Sunday, March 25, 2007

Series Tied, Broncos Steal Home Ice Advantage

An overtime goal from Kyle Bortis not only lifted the Broncos into a 1-1 series tie with Regina, it's lifted the spirits of the Bronco faithful and the playoff monkey off Kyle Moir's back.

The Bortis goal just 1:07 into overtime thanks to a giveaway from Pats 'tender Linden Rowat sent the Broncos pouring off the bench to celebrate a series split with games three and four coming back to home ice Tuesday and Wednesday.

After seven attempts, Kyle Moir now has a playoff win and I expect the rest of his playoff performances to take-off. The win was big for the Broncos, huge for Kyle Moir.

The Broncos play was a complete 180 compared to Friday night's game one. They came out hard, threw some hits and got their legs going. Jeremy Schenderling tied the game at one in the dying seconds of the 1st period with a slapper near the top of the circle. For the first time, I felt the Broncos had finally arrived in the post-season.

The Broncos took the lead early in the 2nd period on a 5-on-3 goal from Geordie Wudrick as they crashed the goal off the rush to bang home a rebound. The Pats responded minutes later with a 4-on-4 goal from Troy Ofukany.

Tied 2-2 into the third period, Ryan Molle stepped into one from the top-circle after a scramble around the Pats goal. Molle's slapper gave the Broncos a 3-2 lead with 13 minutes to play. Molle, an unlikely source only had one goal in the regular season. For me, he has has a ton of potential. The 17 year-old has been great lately.

The Pats were granted a 5-on-3 powerplay for a full 1:32 but couldn't force the puck home. Some great shot blocking and hard work kept the Broncos lead alive. The Pats had three different 5-on-3 man advantages and failed to capitalize. The Broncos penalty kill was excellent dousing all nine Pat man advantages. As Broncos assistant coach Dave Hunchak pointed out in the post-game show, special teams was the difference maker.

The Pats would find the tying goal with 4:02 to play when Mike McAngus found a loose puck in thr crease and scored an easy one. The Brandt Center erupted. That's the loudest I've heard that barn all season. The Pats had momentum as the Broncos held on to force overtime.

Cue Kyle Bortis.

Pats goaltender Linden Rowat attempted to play the puck up the ice trying to kickstart the rush. The only problem was Pat's d-man Nick Ross was coming back to retrieve the puck and got mixed up with his goaltender who appeared to be thinking offense by advancing the puck. He threw the disc right off the backside of Nick Ross which then deflected to Kyle Bortis from a sharp angle. Bortis led a quick shot go before Rowat could get set. Game over, series tied.

A straight faced Dave Hunchak joined us for the post-game show. Hunch knows it's only one win of a long battle ahead. Remember, he's taken a team all the way to the final of the Royal Bank Cup. The biggest prize in Junior "A" hockey. This is just one step, and he knew it. It was my first playoff win in the booth after a four year drought. I was excited. That may have come across the airwaves just a little...ok a lot.

I couldn't help but notice the extra motivation the Broncos had pinned-up and highlighted in the dressing room - the front page of Saturday's Leaderpost Sports. On it, three separate articles with some biting words on their play Friday night, and enough Regina Pats praise to last an entire Memorial Cup run. It seems the LP had already thrown the victory parade. The Kyle Bortis goal in OT may have been unassisted but I know the LP contributed in their own little way. Myles Rumsey even asked me after the game "Where's Rob Vanstone?" It seems the media is doing their part to add some fuel to this series, as expected.

For the Bronco fans who showed up at the Brandt Center I'm sure the celebration after overtime was satisfying. Most of the faithful stuck around and cheered as Pat fans filed out of the building. The loud crew didn't need any more motivation, but a quick thumbs-up or fist-pump from myself or Ryan Switzer from the booth sent them into a frenzy down below. We heard you. So did most of Regina.

This is going to get better... I can't wait for game three.


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