Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Seven Straight

The Prince Albert Raiders couldn't get out of town fast enough. Could you blame them?

For the 7th time this season, the Broncos posted the win. Last night an 8-3 romp at the Civic Center. The win moves the Broncos back into 3rd spot in the east division - a point better than the Raiders.

The game sure got interesting when Matt Robertson scored a PP goal 1:39 into the third period to make it 4-2. Mike Wilson responded shortly after with a nice goal featuring a pretty finish upstairs on Jesse Deckert to restore the three goal cushion. After that, it was a walk.

Levi Nelson finished the game with two goals and an assist, Zack Smith had a pair of goals. Singles came from Jeremy Schenderling, Kyle Bortis, Mike Wilson and R.J. Larochelle. Brady Leavold chipped in with three assists.

In the pre-game, Raiders head coach Pete Anholt wanted to change up his luck so he jokingly said he didn't want to talk to me for the coaches interview, instead he sent out assistant coach Kris Knoblauch. Apparently the strategy didn't work.

So here's the deal. The Broncos need to go into Saskatoon tonight and beat the Blades. A win would almost secure a playoff spot. There's another big divisional battle in Moose Jaw tonight when the Warriors host the Raiders.

Time is limited today with the team hitting the road just after 2pm for Toontown so I'll just add a few quick tidbits.

-Saskatchewan's hockey team will not be bringing home a medal from the Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse. Team B.C. edged Team Sask 5-4 in overtime in the quarter-final game. Broncos forward Geordie Wudrick scored in the B.C. win. Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario also advanced to the final four.

- What a scrap last night in Regina! As predicted, Aaron Boogard and Myles Stoesz went at it. The Leaderpost had pretty much set up the tilt in the paper yesterday morning. I was watching the game live on the WHL webcast. The fight occured just as the national anthem began for the Broncos game. Safe to say I wasn't "standing on guard" as I leaned over with colorman Ryan Switzer to check out the pre-meditated heavyweight bout. DECISION: BOOGARD

- It was four plus periods of hockey in Prince George last night. The Cougars and the Silvertips first had to play the third period of a game that was suspended earlier in the season because of dangerous ice conditions. They picked up the action in the third with the Cougars up 2-1. Everett tied it then won the game in a shootout. The Cougs got revenge in game two as they posted a 6-4 win.

- What an NHL Trade Deadline! Some big moves as teams bulk up for a playoff run. It was interesting to see how TSN and Sportsnet handled their coverage. The two TV heavyweights took much different approaches. TSN did the regular shtick while Sportsnet had a "Trade Deadline Bash". DECISION: TSN. They did a much better job of breaking the trades and getting in touch with the players who were just dealt. Sportsnet just had Bill Watters and Nick Kypreos fight over chicken wings. I didn't buy-in. What did you think?

We're on the air again tonight from Saskatoon at 6:30pm with the pre-game show, face-off at 7pm.

Have a good Wednesday,


Monday, February 26, 2007

Wanted: Two Points!

The Broncos and the Prince Albert Raiders battle for the 7th time this season tonight at the Civic Center. P.A. couldn't come in at a better time.

The Broncos have won all six meetings this season and will look to make it seven. The east division has tightened significantly over the last month - only 7 points separates 3rd place Prince Albert from 6th place Moose Jaw.

Both teams will be short a pair of 16 year-olds. The Broncos continue to be without Phil Gervais and Geordie Wudrick because of the Canada Winter Games. Prince Albert will be missing Jordan Trach and Blaine Tendler for the same reasons. Tendler is actually wearing the "C" for Team Alberta.

The Broncos have recalled 16 year-old Mike Brown from Calgary "AAA" midget. He's already made a solid appearance with the team in his hometown when the Broncos battled the Hitmen.

Swift Current needs an offensive injection. They've scored only three goals combined in the last three games.

The Raiders should come in with something to prove. They are also coming in on a winning note. They ended a mini slump Sunday night with a 3-1 win over Saskatoon.

Speaking of the Canada Winter Games, Geordie Wudrick is having a good tournament with Team B.C. B.C won both their games in their pool with Wudrick collecting a goal and three assists. Team BC is loaded with young talent. They should factor into the medals.

How about Team Saskatchewan laying the boots to the North West Territories? Saskatchewan outshot them 91-9! The final score was 13-0. In the words of Broncos Athletic Therapist Paul Ayotte who is working with Team Sask "it was like a midget team playing a pee wee team." Thanks for analysis Paul. Maybe we'll get you in the booth at some point this year or at least get you "mic'd up" from ice level.

You think that's bad?? Not even close! Last night Alberta outshot NWT 106-3!! Final score: 17-0. It was 8-0 after the 1st period and the shots were 42-1. No joke. Bronco forward Phil Gervais didn't score but he did add two assists.

Former Bronco and one of my favorites Jeremy Williams scored his 2nd career NHL goal last night in a 5-4 loss to Montreal. J-dub has only played in two career NHL games in the last two years but has two goals. Note to Toronto: keep him there for awhile. Mats Sundin picked up an assist as an exited Williams jumped into the air before being congratulated by the big Swede captain. I like the chat the TSN crew of Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire. It went like this:

Miller: A goal from Williams? That's an unlikely source for the Leafs.

McGuirs: Unlikely source? The guy had 52 goals to lead the WHL in his final year with the Swift Current Broncos.

Thanks for representing Pierre!

A couple of former Broncos were traded prior to the WHL trade deadline. Brent Sopel was re-acquired by Vancouver from L.A. Also Lawrence Nycholat was traded to Ottawa from Washington. The NHL trade deadline passes at 2pm today(Saskatchewan time).

Finally, here's a quick story from Regan Bartel courtesy Regan's Rant @ . It's regarding Everett Silvertips Coach Kevin Constantine.

"Saturday night in Seattle, Constantine is was up to his old antics by pulling his goaltender twice in a 4-1 loss.

What doesn’t make sense was Constantine pulls his goaltender for the extra attacker with his team down 2-0 with about 10 minutes left in the game.The T-Birds subsequently score to make it 3-0 before the Tips get a power play goal just minutes later to make it 3-1.

Had the Tips not surrendered the empty netter, it would have been a one goal game, not a two goal game because of the crazy move by the coach.

Constantine would pull the goaltender again with time ticking down, and again the T-Birds would score into the empty net to make the score 4-1.It’s not often you see a team score two empty net goals in one game. "

We're on the air at 7pm tonight with the Big Show. Face-off at 7:30pm.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Big Week Ahead

It's a huge week to say the least.

Prince Albert is here Tuesday, it's up to Saskatoon Wednesday, west to Medicine Hat Friday, and then on to Kootenay Saturday.

The first two games will be the key to the week. The Broncos host Prince Albert who as we speak lead Saskatoon 2-1 in the third period. A win by them would vault them past the Broncos for third in the east division. The Broncos are 6-0 vs P.A. this season and need the two points desperately with the the points race tightening up to a stretch run high from 3rd to 6th in the standings.

Wednesday, the Broncos need to dish up some revenge in Saskatoon. The Blades have had the Broncos number as the teams meet for the 8th and final time this season. The Blades lead the season series 5-2.

This team, like most right now will have to fight through injuries and a depleted line-up. This is the time when you play through those nagging injuries and get the job done. I'm not sure who the Broncos will be calling up this week depending on who's available.

Around the WHL it was a Saturday night fight-fest. A line brawl in Kamloops featured the Blazers and Cougars going at it midway in the 2nd. The Blazers have not had a good month of February and were obviously frustrated. Suddenly, the Blazers just look ok. A 6-5 OT loss to Chilliwack and a 6-3 loss to PG - both on home ice this weekend has the Blazers looking for answers.

