As the Broncos depart for a five game road swing tomorrow through Alberta and B.C I thought I would get in one last update before hitting the road.
- The Broncos begin the swing in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes. Last season the Broncos were 3-1 against the 'Canes. The first meeting of last season was also the Broncos 4th game of the year. That night Kyle Moir stole the show making 49 saves at the Civic Center to give the Broncos a 2-1 victory. It was one of, if not Kyle's finest game.
- Speaking of Kyle, I spoke with him today from Thunder Bay. He's adjusting well to University Hockey and for the first time in four years is a rookie again. There's a couple former Western Leaguers on the team including Kris Hogg, Andy Zyluniak and former Bronco Brad Preistlay.
His team, the Lakehead Thunderwolves will host the national championship tournament the next two following years. A big reason why he decided to head all the way out East.
Listen for the interview on an upcoming pre-game show on the Broncos roadtrip.
- I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Credit Union I-plex today. It's going to be gorgeous but it has a long ways to go. There is A LOT of work to do from now till the 12th for the Broncos home opener. Fans will need to show some patience in the newly renovated facility. It will be a construction zone 'till Christmas.
Some of the highlights from my perspective:
- The new lobby has an open end facing the hockey rink... meaning you can be ordering your burger and pop and have Dale Wiese runover a random player in the corner over your shoulder. The plan is to leave it that way unless too much cold air is causing a problem in the lobby area or too much warm air affects the ice surface. It is truly unique.
- The front entrance atrium will be a nice way to enter the rink. Lots of glass, lots of eye candy.
- The new boards look nice and have been lowered into the playing surface. They also have installed seamless glass behind the two benches for added sight lines for fans.
- The new wrap-around seating on the east end, and wrapped corner boxes on the west end really give it that complete arena feeling. You'll see what I'm talking about when the Broncos begin that five-game homestand.
- The Bronco offices and souvenir store will catch your eye too.
- The new ice plant is state-of-the-art complete with infrared sensors and computer monitors. It's a very impressive set-up. The ice conditions are completely controlled by computer.
So that was the tour today... they have 11 more days to pull it all together. Cross your fingers.
- Does the WHL really need goal judges? I think it's time to review their policy. The NHL has done away with them because of video replay. We don't have video replay unless it's the WHL final so that will keep goal judge seats warm for the time being.
The reason I mention this is because every rink in the league has "home team" goal judges. The visitors rarely, if ever have a call go there way whenever the referee consults with them.
For example the Broncos in Medicine Hat Saturday night... referee Nathan Wieler signals a goal after Levi Nelson put it home. The red light never went on and after consulting the "goal judge", Wieler waved it off. Sunday night in Kootenay, the Blades were robbed of a goal after the goal judge offered his two cents.
I've seen them get an very itchy finger and turn on the light inadvertently when the puck is wide of the net or a great chance is denied last second. However, I have never seen the light turned on by mistake behind the home team goaltender. Have you?
Put down your hometeam pom-poms and start representing the WHL logo on the blazer. The WHL should really take a closer look at this. It's been going on for years. And while they're at it, they can straighten out the random people in some WHL rinks who operate the score/shot clock. It's embarrassing some nights. Phantom shots on goal that get credited to the hometeam. Failing to recognize the visiting shots on goal to pad the numbers. Calgary and Medicine Hat come to mind....
- Andy Kemper... how are you doin' out west? The new voice of the Portland Winterhawks has watched his team skate to an 0-4 start scoring three goals in the process. To make matters worse, the other night they played a home game in Portland then bussed all night to Kamloops arriving at 7:30am. That's a rough way to start the season. Hang in there man, it can only get better!
Finally, we're on the air tomorrow night from Lethbridge beginning at 6:30pm with the pre-game show, 7pm play-by-play. Tomorrow night's pre-game show will have a feature on Broncos Hall of Fame inductee Danny Lambert. The 9 minute long tribute was played along with video highlights the night he was inducted this summer. It includes clips of former coaches, teammates, billets, etc. Joe Sakic is one of the former teammates and longtime friends who says a few words. He called me earlier this summer.... I don't get star struck very often anymore but when someone on the other line says "Jon, it's Joe Sakic calling" you can't help but feel a little in awe of the moment. His clip, along with his wife in the background talking about their high school days in priceless. Listen for it.
I will also get some comments from newly acquired players Keegan Dansereau and Erik Felde.
Have a great week.... Go Broncos.