I woke up this morning thinking to myself "was last night a dream or did that really happen?" Insane. Luke Hunter was up in the booth with me and couldn't believe it either. Sure I've seen comebacks before, but not under these circumstances and with the game being played the way it was. I pretty much giggled through the entire post-game show as I thought back to the overtime winning goal ending. As the Broncos piled onto the ice to celebrate with their goalie Yonkman and Leavold who scored the OT winner I felt like yelling "quick boys, hurry off the ice before they decide to take the win away!"
In case you missed it the Hitmen were all over the Broncos from puck drop. A tired and beat-up Broncos team did their best but it wasn't near far the level of play it had to be in order to compete.
After three or four highlight reel saves from Yonkman in the first period, the Broncos and the Hitmen were still scoreless. Off to the 2nd where the Yonkman show continued until midway through when Ryan White finally scored on a third opportunity after a botched 2-on-1. Yonks again did all he could but the Hitmen pressure was too much. 1-0 Calgary after two periods.
With no Myles Rumsey, Dale Wiese, Kyle Bortis, Matt Tassone, and Ryan Molle who left the game early with injury, you knew the Broncos wouldn't have much left for the third period.
The Hitmen's top rated powerplay made in 2-0 four minutes into the third period. Another sensational save sequence led to a Keegan Dansereau goal.
After that goal, the Broncos sagged even further and the Hitmen on-slaught was on. Yonks was called on again to make an unbelievable save off Brodie Dupont as he reached across the crease to deny the Hitmen's power-forward. I thought to myself, wow, if we get outta here down 4 or 5 nothing that would be an accomplishment.
After five straight Hitmen powerplays the Broncos were then awarded a late PP with five minutes to go. I said on the broadcast if the Broncos want to get back in this game this might be the chance they've been waiting for.
Then the strangest thing. A pigeon started flying around the Saddledome around the rafters, down to the score-clock and around the upper sections. The fans totally lost focus of the game and maybe so did the Hitmen, I know I did. The fans were making all sorts of noise and in talking to the Broncos coaching staff after the game, they had no idea what was going on, no clue. Sure they heard the crowd but they didn't see the bird, they had a powerplay to run.
Midway through the man advantage a Paul Postma point-shot rebounded to Brady Leavold who snapped it home to give the Broncos some life as they broke up the shut-out bid of Martin Jones in the Hitmen goal with 3:26 to play. Calgary was po'ed to say the least. They had let a team back into a game that they have dominated from the opening face-off.
The Hitmen stepped up their pressure and for the next two minutes the Broncos had trouble getting the puck out of their zone. The first chance the Broncos had to get the puck near center was with 1:10 left in the game. Travis Yonkman sprinted to the bench for the extra attacker. The Broncos battled hard to keep the puck in and control it inside the Hitmen zone. After an initial chance in front, Geordie Wudrick fired home the tying goal with 22 seconds left! Pandemonium on the ice and in the broadcast booth. All the while this lone pigeon continued to circle the stands.
Before the game I said to Geordie "hey, giving me something to cheer about Wuddy." He didn't let me down.
It was off to overtime and the Broncos were now destined to win this game. The first chance they had inside Calgary territory, Levi Nelson fought hard in the Calgary corner to get a puck to Brady Leavold who then jammed it home on the side of the goal . . . game over! Leavold from Nelson with a special assist from the lucky pigeon who seemed to hover over the celebrating Broncos in the Hitmen corner. It was a shocking ending. Just ask the 9,000+ who took in the game.
After the game I was loading my gear under the bus when Geordie came up and replied, "how was that for something to cheer about Keener?"
What an ending, what a game. I'm going down to pick up a Calgary Sun newspaper to get their take. It will be great to get it from a Calgary perspective.
Three stars announced in the building:
3. Ryan White - scored the lone Hitmen goal
2. Travis Yonkman - according to the homer shot clock, 49 saves. His best game ever as a Bronco
1. Brady Leavold - 2 goals and one assist in his first game back since the break. Great effort.
It'll be tough to top that but the Broncos will try again tomorrow night when they host Seattle . . . the Thunderbirds. Speaking of birds, is their any chance we can get ours from the 'Dome? Sorry Charlie Horse but you have company.