Two heavyweights dropped the mits in S'toon last night. Garret Klotz and Aaron Boogard had a good battle early in the first period. Call it a draw, maybe a slight edge to Boogy junior.

Kelowna also showed some frustration late in their game with Chilliwack. With the score 7-1 in the third favoring the Bruins, back-to-back fights would break out. The main event being James Mcewan and Matt McCue.

Speaking of scraps, there was a line brawl to end the "AAA" Legionnaires season today. In a game carried on the Eagle 94.1 FM, the Regina Pat Canadians scored 8 goals on the powerplay (yes 8!) in a 9-2 thumping of the Legion. The hometown club finishes off the season winless in 15. I'm sure some couldn't wait for the season to be over.

The Western Womens Hockey League game was just ok Saturday night at the Civic Center. The Calgary Oval Extreme skated to a 6-2 win. All the big names from the Oval Extreme were absent. All of the national team members were no-shows due to prior or national team commitments. Some of the players that impressed included Carla Mcleod and Kaley Hall. The rematch was earlier today at the Fairview.

I know a lot of the Broncos went to a special birthday party today. "Kyle", a special needs boy who helps out in the Broncos dressing room had a birthday party that most of the team made it out to.

Just listening . . . the Raiders add the empty-netter for the 3-1 win over Saskatoon to jump by the Broncos by a single point for 3rd in the east division. The good news is that the Blades are held at bay. They sit in 5th place - 5 points back of the Broncos.

Here's how it looks now:

Raiders 56
Broncos 55
Blades 50
Warriors 49

Top two in, bottom two out.

Check back for a game preview on Monday,

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Rumble Strips

That's what caused a frightening sound in the middle of the night when the bus leaned too close to the side of the road at 2:05am on the way home from Brandon. It's a sound you never really get used to. It's there to alert the driver he's over too far and scare the s#*t out of all the passengers at the same time

I was wide awake. Myself along with Dean and Dave watched the snow covered Transcanada highway somewhere between Grenfell and Regina as Dan the bus driver crawled slowly along. The coaching staff contemplated pulling over or getting rooms in Regina as they worked their cellphones and blackberrys trying to get the latest highway conditions.

After a brief stop in the Queen City, the bus rolled on only to find much better conditions on the other side of Regina and onward to Moose Jaw. It kind of puts a 2-1 loss in Brandon in perspective after a white knuckle trip home like that.

The boys played hard and gave themselves a chance to get points. It was a more experienced Brandon powerplay that scored the winner as the teams traded PP chances in the third. The Broncos pulled the goaltender for the extra attacker and had chances. Twice the puck pin balled to the goal but to no avail. Joe Caliguri in the Brandon net found the puck first before the Bronco forwards crashing the goal.

Dale Wiese had a glorious PP chance in the third but was robbed. Set up in front with Caliguri out of position I was already in "goal call mode". It didn't happen, and I didn't know what happened. In talking with Dale after the game, he said Caliguri dove across and got a piece of his glove on it. "The best save I've ever seen," said Wiese as the team loaded the bus.

Jeremy Schenderling scored the Broncos only goal just 43 seconds into the game after a Caliguri giveaway behind his net. Kyle Moir was stellar making 36 saves as the game's 3rd star.

Would some team please step up and say "I WANT TO MAKE PLAYOFFS!" Saskatoon has only one win in their last seven games 1-5-0-1. The win was a victory over the Broncos.

Moose Jaw is 3-4 in their last seven games. Last night on home ice was supposed to be about getting an emotional lift from the return of Garret Robinson. They were bombed 9-3 by the Hitmen. Calgary led 3-0 even before the last note of Oh Canada was delivered.

Prince Albert has lost six in a row (0-5-0-1) but still remain in 4th in the division. PA hosts Saskatoon Sunday. They've dominated the Blades all season (6-1). They then come here to take on the Broncos Tuesday. The Broncos are a perfect 6-0.

Swift Current is 2-10-0-1 in their last 13 games - both wins have come against Prince Albert.

So what team(s) is going to make a stand? Stay tuned.

Sorry Regan for the delay in posting. I saw your game recap from Kelowna was almost instantaneous with the end of a 5-3 loss to Lethbridge. No, Kelly didn't make me cry. We always have spirited chats. Here's my favorite line from last night.

JK: There was another story in the Brandon Sun today fanning the flames for tonight's game, saying it could be a war. Do you think they do a good job of fueling the fire between these teams?

Kelly Mac: I don't know Jon, you'll have to ask James Shewaga (Brandon Sun Reporter), he's the big chubby guy in the press box beside you.

It's become clear to me I need to pick up a digital camera to help enhance this blog. I could have pictures from the road, and other fun moments that happen throughout the course of a trip. I could take a pic of a sickly looking Mike Fraser (my colorman last night) after too many at Houstons the night before, (sorry Mike). I think that's the next thing on the list. I've seen some great blogs lately that use the picture element nicely.

No Saturday night off, it's down to the Western Women's Hockey League game between the Calgary Oval Extreme and the Saskatchewan Prairie Ice tonight at the Civic Center.

More tomorrow, I promise.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Live From Brandon . . .

It was a nice afternoon drive to the wheat city yesterday as the club pulled in just after 6pm. Dean took the guys to one of his family friends' restaurants for heaping plates of spaghetti and chicken alfredo. Hopefully the team had their fill, they will need the energy tonight against the red hot Wheaties.

Brandon is coming off a 2-0 shutout win over Kootenay Wednesday night. Tyler Plante who may be the biggest hot and cold 'tender in the league posted the blank in goal. Brandon is 6-2-0-1 in February while the Broncos are 2-5-0-1. It's the 7th meeting of the season between the clubs with the Broncos winning the first three, the Wheaties the last three.

The Brandon media is fueling a potential war tonight. James Shewaga of the Brandon Sun penned a preview in today's daily paper. "If they want to come in and play rough, we have no problem with that," said Wheat Kings captain Mark Derlago. "I think guys were standing up for themselves last game, which is good to see. And if they want to try and take penalties, hopefully our powerplay is going and will make them pay.."

The Broncos have recalled Cody Eakin to help fill out the roster. He will play his 3rd WHL game of his career.

Kyle Moir is six games away from breaking the WHL record for most games played as a goaltender career. He will get the start again tonight.

Hey, it's only -9 in Brandon today! That's the warmest it's ever been. Last night it was about -12 but the windchill made it feel like -38 so I guess Brandon continues to live up to it's billing as "coldest in the WHL"

Donovan Fehr filled in this morning for the sportsrun at the radio station. Thanks Dono! Legionnaires got pumped again 9-2 up in Prince Albert. We have their final game of the season on the radio Sunday afternoon. Outlaw Kenny Audette did last night's game in P.A. He won't be thrilled when he opens the paper to see a "letter to the editor" talking about how good his replacement was for public address duties at the Broncos game. Gordie Cameron filled in for Kenny while he was away at a family funeral. He did a good job, but so does Kenny. I think a letter to the paper is a bit extreme. The paper I'm sure more than gladly printed it . . . a little dig at the radio station if you will.

Speaking of the Legionnaires, General Manager Jim Dekowny had a mishap yesterday. He was gathering the trophies from the Civic Center for the team's awards banquet. He was carting them out when he hit a rut and dumped them all over the parking lot. A couple broke in half . . . it's been a long season hasn't it Jimmy.

