him play again? How come he didn't play against the bigger, slower Portland Winterhawks earlier this week? The questions were directed towards Dean and after the third or fourth Benke inquiry from the Fan Club, Dean quickly responded as to sum-up his thoughts by saying "Because I wanna win". I don't want to give this more ink than it's worth but let's break down the Broncos blueline:
1. Right now (knock on wood) it's injury free.
2. Myles Rumsey / Dane Crowley / R.J. Larochelle have been outstanding this season
3. Michael Wilson - a 19 year-old adds experience and a powerplay/offensive factor
4. We have three very talented 17 year-olds (Derek Claffey, Paul Postma, Ryan Molle) the first two of the three are potential NHL draft picks this summer - ranked #12 and #18 in the WHL respectively. These three have a ton of upside and need to continue to develop so they can be the anchors of our blueline in the coming years.
5. This leaves Karl Benke. It's an unfortunate situation for the big 18 year-old defenseman, he's kind of caught between a rock and a hard place.
The best option for Karl Benke and his Fan Club is to just wait. An opportunity will arise. Let's hope he takes full advantage of it when it comes around.
To close, a few shout-outs. Thanks to Ernie for firing some good questions at the Hot Stove and keeping us all entertained. A few of the players have commented that they read this blog and so does their family and friends, thanks. Broncos Director of Player Personnel and Head Scout Jaime Porter took some shots at me for my "blog" but whatever, maybe he has a point. Stay tuned Jaime, you may learn a thing or two . . . even if my top prospects post was way out to lunch. Good luck at the bantam draft this summer, I'll be watching.
Some WHL news, notes and tidbits are coming up later this week . . . till then,