Thursday, March 01, 2007
The last laugh goes to the Broncos.
Despite the Blades giving the Broncos fits for most of the season, the Broncos won the game that counted most. And like a giant elbow off the top ropes or a knock-out punch - the Blades might be down for the count.
After a well-played first period, the Broncos and Blades were scoreless. It was a good road period for the team as I'm sure the 7-1 defeat last time they met may have still been lingering in their heads.
The Broncos came out and dominated the 2nd period getting a goal from Levi Nelson off a Jeremy Schenderling rebound just three minutes in. Kyle Bortis added a 2nd marker in the final minute of the period on the powerplay. He found some room between goaltender Garrett Zemlak and the post from a sharp angle.
The third period saw the Blades sustain some pressure. It was the Broncos adding to their lead though. Daniel Rakos let a wrister go that deflected in front past Zemlak. That was it from there. The Broncos defense was smothering and took care of all the loose ends. Justin Mcrae and Ryan Menei were nearly invisible. Through the first seven games of the season series they have combined for 21 points.
The win gives the Broncos a three point cushion on Prince Albert for 3rd place in the east and an eight point lead on 5th place Moose Jaw. Saskatoon drops to the basement nine points back after Moose Jaw beat Prince Albert 7-4. You would have to think the Broncos may have put the last touches on the Blades' playoff hopes. Although they are only six points out of the last spot, they have by far the toughest schedule of the teams. They hit the road for a Central road swing with stops in Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Kootenay.
The two Saskatoon products Kyle Bortis and Travis Yonkman had some strong cheering sections. I ran into the Bortis family post-game. Kyle's dad Roger told me the Credit Union Center was so quiet that he actually heard all three of my goal calls. Wow. Maybe I was too loud, then again the CUC can be a library at the best of times.
It was good to see some smiles return on the team. They guys are having some fun again after posting back-to-back wins. The trip home was good as we arrived back in the city just after 1am. Just enough time to catch a few hours sleep before getting back to the station for the morning sports run and Eagle 94.1 FM morning show. It's always easier coming into work off the road following a win the night before.
The Broncos have a tough weekend ahead with Friday night's game in Medicine Hat followed by a Saturday night tilt in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice.
Last night a nasty snowstorm near Brandon (go figure!) delayed the start of the Wheat Kings-Tri City game. The delay lasted just about two hours as they dropped the puck around 9pm at the Keystone Center.
I talked with Anaheim Ducks grinder and Stewart Valley native Travis Moen yesterday as we rolled into Saskatoon. He'll be featured in an upcoming Broncos broadcast. He says he was happy to survive the trade deadline . . . "I can breath again" is what he said following a day full of deals. Moen only signed a one-year deal with Anaheim. He is probably in for a substantial raise at the end of the year. He's putting up career numbers this year while playing a solid checking role on the team. Ducks' General Manager Brian Burke must be thrilled with his play. He's getting great bang for his buck.
Anyone else see the Ryan Smyth news conference from the Edmonton airport? Ryan Smyth falls into the Oiler tradition of tearful goodbyes in front of the cameras. I think it's played out quite frankly. It's tough for fans to feel sorry because the Oiler's couldn't meet his agent' Don Meehan's demands for $5.5 million plus per season. That's the business. If he really wants to be back, he'll re-sign as an unrestricted free agent in the summer once the marketplace is set. Meehan is looking out for #1 here. He has several clients up for contracts this summer and knows if Smyth's contract is under-valued, he stands to lose a lot with his other clients. Meehan wasn't about to set a lower standard for the rest of his players.
That's about all I can muster this morning.... have a great day,