Have you heard new newsie Jessica Williams? Wow, she sounds great. She's been a welcomed addition to the Eagle 94.1/Magic 97/CKSW 570 newsroom. She comes to us from Prince George. We both agree P.G. doesn't smell very nice. She sounds big city no doubt. Tune in if you get the chance.

I had a nice chat with the Prairie Post's George Bowditch before the last Broncos game. I like George. He's very refreshing in his approach. I always enjoy talking with him, he's a nice man. Look for his article coming soon as he chats with Broncos Chaiman of the Board Joe Arling. We'll have to play some golf together this summer . . .

Gotta go, Brandon has one of the best coffee shops around "Forbidden Flavors", I think Hunch is buying. Oh wait, he doesn't have any change on him. Don't worry I got it! Does this mean I have to go outside? Where's my toque?

We're on the air tonight at 7pm. Play-by-play at 7:30pm.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Careful For What You Wish For

As far as I'm concerned, Carey Price could have worked the gate in the Americans bench last night and that would have been just fine by me.

Instead, he starred in a 4-1 Americans victory making 40 saves - some of the spectacular variety.

The game began with a heavyweight tilt between Myles Rumsey and Aaron Boogard. Myles can't really event be considered a heavyweight based on sheer size. But yet, he's a willing combatant so game on. Boogard is flat-out a monster. While not as tall as older brother Derek, his mass of 245 pounds more than makes up for it. I saw him before the game and thought "he's a man amongst boys". Credit Myles for answering the challenge. Myles did his best to get in close rather than trade with the Ams' tough guy. Rumsey was definetely outmatched in the strength department but held his own.

The Americans scored early - only 3:25 in to take a 1-0 lead. The Ams built on their lead in the 2nd period on a goal in front from Shawn Vey. Then a 3rd period screen shot from the blueline courtesy Brock Cornish made it 3-0. The way Carey Price was playing, you knew that would be more than enough for the Ams to hold on.

Bronco defenseman Eric Doyle's goal with five minutes to play gave the Broncos temporary life before Aaron Boogard's empty-netter closed off the scoring.

I agree it's nice to see Carey Price play even though he was the biggest factor in the outcome. It's the first time he's ever played on Civic Center ice as he was injured last time the Americans rolled on through. Don't get me wrong, I would much prefer a Broncos win but it wasn't a bad parting gift. It's the first time Tri-City has beaten the Broncos since November of 2002.

The Broncos hit the road later this afternoon, hopefully beating a blizzard that is supposed to settle in through southern Saskatchewan later today. The team will battle the Wheat Kings tomorrow night. With 11 games left in the regular season, 3rd through 6th in the east division continues to get tighter. Here are the standings:

Pats 61

Broncos 55

Raiders 54

Warriors 49

Blades 48

In other tidbits . . .

How 'bout Anthony Heuer? The Swift Current product was named the SJHL's MVP this week. He played a major factor in the Melville Millionaires making the playoffs. He recorded 24 wins with a GAA of 2.87 and a save percentage of .919. After November 18th, Heuer didn't allow more than four goals in a game. He's the first Millionaire to win MVP honors since Brian Propp did it as a 16 year old in 1976.

Good for Tony who never played "AAA" midget in Swift Current, rather "AA" for the Hurricanes. He was a late bloomer of sorts. When Heuer was in goal for the "AA" Hurricanes, the "AAA" Legionnaires had the goaltending tandem of Russ Monette (last year's SJHL Player of the Year) and Andrew Leslie (Broncos, Rebels, Blades, Warriors). Leslie is having a great season in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League as a 20 year old.

The Broncos are hoping Cody Eakin will be available for action tomorrow night in Brandon. The Broncos 1st overall bantam pick from this past summer has already played two games with the team.

I'll post again later from Brandon once we arrive,


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Broncos Host Ams

Well, this should be interesting.

The Broncos host the Tri-City Americans tonight at the Civic Center as they begin an east division road swing that will seem them take on the entire division over 10 days.

Carey Price (pictured left), will likely get the start in goal. He didn't play against the Broncos last season because of injury. He faced the Broncos once over his career. It was the 04/05 season when the Broncos picked up a 4-2 win in Kennewick, WA. Price, a 1st round pick of the Montreal Canadiens has become virtually a household name ever since leading Canada to a World Junior gold medal in Sweden. He will be one of our guests in the pre-game show on the Eagle 94.1 FM.

It's unlikely Colton Yellowhorn (left) will play against the Broncos tonight. Yellowhorn is tied with Reid Jorgensen of Kamloops for the most goals in the WHL with 39. He's suffering from a leg injury and didn't practice yesterday when the Ams took to the Civic Center ice. He's on the trip and is listed as day-to-day.

The Americans bolstered their blueline at the WHL trade deadline by acquiring the rights to Russian Roman Tesliuk from Kamloops. Tesliuk was playing pro hockey in the East Coast Hockey League before coming back to the WHL.

Also at the deadline, defenseman T.J. Fast left American college hockey to join the Ams. The former Camrose Kodiak of the AJHL.

The Americans are a staggering 21-7 against teams outside the tough U.S. division. It appears they are locked in 2nd spot behind Everett and ahead of Seattle and Spokane who continue to jockey for position.

The last time the Ams beat the Broncos was November 29th, 2002. They blasted Swift Current 8-2 that night in Kennewick. Since then the Broncos have recorded two wins and a tie in the last three seasons.

The Broncos will be without Phil Gervais (Team Alberta) and Geordie Wudrick (Team B.C.) who will attend the Canada Winter Games in the Yukon. They have recalled 16 year-old Justin Dowling for the game. Defenseman Eric Doyle is also expected back after missing three games with an upper-body injury.

Former Bronco sniper Jeremy Williams has been suspended three games by the American Hockey League. The suspension follows a knee-on-knee hit in a game against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Williams has served two games and will miss the Marlies next game against the Manitoba Moose.

We're on the air at 7pm with the pre-game show. We will take a closer look at the Western Women's Hockey League doubleheader this weekend in the city between the Calgary Oval Extreme and the Saskatchewan Prairie Ice. Play-by-play with myself and Ryan Switzer ( ) at 7:30pm.

I'll post a game recap before the team heads off to Brandon tomorrow afternoon.

See you at the game,

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Local Hockey Buzzing

It seems everyone and their dog had a hockey stick in their hand this weekend.

Every league in the southwest was busy including all three senior leagues. The Whitemud, Notekeu and Sask Valley Senior Hockey League all had playoff and provincial games.

For many towns, senior hockey is the lifeblood in the winter time. Nothing brings a town together like a Friday night game at the local rink complete with rink burgers and hot chocolate. I can still remember the buzzing sound coming from the hot chocolate maker as the folks gather in the intermissions. When we were young used to hang-out at ice level and pound on the boards with our big ski-doo mitts. With no glass in the way, you kept a close eye on those defenseman as they spun and fired the puck trying to clear the zone.

There is also something about spring-like weather that makes you think playoffs. The warm, melting, conditions always remind me of the post-season. I'm sure this is the case for several hockey enthusiasts.

The Tri City Americans make their only visit to the Civic Center tomorrow night. The "Brocket Rocket" Colton Yellowhorn has missed the last handful of games with a leg injury. It's unclear whether he'll play or not. One thing for sure, Yellowhorn loves the Civic Center ice and routinely had some large games as a member of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The Ams kick-off a six game east division swing. Usually the Broncos catch the U.S. teams at the end of the road trip. Not this time. The Ams should be fresh and ready to go. I'll post a game-preview tomorrow.

