Monday, January 22, 2007
"Send the fans home happy Smitty . . ."
Was the last thing I said before Zack Smith scored in round five of the shootout to give the Broncos another improbable comeback win at the Civic Center and the 2nd straight shootout win on home ice.
I should maybe take a page from Big Ern who never loses faith regardless of the situation (see comments from last post). He's an optimist, I'm a realist I guess. Ern's "always confident of victory" attitude seems to be the way to go lately - especially on home ice. Ern doesn't see this team on the road, and their 9-16-0-1 record away from the Civic Center has jaded me just a little.
Great comeback win last night with the Broncos' backs to the wall. Without leading scorer Levi Nelson (suspension), Jeremy Schenderling (back), and Kyle Bortis (ankle), the odds didn't look good against a Calgary team determined to make good after last Sunday's blow-up at the Saddledome. The Hitmen might be the most fragile squad in the WHL who dropped their 7th game in their last 8 - most of those losses coming after blowing a third period lead.
Did anyone else see that pigeon watching the proceedings high above the ice surface? Haha, not last night but it was a very pigeon-esqe comeback with the Broncos trailing 3-cobb in the 2nd period.
First it was Danny Rakos who snapped a long scoring drought with a PP marker midway through the 2nd period. For Danny it was a big goal. How about his effort last night. His best game in weeks IMO.
Just over three minutes into the 3rd period, defenseman Eric Doyle would snap home a shot coming off the rush. His "jump into the glass" celebration shows that he picked up a few things in Everett along the way. That move is commonplace in Tipsville. Good to see Eric get excited for the first time as a Bronco in what was his home-ice debut.
With just over five minutes to go the Broncos would tie it thanks to Derek Claffey's first ever goal in the WHL. His slapper deflected off a Hitmen in front to knot the game 3-3. It was good to see the Broncos go after the puck for Claffey for a nice WHL souvenir. "I just threw it on net, t bounced off of . . . Someones skate or something, slid in and I don't know. Good feeling, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face, I had to re-focus." Claffey commenting on our PDQ Autobody post-game show.
The Broncos would seemingly hold on for overtime to grab the one point and then roll the dice for the extra one.
Some great saves from Travis Yonkman in OT, especially a nice right-pad save on a one-timer from Ryan White. Travis Yonkman deserves full credit in the Broncos goal after replacing starter Kyle Moir in the 2nd period after the Hitmen made in 3-0. He would finish with 21 saves for the win.
Off to the shootout where Freddie Petterson got it started with a pretty back-hand deke to open the scoring. After misses on both sides, the Broncos looked for rookie Geordie Wudrick to have the "clutch-touch" to extend the shootout to a 4th round. Wudrick in the post-game recalled the play. "Actually I did the same move on (Calgary goaltender) Jones a couple years ago on a breakaway. Dean called my name, my heart was just racing, it was my first shootout chance all year . . . I just kinda just faked the backhand and went to the forehand and squeaked it in."
Turns out, Wudrick and Martin Jones have known and played with eachother for years out in BC.
Round five, and it's Zack Smith again. Game over, good night, drive home safely - his 2nd straight shootout winner on home ice. The Broncos have now won 8 of their last 9 on home ice.
A few other thoughts on the game. First of all, thanks to referee Chris Savage for not being the star of the show. His ability to ruin a game is legendary. Last night he stayed out of it.
Also, if you want a different kind of game-night recap visit my buddy Switzer's blog www.ryanswitzer.blogspot.com
After the game, apparently the Hitmen's Ryan White was a bit agitated. The WHL's 2nd leading scorer with 60 pts got into it with the Broncos Brady Leavold in the lobby area. There's no need for this after the game. White was clearly upset he was held off the scoresheet. One thing I've noticed about White (and heard first hand) is that he's one of those "play for the name on the back, not the name on the front" type players.
I don't know exactly what was said but there were a few verbal barrages and an invitation to drop the gloves in the final meeting of the season set for the Civic Center February 11th.
What a game, what an ending.