Thursday, November 22, 2007

Brandon Bound...

A few things to blog about on the seven hour journey southeast to Brandon for tomorrow night’s game.

A quick stop in some of the small towns along the journey just goes to show the strength of Rider Pride. A stop in Wadena proved to be interesting. How about some Rider Pride doughnuts in the bakery? One lady asked “is your bus heading to the Grey Cup game?”

Several small towns along the way had “Go Riders” signs flanking the road. That seemed to stop as we hit the Manitoba border.

I’ll take a closer look at the Grey Cup game from the Broncos perspective in tomorrow night’s pre-game show. With a handful of Winnipeggers and Saskies on the team, there will be something on the line Sunday besides the Grey Cup.

The team also made a quick stop in Yorkton for lunch, This trek is rarely made by the Broncos. In fact I can recall only once before doing the Prince Albert / Brandon trip. Five seasons ago we played in Brandon first and after the game bussed as far as Yorkton. We pulled in around 2am to ur hotel and there was this huge wedding dance taking place that rocked on till four in the morning. Safe to say no one was well rested after that night. We were sharing the same hotel as the Kindersley Klippers of the SJHL, at the time coached by Dave Hunchak. We bussed on to Prince Albert the next day.

Last night was streak breaking night around the league – except for the Broncos who dropped their fourth in a row to Prince Albert. More on that game later. Moose Jaw snapped a seven game slide by beating Saskatoon 3-1. The Warriors will probably win seven straight now… such a streaky hockey club.

Lethbridge failed to pick up a point for the first time in 14 games (13-0-0-1) in that stretch. They lost in Edmonton 6-3.

Tri City stopped Kelowna’s streak of points in consecutive games with a 6-1 win. The Americans lit up the scoreboard six times in the 2nd period. Game over.

The Broncos continue to struggle against Prince Albert. The Broncos didn’t have a lot of first period energy and didn’t really start skating until late in the 2nd period. Two Raider goals 1:09 apart in the 2nd period by Matt Robertson and Jordan Trach was the turning point.

Ryan Depape scored his 5th of the season to open the scoring midway through the first period. Three of his five season markers have come against the Broncos.

The icing on the cake came early in the third period. It was the first time I have ever seen this play happen in person. The Broncos scored an “own goal” with their goalie pulled. for the extra attacker on a delayed penalty. Brad Hoban tried to get the puck back to the point inside the Raiders zone to Ryan Molle when the puck hopped over Molle’s stick and had enough juice to roll all the way down the ice and into the Broncos empty net. “You gotta be kidding me” was my on-air reaction. The fans went nuts.


Is the WHL listening? When it comes to my on-going concern with goal judges maybe they are. Two cases on Sunday night rendered goal judges as just glorified light switch operators in which the referee chose not to consult them after a couple of pucks rang the crossbar.

One was in the Broncos/ Saskatoon game when David Steiler rang the bar late in the 1st period and the red light went on. The referee waved if off and play continued. After the play was blown down, the goal judge was trying his best to get the attention of the referee to add his two cents. The referee never consulted him.

The same held true Sunday night in Moose Jaw in overtime when Riley Holzapfel hit the cross bar in a 2-2 game against Lethbridge. Again the red light went on but the referee made no signal it was a goal. He never consulted the goal judge either for his thoughts. Maybe a memo has been sent out recently regarding the homers with the best seat in the house. If so, that’s great to hear.

My thoughts on the subject is that most of the goal judges around the league are usually on the booster club of the home team and when it comes to being an unbias official of the game…. good luck.

The title “goal judge” should be changed to “goal light operator”. Or, do what the NHL did and do away with them all together. Make no mistake, video replay is coming to the WHL on a full time basis during the regular season – maybe as soon as next year. For now, it will remain only in Conference Finals and the WHL Championship series.


Finally I will close off with my favorite line of the week and it comes courtesy of Andy Kemper, voice of the Portland Winterhawks.

As the Hawks held on to beat Regina 4-3 earlier this week, Andy proudly proclaimed “The Hawks are now 2-0 on home ice on Tuesday nights against east division teams.” Nice work Andy. Something to build on.


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