The Broncos will be without at least three regulars. Phil Gervais and Geordie Wudrick have joined Team Alberta and Team B.C. for the Canada Winter Games. The third regular out will be Broncos Athletic Therapist Paul Ayotte. He has joined the Canada Games training staff and will also work with Team Saskatchewan. The trio will be away until the first week in March. In Paul's absence, Duane Doan will help out from a medical standpoint and Murray Knaoske will handle equipment duties.

I hope everyone is calmed down since Saturday's loss to Saskatoon. I don't expect the Broncos coaching staff to be in that great of a mood for the next couple days. Maybe a win over Tri City tomorrow night will make that trip to Brandon a bit shorter.

Game preview coming shortly,


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Sorry for the late post. I just needed some time to think about my stance on last night's game vs the Blades.

Which position do you want to take right now with this team? I must admit it's often easier to take the "half empty" approach. I'll break down both arguments and you can decide.

Half Empty

Some fans would agree that it's not the losses, it the way this team is losing. Home games haven't been close lately when the Broncos are on the short end. 7-2 against Regina, 3-0 vs Spokane, 9-6 vs Moose Jaw, 6-1 vs Red Deer, 6-3 vs Brandon and last night's 7-1 loss to Saskatoon. Some nights this team just can't stop the bleeding. 4-0 turns to 6-0, 4-1 leads to 7-1. That is awfully frustrating for fans to see the score being run up like that on home ice. It's embarrassing really. I feel bad for our guys, for our fans.

Goaltending. Where has it been since the trade deadline? Last night or maybe the game vs Moose Jaw was the worst it's been all season. Our goalies appear shaky from the get-go and can't pull it together. Shots go in from everywhere. Even lady luck turns sour and funny hops and bounces end up in the back of the net. I was very disappointed last night with this aspect of the game. Our goaltenders have to be more prepared to play. Broncos Assistant Coach Dave Hunchak and I got into it during the post-game Coaches Show. He refused to point fingers when everyone else in the building saw what happened. Hunch has to take that stand and I don't blame him. It's a team game and that's the bottom line. It got interesting as you may have heard, but when the mics go off, we're cool and I respect him for that. I think he knows I have a job to do and have to keep my credibility with Bronco fans who no doubt would want to ask the same questions. I work for the radio station not the Broncos and sometimes my reporter instincts get the best of me. If I worked for the team, maybe I don't get into as much detail. As a (former) goaltender I know how much a bad goal can sag a team. There's nothing worse then battling hard only to see a softy go in from long range. When players look to the ceiling in dis-belief after a goal, that's a bad sign. I've seen it before first-hand. It can really be a breaking point of a game.

We had a chance to virtually end the playoff hopes of the Saskatoon Blades and didn't show up. If the Broncos win that game, that's pretty much it for the Blades playoff chances. They knew it too. They were playing with their season on the line and were not afraid to share that fact in the pre-game interviews I had. The Broncos knew it was coming. They were flat as they committed 19 turnovers in the first period alone.

Is that enough "half empty" examples? I'm sure there are more but we'll move on.

Half Full

There are still several positives one can look at. This team is still sitting in 3rd place in the east division after the weekend after climbing past Prince Albert by a single point. 3rd place! To be honest the WHL pundits had pegged this team to finish as high as 4th and as low as 6th in the division this season. Many people thought the playoff teams would be Regina, Moose Jaw, Brandon, Saskatoon in that order. That was the consensus. That still may happen, but it's not the likely scenario. One could still make the case this team is over-achieving based on their ranking in the east division.

If you've followed this blog for awhile, you would remember the "Cruel Summer" post when I recapped a tough 2002 bantam draft for this team, (it's in the November archives on this site if you're interested). The players picked that year would be our 19 year-olds this season. They are the core of any team looking to make a playoff run. It was the toughest draft year maybe in history for this team. Of the four 19 year-olds on this team, none came from that draft. Jerrid Sauer, a 6th round pick was traded to Medicine Hat for Spencer McAvoy and Dale Wiese. That is all we have to show presently for that draft year. My point is, on paper, this wasn't supposed to be "the year" for this club. Don't worry it's coming. I believe that. A bright future lies ahead.

Here's another half full approach. The Broncos still made out ok this weekend in the standings. Entering, they were seven points ahead of Saskatoon and nine ahead of Moose Jaw. They still are, but each team now has two less games remaining. Plus, they jumped ahead of the Raiders for third. The Broncos can tread water with these teams the rest of the regular season. It's the other three that have to start making up ground. Plus they gained two points on Regina over the last two nights and are six back of the Pats for 2nd place and home ice advantage. Not bad.

So, there are two ways you can look at the situation. It's up to you what approach you want to take. Now it's your turn. What position do you want to take? Let's hear from you.

Hey, good luck to Phil Gervais and Geordie Wudrick who have now left the team for the Canada Winter Games in the Yukon to represent the provinces of Alberta and B.C. Bring home some hardware boys.

Safe travels to all the Broncos family who made it here for Parents Weekend. See you all on the road.

Enjoy the rest of your long weekend. Now, it's off to the outdoor rink for some fun.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

So Far So Good

It's Saturday afternoon, I just had lunch with my friend Switzer and now it's into the gameday routine as the Broncos get set to battle the ailing Saskatoon Blades tonight in seven hours.

It was a fun night at the Civic Center as the boys played a solid team game en-route to the 4-1 win to jump back into 3rd spot in the east division - a point better than Prince Albert. All the Bronco parents were in attendance for "parents weekend", more on that in a second.

Is there any way we can play the Raiders 14 times a season rather than 8? They always seem to rescue the Broncos in tough times. As was the case last Friday night when the Broncos ended a six game slide with a 3-2 win.

The line of Bortis/Stieler/McAvoy and the Leavold/Nelson/Schenderling trio each scored twice in the victory, all six players had two points apiece. Kyle Moir was solid making 27 saves and did a great job with the rebound control.

Great job Levi Nelson. He stuck to the plan and played a solid game for his team and was rewarded with the 3rd star for his efforts. That's the Levi that can really help the team.

It was an odd game with four separate 5-on-3 situations. The Raiders lone goal came on a 5-on-3 for over two minutes after three consecutive Bronco penalties. The Broncos finished 1/10 on the powerplay.

The game also featured four fights including a pair from rookie Phil Gervais. Grant Toulmin's first ever WHL scrap just happened to be against WHL penalty minute leader Mike Gauthier. He did fine. He knew who he was up against and did his best to get in close. Trading blows wouldn't have been a very viable option.

After the game was a fantastic parents/players social. Isn't it funny how these events are always much better after a Bronco win? I love talking to the parents, they are so appreciative of the games on the radio/Internet and always have some nice things to say. Ryan and I thank-you. It's honor to broadcast the games into your living room. Janet Postma (our biggest fan!) it was good to see you last night again. Thanks for the pep talk. I;m sorry I can never get your daughters straight. Big Bob Molle, Darrel Moir (and his Stampeder trash talk, haha), Gloria and Darryl Rumsey, Brian Leavold, Jackie Larochelle, Kody Nelson, Nick Toulmin, plus Miroslav and Audrina Rakos - thanks for all saying hi. It was awesome to talk to the Rakos family all the way from the Czech Republic. It's there first visit to Canada and by all accounts they are enjoying themselves . . . minus the cold weather. Miroslav even offered me his "hockey horn". He has this noisemaker that is famous in Europe. You know when you watch a game from the World Juniors from overseas and you hear that constant duck-call like sound in the crowd? This is where it comes from. Miroslav and Audrina truly benefit from the WHL webcasts. They go to bed at night, set the alarm clock for 2:30am, then getup and watch their son play a live game from their computer. They go back to bed after and then off to work in the morning. That's awesome.

Ryan is going to post something on the Broncos parents. You can click the link on the right hand side to check that out Switzer's Blog.

How good was fill-in public address announcer Gordie Cameron last night!? He's the best rodeo announcer there is and he just added Broncos PA announcer to the list. His energy level and crisp, professional voice just makes you get into the game. Broncos are 1-0 with Gordie. I hope he's there tonight. Maybe I'll go over a few name pronunciations with him pre-game tonight but nonetheless did a great job.

It's the Saskatoon Blades tonight. A Broncos win would pretty much eliminate the Blades from catching them in the standings. The Blades are hurting on the blue line. With injuries to Joe Logan, Teigan Zahn, and Bohdan Vishnak they have a virtual MASH unit in place. They've called up some "AAA" midget help and have moved Colton Gillies back to help out. The Broncos have to take advantage of this and pound their back-end tonight.

We're on the air at 7pm with the Big Show, 7:30 play-by-play.

See you tonight,

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pivotal Weekend

First up,

Let's give Levi Nelson a break. I think he's been beat up enough lately. I'm sure the coaches have addressed the situation. Let his play to the talking this weekend. He's a good kid and I know he'll rebound.

Bottom line, he has the most raw talent on the team and is only 18 years-old. A bright WHL future lies ahead. He will be our leader the next couple seasons when this team takes the next step.

Broncos and the Prince Albert Raiders tonight in a battle for 3rd spot in the east division. The Raiders hold a one point edge entering tonight's game after losing a shootout in Red Deer 3-2. The Broncos are 5-0 against them this season as they head into their biggest weekend of the season.

Here's my prediction. A pair of Bronco wins tonight against the Raiders and tomorrow night against the Blades will virtually lock up a playoff spot for this club. It's a great chance to stop looking in the rear-view mirror and start focusing on the teams ahead. They also need time to get their game in shape for the post-season.

A pair of losses and the momentum will have shifted in favor of the Raiders, Blades and Moose Jaw. This is huge Bronco fans, this weekend could tell the story for the rest of the season.

Tonight on the pre-game show we'll talk with the General Manager and Head Coach of the hottest team in the WHL. Medicine Hat's Will Desjardins will be our guest. He's guided the Tigers to 15 straight wins and a #2 position in the CHL Top 10. The Tigers are playing their best hockey of the season. They still play the Broncos two more times before the end of the season. Hopefully they can make it 16 when they host Saskatoon tonight.

Lots of sports around town plus playoff and provincial hockey on the go . . . and it's Saskatchewan's first ever Family and Heritage Day on Monday (aka a February long weekend!)

Have a good one,


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Playoff Races Heat Up

Unless you're the Portland Winter Hawks . . . you're in one.

It doesn't matter if it's the East, Central, B.C., or U.S. division, there is a playoff race to be had either at the top or at the bottom. Only Portland has been officially eliminated from post-season contention.

In the U.S. division, the four teams are set with Everett getting close to clinching the division crown. They lead 2nd place Tri-City by 18 points. 2nd spot through 4th is up for grabs. Here's how it shakes down:

Tri City - 72 points - 16 games remaining

Spokane - 68 points - 13 games remaining

Seattle - 65 points - 14 games remaining

The B.C. division has two great races to follow down the stretch - one for the division title, the other for the last playoff spot. With Prince George firmly planted in third, the Vancouver Giants and Kamloops Blazers should battle to the final weekend for the banner. Here's how it looks:

Vancouver 81 points - 14 games remaining

Kamloops 79 points - 15 games remaining

If the teams end up tied, the tie-breaker would likely go to Kamloops who presently have more wins and have already won the season series.

The battle for the final playoff spot is between Kelowna and Chilliwack:

Kelowna 42 points - 15 games remaining

Chilliwack 39 points - 13 games remaining

Whoever makes the post-season from these teams will be in tough. They will likely get their token playoff revenue from games three and four. The hometown fans will then get to say goodbye and salute the team's 20 year-old players.

The Central division also has some great playoff races. First, for the division title between Medicine Hat and Kootenay. Here's how it looks:

Medicine Hat 92 points - 11 games remaining

Kootenay 86 points - 13 games remaining

The Tigers don't appear like the foot will be taken off the gas pedal anytime soon. With 15 wins in a row, the Tigers are in control. The Ice may need to win all 13 games if they even want a shot at the division crown.

There is a three-way battle for the final two playoff spots between Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge. Calgary isn't out of the woods yet, even though they have an 8 point lead over 5th place Lethbridge. Here's the breakdown:

Calgary 69 points - 12 games remaining

Red Deer 66 points - 13 games remaining

Lethbridge 61 points - 14 games remaining

Of Red Deer's last 13 games - 12 are against teams with a record over .500, the last week of the regular season may tell the story. The Rebels play Calgary twice and Lethbridge twice all in a span of 7 days! It's like the schedule makers had a crystal ball.

As for Lethbridge, they play 10 straight games on the road beginning Friday in Chilliwack. Their building is being used for the Scott Tournament of Hearts and will have to get it done on the road. Of their 14 games remaining, only 8 are against teams with records above .500. They still have games against Kelowna, Chilliwack, Portland, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert and Saskatoon. Even though they trail Red Deer by five points for the last spot, my money is on the 'Canes to get into the post-season.

Of course the East division has some battles too. Brandon by no means has clinched the division, but a 10 point gap will be tough to close for the Regina Pats. The Pats are hot but making up 10 points at this point is a stretch. Brandon only has two games left on the road.

The real battle is for playoff spots with Prince Albert, Swift Current, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw.

Here's the breakdown:

Prince Albert - 54 points - 15 games remaining

Swift Current - 53 points - 14 games remaining

Saskatoon - 46 points - 17 games remaining

Moose Jaw - 43 points - 16 games remaining

I've looked over the schedules for all teams at length. Every team has about the same looking schedule. It will be the head-to-head battles that decide the outcome. Swift Current and Prince Albert still play each other three times beginning tomorrow night at the Civic Center. Swift Current, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw all play each other twice.

I like this time of year almost more than the playoffs. There is something on the line every night whether you're playing or scoreboard watching. Enjoy the stretch run!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Enemy #1

He might as well just wear a bulls-eye.

Levi Nelson is no doubt at the top of several "hit lists" around the Western Hockey League. Let me see . . . Regina, Calgary, Prince Albert, Red Deer, Medicine Hat and unmistakeably the Brandon Wheat Kings as proven last night. The Wheat Kings were motivated as they skated to a 6-3 win thanks to four powerplay goals.

Agree or disagree on this but Levi's role of trying to get under the oppositions skin has hurt this Broncos hockey club lately. It is serving little purpose right now. I like Levi and think he's a great kid, I love his pre-game enthusiasm but I can't condone his chippy play. Especially when it hurts his game and the team's chances of winning. I much prefer the Levi Nelson who is out getting points and flying up the ice with the puck. Not the one looking over his shoulder for the next opposition player about to take a run at him.
As I mentioned on the broadcast the other night, Levi can either put up points or agitate, but can't do both at the same time. He has to find the right mix.
Here are a few things from last night's game that caught my attention.

1. Levi is hit hard by Darryl Boyle early in the 1st period. No penalty on the hit but Jeremy Schenderling is forced into retaliating for his linemate. The end result. A Wheaties PP (which they score on) and a total of 17 minutes of penalties for Schenderling. How can we have one of our 20 year-olds in the box for 17 minutes?

2. A scrum breaks out in the third period with the Wheat Kings again going after Nelson. Linemate Brady Leavold (our January Player of the Month) is the one to drop the gloves in his defense. Leavold's night is done. It's not like Levi steers clear of the penalty box in these situations either. As is the case, Nelson does enough talking while being saved by the linesman to pick up a 10-minute misconduct.

3. He's awaking a sleeping giant. Why are we trying to rattle powerhouse teams like Medicine Hat and Brandon up? Let sleeping dogs lie. We should try and limit the chances of these top notch PP's. They are seemingly dissecting the Broncos penalty-kill most nights. The Broncos haven't proven they can win the intense playoff-like games this season. The more the game turns into a war, the more I don't like their chances.

There are other aspects too. Nelson has already been suspended two games for a knee-on-knee hit on Brandon's Dustin Kohn. He can't help the team in the stands.
Levi has many positives but they have to start out-weighing the negatives. Teammates I'm sure are getting tired of going to war for him just so they can spend some quality time in the penalty box together. Referees in this league have caught on, they aren't naive They are aware of how these things start.
I would compare it to a Derek Dorsett situation. Referees are always watching for him. He can't get away with much anymore. The difference is the more Dorsett is involved in a game, the more he will hurt you. He can score, fight, hit - all while rattling the opposition.
I haven't talked to one fan that has said "I sure like the way Levi is playing right now". Ok, that's not true, Big Ern must be loving this.

Am I out to lunch here? Do you agree or disagree? This is open for debate.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tuesday Night Clash

It's the Broncos and Wheat Kings tonight at the Civic Center for the 7th time this season. The Broncos have the season series edge at 4-1-0-1 but Brandon has won the last two games.
The Wheaties have some of the best forwards in the WHL and don't mind opening things up a little. Mark Derlago (34 goals), Codey Burki (64 points) and Juraj Simek are just three players to watch for.
On the back end, the Wheaties will be without their captain Theran Yeo who broke his wrist a couple weeks ago in a pre-game skate before hosting the Broncos. Dustin Kohn is the leader of the blueliners. Kohn is an all-situations d-man including the powerplay QB.
Brandon is in "now or never" mode with this year's team. As the 2nd oldest team in the WHL (average age:18.33) the Wheat Kings will take a big hit next year. They will lose 20 year-olds Mark Derlago, Rob Klinkhammer, and Jeff Topilko. They will also likely lose 19 year-olds Codey Burki, Dustin Kohn and Juraj Simek to pro hockey. That leaves them with a decision for their three overage spots between Tyler Plante, Tyler Dittmer, Bryan Kauk, Ryan Reaves, Theran Yeo, Daryll Boyle, and Mark Louis.

Brandon G.M. Kelly Macrimmon has faced tougher situations before and always seems to make the most of it. He'll have his hands full next year for sure.
The Broncos try to snap a five-game home ice losing skid tonight. Tied with Prince Albert for third in the east, the Broncos need to get it done on home ice down the stretch. Prince Albert plays in Medicine Hat.

Coming up on tonight's pre-game show we'll take a closer look at the latest WHL trend - good ol' fashion line brawls! In back-to-back weekends, the league has had to deal with two skirmishes. The league is doing their best to help curb this activity. In fact they say they are winning the battle. WHL Vice President of Hockey Richard Doerksen will be our guest. He says they have come a long ways even since the 2000-2001 season when one team had seven line brawls in one season alone. We'll get his take on how fines and suspensions are handed out following what they call a "multiple fight situation". The WHL believes fighting is very much a part of the game as long as it fits into the league guidelines. Have a listen just after 7pm.

Lastly, another fellow WHL broadcaster has entered "blog-nation". Former Broncos play-by-play host and good friend Regan Bartel has thrown his hat into the ring. The six-year voice of the Kelowna Rockets can be found at .
Broncos and Wheaties tonight @ 7:30pm. The pre-game show on the Eagle 94.1 FM begins at 7pm.

I'll have a recap following the game,

Monday, February 12, 2007

Too Little, Too Late

It's happened so frequently, you almost expect it. But it was a no-go last night.

Down 4-1 to the Calgary Hitmen in the third period, the Broncos would make it interesting with back-to-back goals just over a minute a part from Dale Wiese and Daniel Rakos shorthanded.

The goalie would be pulled in the last minute but the Broncos never got that bonafide chance in the dying seconds to force overtime. It would have been unbelievable had the Broncos rallied back for a third straight game in the final frame.

Brodie Dupont was everywhere last night. His 2 goals and 1 assist and superior penalty killing was the biggest factor in the Hitmen win.

Kyle Moir watched the third period from the bench after being replaced by Travis Yonkman. Yonkman had an easy third period only seeing five shots.

Whats the status on Alex Plante? The Hitmen defenseman crashed awkwardly into the corner boards after colliding with Levi Nelson. Plante landed into the boards in an awful position sort of a shoulder/head first crash. He made it off the ice pretty much under his own strength but noticeably favoring his shoulder. I'm not a doctor but it appeared to be a broken collarbone or separated shoulder. He left the rink in an ambulance. There was no penalty on the play despite pleas from the Hitmen bench for a boarding call. What a talented 17 year-old defenseman he is who plays the game well beyond his years.

I like the Hitmen hockey club. They have solid defense anchored by Karl Alzner and Dylan Yeo. Their top two lines are as good as any in the WHL. They won't lose a whole lot next season depending on who signs contracts and makes the jump to pro hockey.

In the end, the Broncos split the weekend gaining two points on Prince Albert and Saskatoon and staying even with Moose Jaw after they were 1-2 on their Central division road swing.

More stories are surrounding the dismissal of Warriors Head Coach Steve Young. They are just rumors and here-say so I'll leave them out of the blog. They do raise one's eyebrow that for sure.

Finally, some nice words from the principal at the Comp High School regarding the Broncos as students. Bryan Braun and I were at the "AAA" Legionnaires game Saturday night. He says the guys fit right in with everyone and don't think of themselves as better than anyone. He says they're great kids and have been a pleasure to have at the school. That's great to hear, thanks Bryan.

Broncos and Brandon tomorrow night at the Civic Center in the 7th of 8 meetings this season. The Broncos are 4-1-0-1 against the division leaders this season.

Speaking of the Legionnaires, this team is in trouble. What a terrible weekend for a "parents social". They were outscored on home ice by the league leading Prince Albert Mintos 24-3 in the two games. Make it 11 straight losses for the Home Hardware crew. With several players graduating or choosing not to return it looks like the futility will continue barring a huge recruiting undetaking.

More later,

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sid the Kid: My Story

A rare Saturday evening out of the broadcast booth allowed me to catch some of the Leafs/Penguins game on "Hockey Night in Canada" . . . I must say I love watching Sidney Crosby play the game. I rarely get a chance during the hockey season but he is something special isn't he?
I had a chance to meet and interview Crosby at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa. The new CBA had just been ratified and the NHL draft, although scaled down a bit was held at the Westin Hotel's biggest ballroom in downtown Ottawa.
Having met Crosby and his family the day before the draft at the Top Prospects Luncheon, I thought to myself "boy there's a lot of hype surrounding this kid, he's being touted as the Next One and he's yet to put up a point in the NHL." He was great, all weekend. He answered every question (as repetitive as they might have been from the media throngs across Canada and North America) with a smile and was very humble in his words.
The next day at the draft after Crosby was taken 1st overall by Pittsburgh (what a shocker!) the NHL media relations department was granting all media one-on-one interviews with Crosby. You see, at the time the NHL had a lot of people to win over after the lengthy lock-out. They wanted their new and old stars to be completely accessible by the fans and the media. They were in major PR mode and I was about to take full advantage. I was 3rd in line for a one-on-one with Crosby that we later aired on the Eagle 94.1 FM with our weekend long draft coverage.
I started by saying "Hey, nice shirt and tie." Sidney and myself by chance were wearing the same shirt and tie combo. If you look at the picture you'll notice the blue, white and silver speckled tie with the light blue dress shirt. If you've seen my around the rink you'll know that's one of my "go-to combos", or as Dean Chynoweth calls it "in your number ones". Sidney laughed and said "we better not be seen together the rest of the day". The interview was only a few questions . . . TSN, Sportsnet, and The Score were all waiting in line.
We were all wearing lanyards around our neck identifying who we were and who we worked for. Crosby's lanyard just had an NHL logo on it and identified him as a "Top Prospect". I've never done this except this one time. I asked if he would sign it for me. He graciously agreed. I'm not in the business of asking sports figures for their autograph but I made this one exception.
So I'm glad to see he's living up to all the hype as he presently leads the NHL in scoring in his 2nd season and the early favorite for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
Broncos and Hitmen tomorrow night @ 7pm, now it's off to make the most of my Saturday night off.

Raiders to the Rescue

There we go . . . that's more like it.

For the 5th time this season the Broncos knocked off the Raiders, this time with a 3-2 victory up at the Art Hauser Center. It was a good effort by our boys who came out and played a good first period. The first two goals came 1:03 apart on a 5-on-3 then a 5-on-4 powerplay. An Eric Doyle point shot was tipped home nicely by Kyle Bortis parked in front of the Raiders goal. Then, on the 5-on-4, the Kyle Bortis shot was rebounded out to David Stieler who would put it home for the early two-goal lead.

The Raiders didn't generate much 5-on-5 but did have their chances on the powerplay. They would make it 2-1 midway through the 2nd on a PP goal from Ryan Depape who deflected a Ryan McDonald point-shot. Just 1:36 later the Broncos restored the two-goal advatage off a 2-on-2 rush. Jeremy Schenderling's shot would generate a rebound to Levi Nelson who went hard to the net to put it home. 3-1 Broncos through 40 minutes.

The Broncos played a nice first half of the third period giving Prince Albert only one scoring chance by my count. Penalties though would give the Raiders some life with about 8 minutes to go. First Jeremy Schenderling's 2 for hooking and 2 for unsportsmanlike conduct would give the Raiders a lengthy man advantage. Schenderling turned over the puck on a Broncos PP and was forced to hook his man up. Schendo was tagged with another one after giving it to referee Graham Skilliter. Jeremy was upset after a non-call when he ate a high stick earlier in the play that cut his lip. Later on, a Myles Rumsey cross-checking call gave PA a two-man advantage for nearly a minute. That's when Ryan Mcdonald would blast home the Raiders 2nd goal.

It was hold on time after that as the Broncos still had 1:49 to kill in Rumsey's penalty with time winding down in the third. No other real scoring chances came as the Broncos held on for the 3-2 win - ending a six game slide and picking up their first regulation road win since December 6th in, of course, Prince Albert.
As I said on the broadcast a few times "he's back!" referring to the recent play of Kyle Moir. He was good again in goal and didn't have to be spectacular because of a nice defensive effort. He just did his job, made some saves from in tight and long range with no rebounds.

The boys were excited after the win - that was nice to see. But it was a controlled excitement, they know it's only one win and there's no reason to throw a parade. Kyle Bortis was named the game's first star and picked up the "extra steak sandwich" at the post game meal.

The two-man referee system is driving me nuts! Last night we saw every potential scenario. 5-on-5, 5-on-4, 4-on-4, 4-on-3 and 3-on-3. I don't recall seeing a lot of 3-on-3 during regulation. I had a nice chat with both referees Graham Skilliter and Trevor Hricuik. As always I left saying "keep the penalties to a minimum." As always, they didn't listen. They did do a good job last night in what was fairly well-called game.

Brady Leavold (sick) didn't make the trip, Matt Tassone (knee), and Paul Postma (groin) didn't play. The Broncos will be looking to bring up a couple more young players with the departure of Phil Gervais and Geordie Wudrick to the Canada Winter Games in the Yukon.

In other WHL news, the Vancouver Giants have lost spark plug forward Garret Hunt for maybe the rest of the season with a broken leg. He missed in a body-check attempt last night vs Kamloops and ran himself hard into the corner boards. "You live by the sword, you die by the sword" is a fitting quote here. Quite the last couple minutes in that game with a line brawl and several scraps leading to game misconducts. Both teams will likely be fined for their actions.

Rene Lemire's head coaching debut with the Warriors strarted with a loss. Moose Jaw lost a tight one in Medicine Hat 4-2. The teams were tied 2-2 in the third before the Tigers scored the go-ahead goal. Moose Jaw is now 12 points out of a playoff spot and do not have a favorable schedule down the stretch. Of their 18 games remaining, four are against Regina and three against Brandon. Also they continue on the road this weekend with games in Lethbridge (tonight) and Kootenay (Sunday).

The Prince Albert Raiders now hit the road for three games beginning Tuesday in Medicine Hat, Wednesday in Red Deer and Friday in Swift Current. The Broncos and Raiders now sit tied for third in the east division, Prince Albert does have a game-in-hand.

More later this weekend,

Friday, February 09, 2007

Broncos Head North Tonight

It's off to HockeyTown North as they call it up in Prince Albert tonight. This is the 5th meeting of the season between the teams - the Broncos have won all previous four. The Raiders are coming off a big win in Saskatoon last night 4-1 to jump ahead of the Broncos by two points for third spot in the division.

Prince Albert seemingly hasn't missed a beat since trading A.J. Thelen to Vancouver at the deadline, in fact they are 5-3 in their last 8 games. Should be a good match-up as the Broncos look to end a six-game losing skid. The Raiders have been getting solid goaltending from Jesse Deckert lately. Kyle Bortis should make his return to the Broncos line-up coming off an ankle injury. He was hurt in the last game before the Christmas break in Saskatoon.

Thanks to "Hunch" yesterday. Broncos Assistant Coach Dave Hunchak helped get me un-stuck yesterday on my street, it just so happens he was passing by when I was having some issues with traction.

I stopped by practice yesterday, they've been pretty intense lately. The boys though still find time to give it to me over my failed shootout attempt during the Skills Challenge. Bortis and Gervais were the ringleaders on Wednesday. Thanks guys.

I talked with former Broncos captain Dustin Friesen this week. He just won a gold medal at the World University Games in Italy with Canada's hockey team. The interview will air Sunday night before the Broncos/Hitmen game.

Had a chat with Larry Doyle - father of Broncos defenseman Eric Doyle for an upcoming "Homegrown Heroes" feature. Larry is a former Lethbridge Broncos player from the mid 80's. He says he's a regular blog reader too. Thanks Larry! Look forward to meeting you during Parents Weekend later this month.

Broncos and Raiders on the air at 7pm, play-by-play at 7:30. I'll post a recap tomorrow morning.

Have a great weekend,

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Young Speaks

The Moose Jaw Warriors surprised a lot of people yesterday announcing the firing of Head Coach Steve Young. General Manager Chad Lang felt the team was underachieving, "the last couple weeks we've discussed this - myself and the board (of directors) and it's the toughest decision I've had to make in my GM duties and responsibilities. At the end of the day I think everyone not only in our organization but in the league knows how much respect I have for Steve Young."

Lang continued, "I felt we made moves prior to the deadline that strengthened our hockey club down the stretch and probably didn't get the results that all of us were hoping for. At the end of the day we felt it was a decision with 20 games left it will allow us to spark our guys and battle and allow us to get back into the playoff hunt."

Steve Young was tracked down late yesterday, "today is kind of a pick yourself off the ground type day. But obviously for myself I'm a guy with morals and standards and I will continue to work hard in whatever I have to do. Coaching is my passion and I worked hard and respected being in this league everyday.

He continued, "I was told just before practice, the players went on the ice. I cleaned my stuff up and left the building. I have deep feelings for these players, they are part of my family, I believe in every one of them, they are a team that can get into the playoffs and make that playoff run and no question I will be cheering for those guys."

It still seems there was more to it, Lang had mentioned there were things going on behind the scenes and challenges the a lot of people don't know about.

For the mean time, Rene Lemire takes over as interim Head Coach. "It's very tough, he's the reason I'm here. we battled each other in the SJHL and gave me an opportunity to join the Warriors and I can't thank him enough. He's a nice guy, a great guy and I feel for him."

Lemire says he'll do the best job he can, "It's a tough part of the season where we're battling for a playoff spot and things haven't been working as well as we wanted them to be. I've got a lot of things going through my mind right now because it was so sudden at quarter to two today (Wednesday) and a half hour before practice. I'll start to work on some of the problems we have, powerplay and penalty kill are two things we need to address."

Some of the Warrior players are weighing in on the firing. Captain Steven Gillen, "It's not him out there playing the games it's us and we're the one's not getting it done. It's a tough position but that's the way hockey is, I don't know I guess life's not fair sometimes."

Leading scorer Riley Holzapfel says it's tough to watch Young go. "It's obviously a shock it's sad to see Steve go, he's coached me for a couple years. I just wish him all the best and hope he has a good career ahead of him."

Steve was always a pleasure to talk to. I'm sure underneath he's a bit bitter but he's not showing it. Good luck to Steve Young.

I had a question in the comment portion recently:

"Hey man,Great work on the blog, as always. It has nothing to do with your post, but for those of us out of towners, I was wondering how the rink renos are looking. Also, what are the plans for your broadcast area?All the best, man.-KJ"

Well, it appears that construction is on time and you can definitely notice the presence of construction inside the Civic Center. The building has been closed for three days this week as crews do some interior work and install a new condenser. The Broncos have been moved to the Fairview Arena for practice this week. The old media room which is also the SC Figure Skating Club room no longer exists to make way for the ice-plant. We won't see major construction on the wrap-around seating/luxury box side until the end of hockey season. As soon as the season ends, they will go full blast on that side. As for the curling rink, steady work continues with concrete crews. So far so good. Hopefully everything is ready for the opening face-off for next season but the Broncos could find themselves on the road to start the year for an extended period. We will wait and see.

Some other league notes, The Brandon Wheat Kings will be without defenseman Theran Yeo for the rest of the regular season. Yeo broke his wrist in a pre-game skate last Friday before the Broncos/Wheat Kings game.

The Broncos are finally healthy (knock on wood) as they get set to head to Prince Albert. Kyle Bortis has resumed full-contact practice and will be in the line-up Friday night.

One more local sports note, apparently Gary Janke will return for a third season behind the bench for the Home Hardware "AAA" Legionnaires. Under Janke the team has missed the playoffs both seasons while battling in the basement. Janke's Legionnaires coaching record is 13-60-4-3 . . . . . it's a good thing he doesn't coach in Moose Jaw!

Enjoy the day,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Steve Young Gassed!

Wow, this came as a surprise this afternoon. The Moose Jaw Warriors have fired Head Coach Steve Young and have named Rene Lemire as the Interim Head Coach.

Obviously there is something behind the scenes on this one. How can you fire a guy who took you to the WHL Final last year and then had his team dismantled (Troy Brouwer, Dustin Boyd, Blair Jones, Kendall Mcardle, to name a few) for this season, Brouwer, Boyd and Jones have all played in the NHL this season.

It's not just wins and losses here . . . there's something we don't know about on this one. I'm going to have Warriors General Manager Chad Lang on Friday's pre-game show if I can track him down. I'm sure I'll get the generic response which is usually the norm in this case.

I saw Steve Young on the CTV sports, he must have been a bit upset, but as always he was a class act. He was one of the nicest coaches to deal with in the WHL, but as they say sometimes "nice guys finish last". Full recap coming tomorrow morning once I get into the station and get the lowdown from Moose Jaw.


For the Fight Fans

First up, for all the Lanigan boys who check out the blog daily, Sheldon Brookbank made is NHL debut last night and assisted on Nashville's first goal. His wrister from the point was tipped home from Scott Nichol. He logged just over 10 minutes of ice. As mention earlier, now the 2nd "Crusher" to play in the NHL! For more on Sheldon's story check out "Fellow Foley Crescent Crusher Burning Up AHL", you'll need to scroll down the page a little:

It's strange. Actually Sheldon's call-up to the NHL has a Swift Current/Stewart Valley twist to it. He was called up after Nashville defenseman Shea Weber was KO'ed in a scrap with local boy Travis Moen. Travis is another good story. "A local boy done good" as they say. If anyone missed it, here's what happened when he tangled with former Kelowna Rockets teammate Shea Weber.

Travis is a good character guy. You can't help but feel good for him. He's been a guest a few times on the Eagle morning show and spends his off-seasons here. You can catch him working hard in the "Training Zone" gym most nights.

A couple former WHL defenseman got into last night. Dion Phaneuf and Brent Seabrook dropped the gloves. Decision Phaneuf if you missed last night's highlights. The two were World Junior teammates in that dream team from three years back that won gold in North Dakota.

How 'bout last night in 'dub? Martin Hanzal and Ryan White dropped the gloves one second into the Rebels/Hitmen game. The two top scorers met eachother in the face-off circle and had some words before shedding their gear. It was Hanzal's first tilt in the league as he rocked White with a hard right hand on the button. White stood in their and wrestled Hanzal down. Rebels announcer Cam Moon was shocked when that fight developed, "are we in the twilight zone?" he asked before the two players got into it.

Speaking of junior hockey, has everyone seen the Kingston/Belleville OHL brawl that resulted in a handful suspensions totalling 34 games?

Here it is:

Just another night in the WHL. Reminds me of the Everett/Tri-City finish last Friday night. There were suspension their too, but not that severe.


I talked to a couple of the individual event winners yesterday from the Broncos Skills Challenge.

Dale Wiese on winning the hardest shot contest with a blast of 99mph "I was watching (Spencer) McAvoy before me and he had 89 (mph shot), I was just looking to beat him, I was hoping to maybe crack 90. I shot 94 (on my first attempt) and I felt it wasn't my hardest shot and just leaned into the 2nd one and it came out at 99. I was a little surprised but I'll take it.

On having bragging rights for the season: "Oh, definitely, definitely I was pulling it out today in practice, telling guys, you know it was a pretty fun time and everyone enjoyed it.

Zack Smith on being the fastest skater had a laugh, "we never really had a race amongst our team, I figured we had some fast guys on our team but managed to pull that event off. They like to think they're the fastest player out there, but I've been ripping by them and I thought they would have got the message by now!"

Broncos and Raiders Friday night, we'll have more later,

Have a great day,